Florida’s Lemon Law, officially known as the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, was enacted to provide relief for consumers who purchase or lease defective vehicles. However, there are certain aspects of this law that aren’t widely known. Here are five things you might not know about the Lemon Law in Florida.
1. Not All Vehicles Are Covered
While the term “vehicle” might sound all-encompassing, Florida’s Lemon Law specifically covers only new or demonstrator vehicles that are sold or long-term leased in the state. This means used vehicles aren’t covered by the standard provisions of the law.
Additionally, the law doesn’t apply to every part of the vehicle. It primarily focuses on nonconformities that can impact the vehicle’s use, safety, or value. To see if your vehicle is covered, contact a lemon law attorney.
2. The Law Has a Specific Time Frame
For a vehicle to qualify under the Lemon Law, the nonconformity must be reported to the manufacturer or its authorized service agent within the first 24 months after the delivery date. This is commonly referred to as the “Lemon Law Rights Period.”
Outside this window, even if a car exhibits chronic problems, the owner might not be eligible for relief under the Lemon Law.
3. A Set Number of Repair Attempts
What Qualifies as a Repair Attempt?
Before a car can be officially labeled a “lemon,” the manufacturer or its authorized service agent must be given a certain number of attempts to repair the vehicle’s nonconformity. In general, the law states that if the vehicle has been repaired at least three times for the same issue, or out of service for 15 or more cumulative days, it may be classified as a lemon.
4. Arbitration Can Be an Option
Consumers have the right to request state-run arbitration if they believe their vehicle qualifies as a lemon and they haven’t reached a satisfactory resolution with the manufacturer. This process is intended to provide a quicker and less costly means of resolution than going to court.
However, before heading into state arbitration, one might have to first go through the manufacturer’s own dispute settlement program, if it has been certified by the state.
5. You May Be Entitled to a Refund or Replacement
If a vehicle is officially declared a lemon, the consumer is generally entitled to choose between a refund or a replacement vehicle. The refund usually includes the full purchase price minus a reasonable charge for usage. If opting for a replacement, the new vehicle should be identical or reasonably equivalent to the one it’s replacing.
It’s crucial for consumers to keep all documentation related to repairs and communications with the manufacturer, as these can be essential when proving a lemon law claim.
Florida’s Lemon Law is designed to protect consumers from chronic vehicle issues. Understanding its nuances can be the key to successfully navigating and benefiting from its provisions.