A Guide To Understanding Florida’s Lemon Law
– What Vehicles Are Covered Under Florida’s Lemon Law?
– What Is a Nonconformity?
– What Is a Reasonable Number of Attempts?
– What Is Required of The Car Owner Under Florida’s Lemon Law?
– When Does The Manufacturer Repurchase or Replace the Vehicle
– How Do You Write a Notification To The Manufacturer?
– How Much Can You Recover?
– How Do You Resolve Disputes Between You and The Car Manufacturer?
– Should You Hire an Attorney For the Arbitration Process?
– Hire Our Law Firm To Help You Seek a Replacement or Repurchase
After purchasing a new car, dealing with frequent repairs and visits to the mechanic are the least of your intentions. Unfortunately, you may be the victim of a “lemon” car that requires multiple repairs that are costly in the end. Fortunately, many states in the United States, including Florida, have lemon laws that protect consumers from faulty new cars or demonstrator vehicles.
TheFlorida Lemon Lawunder the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act provides cover for nonconformities, which are essentially defects that impede the use and value of a vehicle. According to the Florida lemon law, you can report these defects to the manufacturer or authorized dealer after several failed attempts at fixing the problem with the car. If the defects are impossible to fix, the manufacturer may repurchase the vehicle and offer a replacement.
Let’s explore the Florida lemon law and how the Shiner Law Group can assist.
What Vehicles Are Covered Under Florida’s Lemon Law?
The lemon law applies to:
- Cars and trucks purchased or leased for the transportation of people or property. The vehicles should be used for personal or household use and not resale.
- Recreational vehicles that are not used for living and vehicle converters.
- Vehicles purchased or leased from a car dealer in Florida within the first two years.
- The lemon law doesn’t include recreational vehicles with living facilities, vehicles used only on-tracks, motorcycles, mopeds, trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds, and off-road vehicles.
- The lemon law also applies to people who acquire vehicles from the first owner for household and personal uses within the first 24 months and lessees that can enforce a warranty.
What Is a Nonconformity?
For the lemon law to apply, the vehicle in question needs to have a nonconformity. This applies to defects that affect the “use, value, and safety” of the vehicle. The defect should not come from any form of abuse of the vehicle, an accident, moderations, neglect, or an alteration by another party besides the manufacturer and authorized dealer.
How Long After Purchase Can You Apply Florida’s Lemon Law?
The rights under the lemon law apply during the “Lemon Law Rights Period.” This timeframe is 24 months after the original date of delivery of the vehicle to the owner or lessee.
What Is a Reasonable Number of Attempts?
As the consumer, should you notice that your car does not conform to your warranty, you should report the defects to the manufacturer or dealer. You should make the report during the Lemon Law Rights Period, and the manufacturer or authorized agent should make reasonable repairs. Even if the repairs exceed the prescribed 24 months in the rights period, you’re still within your rights.
The manufacturer makes a final repair after three attempts at fixing the same nonconformity. They can also make repairs when your vehicle is out of service for more than 15 days due to one or several defects.
Under Florida’s lemon law, a repair attempt only counts if a part is replaced or if an adjustment is made to correct the defect. The defect in question should be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and should only be corrected by the manufacturer or an authorized agent. If another person repairs the car, it does not qualify as a repair attempt under Florida’s lemon law.
What Is Required of The Car Owner Under Florida’s Lemon Law?
What happens after three repair attempts, and your car still has a defect? As the consumer, you’re required to write to the manufacturer and inform them of the need for a final repair. You can send your written notice through mail, express, or registered.
Once you’ve notified the manufacturer, they have 10 days after receiving your letter to respond. In response, the manufacturer should allow you to fix the car in a nearby agent’s shop. Once you deliver your car to an accessible repairer, the manufacturer should fix the car within 10 days. However, a 45-day allowance is set aside for recreational vehicles.
What happens if the manufacturer does not respond within 10 days of receiving your mail?
The Florida lemon law specifies that they lose their right to be given a final repair attempt. The manufacturer also loses its right to a final repair if it does not fix the nonconformity within the required 10 or 45 days.
What happens if your car is out of service for more than 15 days?
Let’s say you deliver your vehicle for repairs, and the car stays at the mechanic for more than 15 days. In this case, your vehicle should be in for a manufacturer’s defect, and non-regular maintenance usually prescribed in the owner’s manual.
When the 15 days lapses, write a notice to the manufacturer and deliver it through express or direct mail. Once the manufacturer receives your notice, they should inspect and repair the car.
What days count as out-of-service for your vehicle?
It’s any day, including holidays and weekends, when you leave your car at the manufacturer’s or authorized dealer’s repair shop. The days of examination and fixing start when you deliver your car to the repair shop for a defect covered under the manufacturer’s warranty and end when the repairs are complete.
However, the following days do not qualify as out-of-service:
- If you leave your car at the repair shop for fixes after the lemon law rights period expiration.
- If you leave your car for defects not covered under warranty.
- If you take your car to the repair shop for minor defects or routine maintenance.
When Does The Manufacturer Repurchase or Replace the Vehicle
After three attempts at fixing the defect in your car, even after writing to the manufacturer for a final attempt, the manufacturer should repurchase or replace your car. The right to a replacement or repurchase also applies when your car has been out of service for 30 days or more. This timeframe does not include any time spent on routine maintenance. Usually, a period of 30 (or 60 days for recreational cars) is allowed and is extendable if the repairs are interrupted by war, strikes, natural disasters, or fire.
How Do You Write a Notification To The Manufacturer?
After three failed attempts at fixing a nonconformity or after your car stays out of service for more than 15 days, it’s time to write a notice to the manufacturer. You should use the Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form available in your consumer guide or booklet to Florida’s lemon law.
Usually, the dealer provides this booklet to you when you purchase your car. However, you can also use the Lemon Law Hotline 1-800-321-5366 in Florida to acquire the booklet. You can also find relevant information and documents through theAttorney General’s website.
How Much Can You Recover?
While you reserve the right to choose a repurchase instead of a replacement, the arbitration board can also decide what you get. In case of a reward, the amount of settlement is deducted by a “reasonable offset for use.” This deduction covers the mileage a consumer has put into the vehicle up the day of the arbitration hearing or the settlement. In case of a replacement, you’re required to pay the offset amount to the manufacturer. The State of Florida provides ageneral formulafor calculating the reward and offset.
How Do You Resolve Disputes Between You and The Car Manufacturer?
When the manufacturer fails to fix the defects within the specified period but does not offer a repurchase or replacement, you have the right to seek justice through arbitration. You’re required to file aRequest for Arbitrationwith the Attorney General’s office within 60 days after the expiration of your Lemon Law Rights period (24 months after the delivery of the car to you).
However, if the manufacturer has its arbitration program, the dispute should first be submitted to the manufacturer’s program. The program should be state-certified, and the manufacturer should offer guidelines for applying to the program through their warranty or other papers. You can check if your manufacturer has a state-certified program on theattorney general’s site.
However, if the manufacturer’s arbitration program does not make a decision within 40 days, or if you’re unsatisfied with their decision, you can still file a Request for Arbitration with the Attorney General (AG) no later than 30 days after the period lapses or after the decision of the program. If you don’t file a request within these periods, you lose your right to arbitration.
When you file your request, the AG’s office screens it for eligibility. If there is missing information, the office sends a request for more information within a specified period. You should provide information within that period or risk the rejection of your claim. If your claim is valid, you’ll receive directions on the arbitration process and the arbitration hearing location.
Should You Hire an Attorney For the Arbitration Process?
The law does not require you to hire an attorney to represent you during the hearing. However, hiring an attorney to represent you during the hearing can help you present your case better. Experienced lawyers are also familiar with the law and can navigate arbitration procedures better than you. Lastly, the manufacturer might have their lawyer representing them, which means that you should also bring your A-game.
Hire Our Law Firm To Help You Seek a Replacement or Repurchase
If your vehicle is a lemon, you need to seek a remedy as soon as possible. TheShiner Law Groupis a reliable and trustworthy law firm that can represent you during arbitration and guide you during your contact with a manufacturer.Contact us todayfor a consultation or reach out to our offices in West Palm, Fort Pierce, Stuart, and Boca Raton.