Purchasing a new vehicle is an exciting and stressful process. However, if your car suffers from severe defects, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement under lemon law protections.
To qualify for compensation, your car must undergo a reasonable number of repair attempts within 24 months or 24,000 miles.
Contact the Dealer
As a Texas resident, you may be entitled to compensation or a replacement vehicle under the state’s lemon law if your new car has significant problems that impair use, market value, or safety. Suppose you believe your vehicle qualifies as a lemon. In that case, the first step is to contact the manufacturer directly (preferably by certified letter) and give them at least one chance to fix the problem. If the problem persists or substantially impedes your vehicle use, you can file a Lemon Law complaint through the Department of Motor Vehicles. The cost of filing a lemon law complaint is $35, and once filed, your case will be assigned to an examiner for mediation and, if unresolved, a hearing.
Keep careful records of every issue and repair attempt when you bring your automobile to the dealer. Under the law, if you take your car to the dealer more than three times and they cannot resolve the problem, it becomes a “lemon.” After a reasonable number of attempts, the dealer must buy back the vehicle or replace it with an identical vehicle.
In addition to the state’s lemon law, a federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act provides buyers with additional rights. If you are not satisfied with the results of the dealer’s efforts to fix your car, the law allows you to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
File a Complaint
You can be awarded compensation if you file a lemon law complaint and determine that your vehicle meets the state’s criteria. This could include a new replacement vehicle or a refund of your original purchase price (plus taxes and fees).
The specifics of each state’s lemon laws vary. Still, vehicles generally qualify for protection under this law if they have certain types of defects that significantly impair their use, value, or safety. These issues must also have been reported to the manufacturer within a specific period or number of miles, and the dealer has had more than one opportunity to repair them.
A lemon law attorney in Texas can help you navigate the finer points of the lemon law, and they will have experience in filing these complaints and winning compensation for their clients. You should avoid attempting this alone, especially if you already have a full-time job and family responsibilities.
In many cases, the dealership must go through mediation before a hearing is held before a judge who will finalize your case. Your attorney will present your testimony and evidence during the hearing. If a judge decides that your car is a lemon, they will issue an order requiring the seller to buy back your vehicle or provide you with a replacement.
Schedule a Test Drive
As the name suggests, lemon laws protect consumers from purchasing or leasing vehicles unsuitable for the road. The laws usually require manufacturers to offer a new vehicle or a cash refund to those who buy a defective car. Cars, trucks, vans, boats, motorcycles, and RVs purchased or leased can qualify for these protections if they meet specific requirements.
The first step of this process is to present your case before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This is similar to a hearing that would take place in small claims court, and the ALJ will follow specific legal procedures when reviewing your complaint. The ALJ will hear your testimony and any witnesses you present, and they may inspect and test drive your car during the hearing.
To qualify as a lemon, your car must have a substantial defect covered by a manufacturer’s warranty and has not been fixed after a reasonable number of attempts. The number of repair attempts considered “reasonable” varies by state. Still, generally, the manufacturer or dealer must have attempted to address the fault at least four times in the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership – or both.
Contact an Attorney
There are a lot of things to take into account when buying a new car. From selecting a model to checking safety ratings, you should always research before signing the dotted line. That way, you’ll be prepared if your vehicle turns out to be a lemon after you’ve purchased it. Fortunately, lemon law gives consumers the power to fight back.
The state’s lemon law allows you to receive a full refund or replacement of your defective vehicle or monetary compensation instead of repurchase or replacement. However, the process of pursuing legal action can be complex. You need an attorney to obtain the compensation you deserve successfully.
Before filing a lemon law complaint, you must contact the manufacturer directly and give them one final attempt to resolve the problem. You can do this by sending a letter by certified mail.