Warranties are intended to protect the consumer from situations where the product purchased does not live up to expectations. The application of a warranty allows the buyer some confidence that the item they are purchasing will work as advertised or be replaced if defects are discovered.
Warranties come in different forms. When it comes to vehicles, there are express warranties and implied warranties.
Brand new vehicles purchased from a dealer are covered by warranties. However, there are certain situations where warranty coverage may apply to a used vehicle as well.
It is important to understand the warranties that cover a vehicle when it is purchased and what is covered by that warranty. In cases where an issue arises and there are breach of warranty claims, this is important to understand. Also, the Texas Lemon Law may be important in a situation where a breach of warranty occurs.
With Express Warranties, the manufacturer or seller specifically makes a promise or statement regarding the vehicle quality. They also share specific aspects of the vehicle as a selling point and can be challenged if that statement is not found true.
All new cars are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, which covers most repairs for a set period of time following the date of purchase. Some used cars also come with an express warranty. For example, if the car is less than a year or two old, the manufacturer’s warranty might still be in effect. Or, the seller may offer a warranty that covers certain systems or repairs.
Meanwhile, implied warranties are neither spoken nor written in the sale paperwork. Instead, they are warranties that apply automatically and involve the item’s status as sales worthy and also fit to be sold to a new owner.
For example, the implied warranty of merchantability for a vehicle is that the vehicle will operate as expected, based on age and condition. This means that the new owner can expect the vehicle to run without significant impairment.
The implied warranty of fitness, meanwhile, is that the vehicle is purchased for a specific purchase and can fulfill all expectations related to that purchase. A car that is intended to provide safe travel over long distances should be able to do so, for example. Another example would be that a vehicle can travel up sharp inclines.
If the vehicle is not meeting all expectations, it is important to understand what constitutes a breach of warranty. Not every problem or defect will qualify as a “breach of warranty.” Instead, it is important to consider two factors: the clearly outlined details of the warranty itself and the issue with the vehicle – is it serious enough to be considered a breach of the warranty?
If it is considered serious enough and the potential problem is covered under the warranty, it is important to let the manufacturer and/or dealer know about the issue as soon as possible.
There are specific timeframes related to the Texas Lemon Law that make the notification of the manufacturer and/or dealer as soon as possible vital to the potential resolution of the issue. A vehicle owner who ignores the problem or delays notifying the manufacturer may find themselves in the unenviable position of no recourse to address the issue with the vehicle.
Usually, notifying an authorized dealer constitutes notice to the manufacturer—but check your Owner’s Manual to make sure. All warranties require that you give the manufacturer an opportunity to fix the defect.
There are some things to keep in mind if you consider yourself in a situation where a breach of warranty claim is relevant. The first thing is to make sure to take detailed notes on all attempts to speak with the dealer and all visits to a garage or mechanic.
Next, it is important to take the vehicle to an authorized mechanic. If the car was repaired during the warranty period by someone authorized by the seller, the manufacturer must extend your original warranty by the amount of time the car was in the repair shop.
The Texas Lemon Law covers an automobile owner in a case where the vehicle continues to have an issue despite multiple attempts to resolve the issue and an extended period of time (24 months) since the vehicle purchase. However, the vehicle owner is not protected if the issues and timeframe for said issues are not well-documented.
The Texas Lemon Law is a viable way to pursue resolution if a breach of warranty occurs.
Meanwhile, The Texas Attorney General has issued general guidelines on the purchase of a new vehicle. Some factors to consider are:
— Used versus new
— advertising of comparable models to see the typical price range and determine where your specific model falls.
— history of the vehicle (if it’s used) and any repairs already completed
The AG’s site specifically states: “Whether you buy directly from the owner or from a dealer, consider: taking it for a test drive; taking it to a mechanic of your choosing or having a mechanic visit the lot for a pre-sale inspection; and inspecting the title. If the seller won’t let you do these things, you may want to consider walking away.”
The Texas Lemon Law will protect you, in the event you have purchased a new vehicle and find a recurring issue that a mechanic is unable to fix. First, it is important to determine that the vehicle is, indeed, a lemon and qualifies as such under the state’s law for the purpose.
The vehicle must meet the following criteria:
- It has a defect that was present when received from the manufacturer or began within 24 months or 24,000 miles of the vehicle purchase;
- Said defect is covered by a manufacturer’s written warranty; owner reports the defect to the dealer or manufacturer within the warranty term;
- Owner gives the dealer a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defect or condition;
- Written notification is made to the manufacturer regarding the defect and the fact that attempts have been made to fix the defect with no satisfaction;
- The vehicle defect is detrimental to driver and or passenger safety and it impairs the vehicle’s market value.
The law presumes you have given the manufacturer or authorized dealer a reasonable number of attempts to fix the defect if you pass one of these tests: the four-times test, the serious safety-hazard test, or the 30-day test.
The four times test involves trips to the mechanic in an effort to see the vehicle properly fixed, the serious safety hazard involves the defect causing significant risk to driver and passengers and the 30-day test requires the vehicle to be out of service for 30 days from time of purchase until the 24 month or 24,000 mile mark (these days do not need to be consecutive).
For the individuals facing any of these situations, the Texas Lemon Law provides recourse to address the faulty vehicle. That recourse may include a refund, a replacement vehicle or satisfactory repair to resolve the issue for the auto buyer and ensure safe transportation.
These situations typically involve a breach of warranty and require the assistance of legal representation to properly reach a resolution.