Articles Posted in Lemon Law Tips

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Each time you take your vehicle into the manufacturer, ever notice how the repair invoices you receive are stated a specific way? Most often, it will start off by stating “customer states…” Also, ever notice how the repair invoices are worded in a way that is mostly true, but not 100% accurate? Inaccurate repair invoices written by car manufacturers is perhaps the biggest reason that consumers in Texas lose when filing a Texas Lemon Law claim or lawsuit.

Service managers and employees who work for the service department of each manufacturer’s car dealership have been trained, if not over-trained, on how to write these repair invoices. Why? This is to protect the vehicle manufacturer and dealership.

In case you decide to open a Texas Lemon Law claim or file a Texas Deceptive Trade Practices (DTPA) lawsuit, these entities will already be 100 steps ahead of you. They have been prepared to be sued before you actually have purchased or brought your vehicle in for repairs.

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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.

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Although this article is related to used lemon cars, please understand that my office does NOT handle used lemon car cases. Please do not contact our office for legal advice regarding a used car — you may want to look for an attorney that handles used car cases at


Automobiles come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and we buy them for a variety of reasons. Some of us look at the snob appeal and buy nothing but the best and most flashy cars in the market while others are more down to earth and prefer practical cars that offer good mileage and a comfortable driving experience. There are times though when we have to settle for a secondhand car, one that has already been driven by someone else and put through a considerable amount of wear and tear. The thing is, although your expenses are considerably lower, buying a used or “pre-owned” car is not as easy as buying a new one because you never know what you are going to get. If you want to protect your money and make sure you get bang for your buck, the Texas lemon law blog has these tips to offer:

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With the downturn of the economy, a lot of people are now purchasing used cars and vehicles in order to save money. Generally speaking, new vehicles depreciate so aggressively that purchasing a pre-owned car makes a lot of financial sense.

I have previously written an article about how the Texas Lemon Law treats used car cases (go here for the article). Here’s a paraphrase on the limitations of Texas Lemon Law for used cars on TXDOT’s website:

A used vehicle may be covered under the Lemon Law. However, the coverage applies if your used vehicle is still covered by the manufacturer’s original warranty. Keep in mind that extended service contracts do not apply. Coverage also applies if the problem started while under warranty and it continues to exist, but the remedies are limited to repair assistance of the warranty-related problem,…and not a repurchase or replacement.

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In December of 2008, I posted a blog article about my experience with helping my friend, at the last minute, attend a Texas Department of Transportation Lemon Law hearing.

It was then discovered that my friend relied on the incorrect information provided by TexasDOT’s representative (he called (800) 622-8682) and did not send the car manufacturer a notice letter by certified mail. The case was dismissed due to this reason alone.

My friend then asked me about what could be done at that point. Once a case has been referred by the administrative judge to be dismissed, the claimant has the option of appealing the decision, provided that he or she does so in writing and within the specified period of time. Alternatively, the consumer may elect to forgo the appeal process and hire a lemon law attorney to file a lawsuit under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices and Federal Magnusson Moss Act.

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This is a continuation on last week’s post, on how to avoid your chances of purchasing a lemon pre-owned/used car. The same disclaimer applies; this is not legal advice, but are mere suggestions. Although I handle Texas lemon law cases, I do not handle pre-owned or used car cases.

Tip #4: Get a mechanic’s inspection. Purchasing a vehicle is arguably the second most costliest item that most consumers buy in their lifetime. As a consumer, you do not purchase vegetables at your local grocery with blindfolds on,…the same logic applies in purchasing lemon cars. Without a mechanic’s expert opinion, it is difficult to determine the condition of the vehicle underneath the hood. My lemon law office gets at least one call a day of unsuspecting car owners who subsequently learn that their 2007 Dodge Caravan has a 2005 engine or component on it.

Tip #5: Bring a friend during your visit to the dealership. During my pre-lasik surgery days, my friends always advise that four eyes are usually better than two. Buying a vehicle can be stressful and it is a good idea to have your friend look for potential red flags and defect cover-ups while you talk to the used car salesman.

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Four months ago, a friend of mine called my office four days before his scheduled administrative hearing with the Texas Department of Transportation regarding his lemon vehicle. I asked him to forward the documents to my office before I agreed to attend the hearing with him.

Upon receiving the documents, I noticed that my friend’s file did not include a copy of the notice letter to the car manufacturer. I asked my friend about this and he told me that when he called the 1 800 lemon law number to the Texas Department of Transportation, he spoke with a representative from the department and the person on the phone told him that he did not need to mail the manufacturer any.

I ended up attending the hearing with my friend anyways. At the hearing, the administrative judge focused on the fact my friend failed to provide written notice to the manufacturer. Further, the administrative judge stated that because of the failure to provide the manufacturer with a 30 day notice, that my friend also did not provide the manufacturer with a final opportunity to cure.

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Regardless of whether you are scheduled to attend either the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Arbitration or the Texas lemon law administrative hearing (in order to get a lemon vehicle buyback or replacement), it is important to be prepared with essential documents that will help you win your case.

Before proceeding further, I must caution you that although I am an attorney who concentrates my practice to Texas lemon law related cases, that the information found here is not and should not be treated as legal advice. The reason is because every case, regardless of how similar, is different. Therefore, this information is simply a public service presentation and you should contact a Texas lemon law attorney as soon as possible in the event that you have recently purchased a new lemon car.

Because both of the above-mentioned programs generally do not have an attorney fee shifting provision that requires the car manufacturer to pay for your attorney fees if you prevail — having an attorney represent you in these hearing can be cost prohibitive. Under Texas lemon law, the only time the attorney fee shifting can be invoked by the consumer is when the automobile manufacturer is represented by an attorney at the hearing.

Documentation is key at the hearing. You must have written proof that your car meets the rebuttable presumption of the program. For example, if you are arguing that your car is a lemon because it has been subject to repairs for the illumination of the check engine light, then having for documented repair invoices issued by the service center will solidify your case, rather than relying on the arbitrator or administrative judge to take your word for it.
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The single most important information that consumers need to know about the Texas lemon law is the deadline to filing a timely claim. Unfortunately, the law does not require car dealers or manufacturers to affirmatively disclose this information. Therefore, new car buyers often find themselves ineligible for the Texas lemon law because they rely on the dealer’s promise that the car is fixed and have waited to long to assert their rights.

Under Texas lemon law, a consumer must open a case with the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) within 24 months from the automobile’s date of purchase or within 24,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Please note that there is a 6 months grace period after the expiration of the deadline, but such grace period is very difficult to assess.

It is recommended that if you suspect that you have a lemon car, that you contact a Texas lemon law attorney as soon as possible — or, at minimum, open a claim with the DOT immediately.

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Too often, when faced with a new broken car, consumers are unfamiliar with their lemon law rights. Burdened with frustration and the runaround from car dealerships and the manufacturer, some consumers resort to trading in their vehicle at a substantial loss.

Recently, the Fort Worth Star Telegram wrote a brief summary about the Texas lemon law. Personally, I think that this public announcement is a very commendable thing that our local newspaper is doing.

In summary, the newspaper article accurately states that a consumer with a suspected lemon should contact the Texas Department of Transportation by calling the local toll free number immediately. In addition, there is a $35 fee, which is refundable to the consumer if the consumer wins the lemon case via the Texas DOT.

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