Also known as the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, the Florida Lemon Law is in place to cover defects or conditions – known as nonconformities – on vehicles sold for personal use in the first 24 months after purchase. The Lemon Law covers nonconformities that severely impact the safety, market value and/or use of the vehicle. If any of these nonconformities are caused by accident, neglect, modification or alteration made on the owner’s part, it will not be covered under the Lemon Law.
What to Do If You Discover A Nonconformity
If you discover a nonconformity on your vehicle within 24 months of purchase and inform the manufacturer, below are their obligations under the Lemon Law:
- Your vehicle will first be sent for repairs. A reasonable number of attempts will take place before it is deemed beyond repair. This is defined as three or more attempts at repairing the same nonconformity or the vehicle spending 30 days or more at the repair facility. This duration is extended to 60 days for recreational vehicles.
- As long as you inform the manufacturer of the nonconformity within the 24-month period, they are liable to pay for repairs even if these repairs take place after the 24 months are up.
- If, after a reasonable number of attempts at repairing the vehicle has been unsuccessful, the manufacturer is required to either repurchase the vehicle from you or replace it.
- If the manufacturer chooses to repurchase the vehicle, they are required to pay the cash price of the vehicle, which includes (if applicable): sales taxes, collateral charges, title charges, incidental charges incurred by the nonconformity and more. The manufacturer may deduct a reasonable amount calculated based on the number of miles the consumer has used up to the date of the first report of nonconformity.
- A replacement vehicle must be one of identical or comparable value. In addition, the manufacturer is required to reimburse the consumer for sales taxes as well as expenses incurred as a result of the nonconformity, such as towing and rental fees.
Are You Covered Under the Florida Lemon Law?
If you have purchased a vehicle for personal use – that is, for family or household purposes, you are covered under the Lemon Law. If you transfer ownership of the vehicle to someone else within the first 24 months after the purchase, the coverage extends to them as well. In order to qualify for protection under the Lemon Law, consumers have to first turn to the manufacturer’s informal dispute settlement procedure, also known as an arbitrator, when they discover a problem. However, this arbitration mechanism has to be:
- Certified by the Florida Division of Consumer Services
- Made known to the consumer through written notice, including mention of it in the warranty terms
What About Used Cars?
The Florida Lemon law does not cover used cars. The only exception is if ownership of a vehicle is transferred to you within the first 24 months after its initial purchase.
What If You Are Unhappy with the Arbitration Decision?
After a decision has been made through arbitration, the manufacturer has to abide by this decision, but the consumer does not. If you are unhappy with the outcome, you can bring the case to court by filing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, where you do not have to pay attorney fees as the act stipulates that manufacturers are responsible for paying attorney fees incurred by claimants. In addition, under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, you have four years after the initial 24-month period to file a complaint.