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When you make the decision to purchase a new vehicle, you normally assume that it will work properly and that no persistent or serious issues will arise, at least not right away. However, there are some cases where vehicles are just lemons from the start. Michigan Lemon Law was enacted to protect consumers who have purchased new vehicles that have serious issues that are not resolved or fixed by the manufacturer. The main purpose of the Lemon Law is to hold the manufacturer liable for selling a faulty vehicle.
To whom does the Lemon Law apply?
According to the State of Michigan, the Lemon Law applies to a person who:
- Purchases or leases a new motor vehicle for personal, family, or household use and not to sell or lease the new motor vehicle to another person.
- Purchases or leases less than ten new vehicles per year.
- Purchases or leases ten or more new motor vehicles a year only if the vehicles are purchased or leased for personal, family, or household use.
- Is entitled to enforce the provisions of an express warranty pursuant to the terms of that warranty.
What types of vehicles are covered under the Lemon Law?
In Michigan, the Lemon Law does not protect every type of vehicle. The new or leased vehicles that are covered under this law are:
- Passenger cars
- Pickup trucks
The vehicles that are not covered are:
- Motor homes
- Off-road vehicles
- Trucks other than pickup trucks and vans
Typically, the Lemon Law does not apply to used vehicles. However, if the vehicle is covered by the manufacturer’s express warranty and the problem has been reported within one year from the date of delivery to the original owner, then the Lemon Law might be applicable.
What types of defects are covered under the Lemon Law?
The State of Michigan says that “The Lemon Law covers any defect or condition that impairs the use or value of the new motor vehicle to the consumer or prevents the new motor vehicle from conforming to the manufacturer’s express warranty.” Some examples of the defects that would qualify under the Lemon Law are:
- Transmission and engine defects
- Battery defects
- Paint/or significant cosmetic defects
- Navigation defects that would be a safety concern
- Suspension defects
- Stalling or no-start issues
It is important to note that aftermarket modifications such as replacing rims or tires, changing out the sound or entertainment system since it could affect the electrical and computer systems in the vehicle, and lift kits, are not covered under the Lemon Law.
How many repair attempts must be made?
The first step you must follow to recover under Michigan Lemon Law is to report the problem to the manufacturer or authorized dealer within one year of the date of delivery to the original owner or within the terms of the warranty. The manufacturer must attempt to fix the problem. The Lemon Law gives the manufacturer or authorized dealer a reasonable number of attempts to fix the issues. In order to invoke the Lemon Law, a record of attempted repairs needs to include:
*That the new vehicle has been in for repair of the same problem at least four times in the first two years of the first repair attempt.
*The vehicle has been out of service for at least 30 days during the first year or during the manufacturer’s express warranty period. The vehicle does not need to be out of service for the same issue in these 30 days.
The issues must continue after these repair attempts in order for the vehicle to qualify as a lemon. However, after these repair attempts you must allow the manufacturer or authorized dealer one last opportunity to fix the persistent problem. This must be done by a written notice with a return receipt. This notice must be given after the third attempt at fixing the same problem or at any time, regardless of it being the same issue, if the vehicle has been out of service for at least 25 days. The manufacturer must contact you once they have received the written notice to set up the repair. Then they have five days to repair the vehicle, otherwise you may be entitled to a refund or a new vehicle.
What happens if your vehicle qualifies as a lemon?
If indeed your vehicle qualifies as a lemon, the manufacturer must replace the vehicle with a new one of equal value or refund your money and take the vehicle back. If you are given a refund, the following would be included:
- Purchase price of the vehicle or lease price of the vehicle
- Trade in allowance
- Sales tax
- License and registration fees
- Finance charges on the loan
- Previously unreimbursed towing and rental car charges as a result from the vehicle defect
If your vehicle is determined to be a lemon, the manufacturer will be responsible for covering all attorney fees.
It is important to make sure you protect yourself under the Lemon Law. The State of Michigan gives a few helpful tips on how to do that during this process:
- Keep copies of all correspondence to and from the manufacturer and the dealer.
- Keep copies of all work orders for the repairs done on the vehicle. You should make sure this paperwork has the dates on which the repairs were performed and also the mileage on the car at the time of the repairs.
- Make sure to follow all the requirements of the warranty. This would include having the repairs completed at an authorized dealer specified by the manufacturer.
Some parts of the Lemon Law may seem to be open to interpretation, because it doesn’t always come across cut and dry. Because of this, you should seriously consider hiring an attorney to walk you through the Lemon Law process so you are aware of what you are entitled to if your vehicle is a lemon. Some consumers will settle for much less than they should just because they are unaware of what is rightfully owed to them. So, make sure a lawyer helps you through this process.
When life gives you lemons…call an attorney!