Florida’s Lemon Laws

Mon, Sep 3, 2012

General Legal Issues

So, you buy a new car and you think it is a total lemon right from the start. Maybe it shudders when it turns, maybe the belt snaps constantly, maybe the paint chips easily, or maybe it has the worst blind spot ever because of the way the headrest on the seat is positioned.

Many consumers buy cars that they do not like or that have slight problems that are annoying yet liveable or easily fixable. But do these make a car a true lemon?

There are state and federal laws that govern the decisions on what makes a car a true lemon vehicle. Florida has its own lemon laws, as does each state. The Attorney General, currently Pam Bondi, is in charge of Florida’s lemon laws. This website lays out the rules Florida has set forth regarding “lemon” vehicles. It is a comprehensive resource for those looking to determine if their faulty vehicle can be constituted as a lemon.

Pam Bondi’s site says this is what constitutes a lemon: “The Lemon Law covers defects or conditions that substantially impair the use, value or safety of a new or demonstrator vehicle (these are called “nonconformities”).” However, this does not allow cars to be called a lemon in the eyes of a law indefinitely—there is a time limit in place for reporting a lemon.

Florida’s time limit is called the Lemon Law Rights Period and it is the first 24 months after the date the vehicle is delivered to the consumer. In addition, the car must be new—used cars are not covered under Florida’s lemon law. Moreover, Florida’s lemon law does not cover defects caused by accident or consumer/unauthorized modification.

This part of the Attorney General’s website gives detailed information about how to document the details about your lemon vehicle. It includes keeping notes about repairs and other important parts of getting your car declared a lemon.  We have chosen not to repeat these in this post, as the website gives specific information and it is best to hear it first-hand.

If your car is indeed declared a lemon, some possible solutions given to lemon car owners include replacement vehicles, monetary compensation, or other similar types of compensation.

If your car does not qualify as a lemon under Florida law, a federal law might protect you–the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Enacted in 1975, this law endeavors to protect consumers throughout the United States in relation to their warranties for many types of products, including vehicles.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith at SmithLaw often gets questions about what qualifies a car as a lemon. Most problems that have caused a car to be classified as a lemon include expensive problems that require many repairs or problems that endanger the safety of passengers or the driver. This can include a design flaw.

Some see design flaws as a gray area of the lemon law. But Florida’s law focuses on the problems that the car is having and this could very well be something caused by a design flaw. If many cars of your make and model were having the same problem, it would add even more proof that there is a bad problem with your vehicle. So, keep abreast of reported design flaws in the news. Online forums for specific cars can be a great source of information also.

Attorney representation might be helpful in your Florida lemon law case. Do not forget to start taking notes and keeping good records as soon as you suspect a serious problem with your car or other type of motor vehicle.

Image: Some rights reserved by CocteauBoy

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