In the world of automobiles, to be stuck with a lemon is to have a car that has essentially been rendered useless through no fault of your own. Because buying a car is considered a major purchase many states have enacted their own version of a lemon law.
Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act
The Virginia Lemon Law is also referred to as the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act. In the legal world, this law is on the books as Virginia Lemon Law 59.1 and covers the purchase of an automobile, truck, motorcycle or the chassis of an RV.
For Virginia car buyers a lemon is referred to as any one of those types of vehicles mentioned above that fail to operate and can’t be fixed within the boundaries of a preexisting warranty agreement. Basically, if your car breaks down and the dealership won’t fix it, you are entitled to return it for a full refund or a replacement car. As with any consumer protection law there are certain conditions that need to be met before you can activate your own “lemon” warranty.
Virginia Lemon Law Precedent
You may find that applying for a lemon law refund could land you in court to defend your position against the auto maker. For Virginia residents, there has been strong legal precedent established on behalf of the consumer.
The first Virginia Lemon Law ruling was issued by the State Supreme Court in 1998. In Subaru versus Peters, the court found that Ms. Peters, who purchased a Subaru from a rental car company, was still entitled to damages. The Court also ruled that there was no need for expert testimony and the car owner’s testimony was sufficient.
There was also no need for a minimum number of repairs or days when the car wasn’t operable. The mere fact that it was not drivable through no fault of the owner was good enough for the courts. This ruling has provided the basis for many other lemon law rulings that followed.
Virginia Lemon Law Restrictions
For a vehicle to qualify for the Virginia Lemon Law it can’t be older than four model years. This means if you buy a car in 2011 it can’t be any older than a 2007 model. You also have just eighteen months to file your claim. Beyond that, the manufacturer is off the hook.
You also have to provide documentation as to why the vehicle isn’t working. This can’t simply be a note from a spouse. It should be from a licensed mechanic. These same documentation needs to be presented to the manufacturer within those eighteen months. This means sending official notice to the auto company not the dealership where you bought the car.
With the purchase of a used car, you will often be told you’re buying the car “as is.” The might seem like it protects the seller, but if they don’t have a Buyers Guide window stick affixed to the car you’re buying, you have the right under the Virginia Lemon Law to return it within 30 days.
The 30 day rule also applies if the dealer you buy the car from hasn’t completed the title registration in that time. If the temporary certificate of ownership expires you can return the car. And if that same dealer can’t arrange the financing that you agreed on within 24 hours, you can return the car and get a full refund for any deposit.