Posted On: October 26, 2009

Top Lemon Laws Consumers Should Know About

Lemon laws protect car buyers who have repeatedly tried to fix cars, to no avail. While laws vary by state, one of the strongest is the Texas lemon law, on which other state laws are modeled. There are also federal laws that further protect consumers. Consumers can use these lemon laws to get a refund or replacement for cars that require excessive repairs to fix warranty-covered problems.

Texas Lemon Law: The law applies to new automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, RVs, and towable recreational vehicles. These vehicles must have problems covered by a written factory warranty; claims must be filed within 6 months of the expiration of the warranty, 24 months, or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. The law requires 2 repair attempts in the first 12 months or 12,000 miles and another 2 attempts in the second 12 months or 12,000 miles. If the problem is a serious safety hazard, it only requires 1 repair attempt in the first 12 months or 12,000 miles and at least one more in the second 12 months or 12,000 miles. The law also covers vehicles that are out of service for 30 days.

California Lemon Law: This law applies only to vehicles used for home or personal use. It requires 4 repair attempts or 30 days out of service within 18 months or 18,000 miles. If the problem could cause death or serious injury, it only requires 2 repair attempts.

Florida Lemon Law: This law applies only to vehicles used for home or personal use, but doesn't cover off-road vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, or trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds. Claims must be filed within 24,000 miles of the vehicle's delivery, with at least 3 repair attempts or 30 days out of service.

Idaho Lemon Law: It covers all new vehicles, whether for personal or business use, but doesn't cover motorcycles, farm equipment, trailers, or vehicles over 12,000 pounds. It requires 4 repair attempts or 30 business days out of use within 2 years, 24,000 miles, or the expiration of the warranty.

Uniform Commercial Code, Article Two: This is a federal statute that affirms the consumer's right to a replacement vehicle if they have complied with all procedures to replace a vehicle.

Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act: This federal statute protects consumers from companies that won't fulfill the warranty terms. Significantly, it applies to used cars with a warranty, requires companies to redress problems within a reasonable amount of time, and allows consumers to recover attorney's fees. The latter puts pressure on companies to resolve issues before they reach court.

Naturally, the ideal situation would be not to purchase a lemon in the first place. To avoid buying a lemon, buyers should research both the cars and car dealerships to find out about common problems and others' experiences. A third-party mechanic's review may also be helpful before purchase. But if a buyer does end up with a lemon, he or she can take some meager comfort in the fact that lemon laws allow them some recourse.

The following guest post was written by Christine Howell who frequently writes about Online Law Degree and college related topics for Online College Guru, an online college directory and comparison website.

Posted On: October 25, 2009

Hyundai Lemon Law case over attorney fees

Hyundai recently lost a California Lemon Law case over attorney fees in the Court of Appeals of California -- Fourth Appellate District. The case revolves around Adina Vasquez's purchase of a defective 2005 Hyundai Sonata. Vasquez hired a lemon law attorney and sued under the California Song-Beverly Act and the Magnuson-Moss Act.

Vasquez was able to get a repurchase on the vehicle, but the issue of attorney fees remain pending. Thereafter, Vasquez's attorney sued for attorney fees in the amount of $51,012. Hyundai fought and the trial court agreed with Hyundai -- it refused to award any attorney fees to Vasquez's attorney. Vasquez's attorney took the case to the Fourth Appellate District Court of California.

In its unpublished decision dated on October 13, 2009, the appellate court sided with Vasquez in stating that Vasquez's attorney is entitled to "reasonable attorney fees." The case is remanded back to the trial court to determine the reasonableness of $51,012.

For more information, click on this pdf.

Posted On: October 14, 2009

Win a Texas Lemon Law Case by making sure your repair invoices are accurate

Often times, potential clients will call me with a set of facts that meets the minimum requirements of the Texas Lemon Law. However, once I ask the potential client to fax me the repair invoices, I learn that the receipts were either inaccurate or unavailable.

Many dealerships, in preparation for a lemon law claim, would find ways to set up the situation against the consumer's favor. For example, the repair invoice always includes the legal jargon that the "customer states...." so-and-so. It never states that "we the dealership found or discovered a serious defect: -- because that would be considered an admission to liability.

Other times, the dealerships will merge two separate repair visits onto one invoice. In the eyes of most Texas Lemon Law administrative judges, one repair invoice equals only one visit. The rule of thumb is that once you've driven the car off the lot for a repair invoice and the same problem re-manifests itself, then you should turn around, have the dealership attempt to repair the defect and request a separate repair receipt.

Another inaccurate repair invoice situation is when the dealership mis-types that mileage in and mileage out area of the repair invoice. I have had a client that noticed that the odometer had 400 miles added to it when it was in the possession of the dealership. The repair invoice indicated that only 4 miles were driven.

Like anything, if you notice that the repair invoice is not accurate, then DO NOT sign the repair invoice.