Texas law for those who are purchasing a vehicle is not like other purchases. There is no three-day grace period to cancel. Instead, the dealer is required to register and title the vehicle in the purchaser’s name within 30 days. Once the vehicle is titled in your name, the dealer should provide the title application receipt. The title, if you own money, will be sent to the financier. For those who pay for a vehicle in full, the original title will arrive in the mail.
It may be that you didn’t test drive your vehicle, and on the drive home or the first drive in the vehicle (if it is delivered to you), you find an issue you can’t come to terms with. It also may be that an issue comes to light after a few days or even a few weeks of driving the vehicle. Either way, you have a vehicle in your possession that does not suit your expectations. This means a problem in your daily life and any time you slide behind the wheel to travel from one point to another.
Now, that said. If you are unhappy with your purchase immediately, what can you do?
• Sell the vehicle to someone else
Consider the value of the vehicle now that you have driven off the lot. You can attempt to sell the vehicle to someone else through private party sale or take it to another dealership to trade in on another vehicle – if they will cover the amount on the loan and roll it into the cost of the new vehicle, considering the trade value as well.
In these situations, you are guaranteed to lose money. Therefore, it is wise to evaluate your concerns over the vehicle and see if you can live with the vehicle until the value of a trade would be more beneficial to you.
• Trade vehicles with a trusted friend
If you can’t see yourself driving this vehicle on a daily basis, then it is wise to see what other options you have. If you have a friend you can trust who likes your new vehicle, consider a trade of vehicles so you take theirs and they take yours. Consider the payments owed on each and find a way to make the trade fair to both of you.
Consider what the consequences of an accident would be in this case and whether you are trading vehicles or swapping registration completely.
• See if the vehicle is covered under Texas Lemon Law
This process will be a long one and will require the vehicle to have a defect. If you run into an issue with the vehicle that affects the value and puts the driver and any passengers in danger, you may be dealing with a vehicle that is covered under the Texas Lemon Law.
This is a lengthy process – both in attempting to resolve the defect through repair and also passing tests to be considered a lemon under the law.
• Coverage under the Texas Lemon Law
If the vehicle needs a repair and the issue isn’t resolved on the first visit, be sure to keep track of all documentation of the trip to the mechanic, the service report from the dealership or mechanic and all notes you have on the scheduling of the visit and the results. This can turn into a time-consuming process, and starting with the documentation from the beginning is important to a resolution in your favor.
The Texas Lemon Law states that four or more attempts to fix the same defect must be made before the vehicle is considered a lemon covered under the law. It is also important to note that the vehicle must be considered by original warranties from the manufacturer to be considered a lemon law vehicle, per the state law.
Also, it is important to keep track of the days the vehicle can not be driven due to the defect. If there are 30 or more days the vehicle sits idle, then it is considered a lemon. Those days do not have to be consecutive, but they all must have occurred within the first 24 months of ownership or the first 24,000 miles the vehicle is driven.
Another consideration is whether the manufacturer is contacted (this is best accomplished in writing) and given the chance to help resolve the issue through repair. This means that more than four attempts will probably be made. It is best if the documentation shows that each repair attempt is focused on the same issue. If the description of the issue is different, then it could be considered repair efforts for different issues.
If the vehicle’s problems all tally up to appear as if the Texas Lemon Law applies, then the next step is to file a complaint with the Texas Department of Transportation. There is a $35 fee for the filing. Then, staff members will look over the complaint and consider whether a hearing is necessary. If a hearing is scheduled, both the vehicle owner and the manufacturer or dealer will be given an opportunity to plead their case in regard to the vehicle defect and all attempts to resolve the issues.
The hearing will result in a finding in favor of the vehicle owner or the manufacturer. In the event that the finding is in favor of the vehicle owner, then three possible outcomes may occur. The first is repair of the vehicle (again and until the issue is permanently resolved), the next is repurchase of the vehicle (with considerations made for miles driven. No aftermarket additions are considered in the value of the vehicle if this option is the outcome), and finally, replacement (with a vehicle of comparable value, again considering details like miles driven but not considering aftermarket installations).
The vehicle owner may or may not be satisfied with the decision of the hearing, but that is what is followed. If there is an issue, it is possible to file an appeal related to the findings of the hearing. This is true for both sides, regardless of which one is unsatisfied.
Considering all of the above, dealing with a problem vehicle is a tiresome process and may not be resolved in a way that completely satisfies you, the vehicle owner. For this reason, it is important to be aware of all options and know your rights in regard to vehicle ownership in Texas. Also, it is important to remember that there are options if you do end up saddled with a lemon.