Imagine that you just bought a brand new car from a Florida dealership; It glistens in the sun and gets great mileage, but you notice that you have to mash the breaks into the floorboard to be able to stop and the roof lining already is coming untacked. Suddenly, the joy of that new vehicle has gone sour. Are you stuck with a lemon car – also know as a defective car?
Probably not. If you bought or leased a new car in Florida and found it has defects that severely affect its use, value, or safety, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle under Florida’s Lemon Law.
What is Florida’s Lemon Law?
Officially known as the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, Florida’s Lemon Law provides consumers with legal recourse if they purchase or lease a vehicle that doesn’t conform to manufacturer warranties.
The law states that consumers have 24 months after they receive a vehicle to alert manufacturers about “nonconformities” that affect the vehicle’s safety, value, or use. The lemon cars law only covers defects or nonconformities caused by the manufacturer or their service agents.
Once notified, the vehicle’s manufacturer is required to perform a “reasonable” number of attempts to bring the vehicle into compliance with its standards. While the term “reasonable” may seem subjective, Florida’s attorney general states that it implies the manufacturer or dealership has attempted to correct the nonconformity at least three times.
If the issue persists, the consumer is entitled to either a refund or a replacement vehicle.
Florida’s Lemon Law also enables consumers to seek a refund or replacement vehicle if their newly purchased or leased vehicle is out of commission for a certain number of days due to repairs for one or more nonconformities.
Florida has a form to help you notify manufacturers of any serious defects; Manufacturer notification is required after three attempts to correct the defect or if the car has been out of service for at least 15 cumulative days for repair.
Is my car’s problem covered by the Florida Lemon Law?
The law allows for coverage of any defect or nonconformity that affects your car’s safety, value, or usage. That means there are a lot of defects that are potentially covered under the lemon law. If you’re confused about whether your car’s manufacturer defect(s) are covered, contact the state’s Lemon Law hotline at 1-800-321-5366 or a Florida Lemon Law lawyer for more information.
Is my used car covered by Florida’s Lemon Law?
The federal version of the lemon cars law requires sellers to list offered warranties on each car. The warranties should be listed on a Buyer’s Guide window sticker.
In general, warranties can be written, spoken, or implied. A Buyer’s Guide window will list written warranties, while the car seller may add on spoken warranties, such as providing free services for a certain amount of time.
If the seller offers any spoken warranties, be sure to get the warranties in writing. If you don’t, you may not be able to hold the seller to their spoken terms.
It’s important to note that extended warranties aren’t legally considered warranties under federal law. Think twice before shelling out more cash for something that may not benefit you as much as promised and may not give you legal protection from buying a lemon car.
Buying a car “as is” may deny any warranties, which makes it unlikely that you’ll be able to use this law if you end up with a lemon. Some states prohibit the sale of “as is” cars. If you buy a used car from a private individual, note that you will not be able to use Florida’s to recoup costs or get a replacement vehicle.
Considering the nuances of whether a used car is covered under lemon protections, it’s best to consult with a Florida Lemon Law attorney who can walk you through your options.
What if I’m not offered a replacement or refund?
If the manufacturer isn’t able to repair your vehicle within the “reasonable” number of attempts and they do not offer you a replacement vehicle or a purchase price refund, you can seek arbitration through the Florida New Vehicle Arbitration Board or the manufacturer’s arbitration team, if they have one.
You are required to attempt arbitration before seeking compensation through civil action. An experienced Florida lemon law attorney will be able to help you resolve your dispute and craft the strongest case possible so you get the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today for a free case consultation.