The Texas lemon law protects Texans who inadvertently purchase “lemons;” vehicles with repeated, unfixable problems. The lemon law in Texas offers consumers the tools needed to seek justice when automobile manufacturers fail to stand behind their warranties as required by law.
If the Texas lemon law can’t help you, Texans can still turn to the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The Act, as a federal law, protects consumers regardless of what state in which they live.
How Do I Know if I Have a Lemon?
The Texas lemon law covers vehicles including cars, trucks, vans, all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, motor homes and neighborhood electric vehicles. The lemon law in Texas does not, however, cover used vehicles whose manufacturer’s warranties have expired, repossessed vehicles, non-travel trailers, boats or farming equipment.
Problems covered by the Texas lemon law are those the law considers a “serious defect.” That is defined as a problem that “substantially impairs the use or market value of the vehicle.” If that defect keeps the car from cranking or being driven safely, it’s considered a serious defect. For example, a problem or defect with the vehicle’s safety system or engine would be considered a serious defect. The law also covers any defect that affects the vehicle’s resale value, such as unpleasant smells or paint issues.
The lemon law in Texas does not cover, however, problems caused by the owner’s abuse, neglect or unauthorized changes. If the problem you allege is a defect can be traced to an after-market modification or simple damage, you’re out of luck. The law also doesn’t cover minor problems that don’t substantially affect the vehicle’s use or market value, such as minor rattling noises or car stereo problems.
Consumers looking for relief through the Texas lemon law must first make sure their vehicle passes one of three tests: the four times test, serious safety hazard test, or the 30 day test.
A vehicle passes the four times test if the dealership or its authorized agents attempt repair two times for the same problem or defect within the first year or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, and twice more during the first 12 months or 12,000 miles following the first repair attempt without the problem being fixed.
A vehicle passes the serious safety hazard test if it’s owner takes it into the shop to repair a serious safety problem once during the first 12 months of ownership or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, and then once more during the 12 months or 12,000 miles following the first repair attempts without the problem being fixed.
A vehicle passes the 30-day test if it has been in the shop for repair because of problems covered by the original factory warranty for a total of 30 days or more during the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership without a comparable loaner vehicle offered, and there were two repair attempts during the first year or 12,000 without any success.
How to Get Your Money Back
The Texas lemon law lets consumers who prevail in court demand their automobile’s manufacturer repurchase their vehicle from them. The law requires manufacturers repay the consumer the full purchase price of the vehicle. This includes the total purchase price, sales taxes, title, registration and documentary fees. This doesn’t include interest, finance charges or insurance premiums. The manufacturer must also pay what the Texas lemon law calls “reasonable incidental costs resulting from loss of use of the motor vehicle.” These costs include alternative transportation such as a rental car, towing costs, phone or mail communications made when contacting the dealership or manufacturer, meals and lodging as necessary when the vehicle fails on an out-of-town trip, personal property loss or damage the defect causes, attorney’s fees if the complainant hires an attorney after learning the manufacturer has an attorney, and items or accessories added to the vehicle after purchase.
The manufacturer can, however, withhold a “reasonable allowance for the consumer’s use of the vehicle.” This means the manufacturer subtracts part of the repurchase amount depending on how much the consumer drove the vehicle when it functioned properly.
How to Get a New Car
The Texas lemon law also lets victorious consumers demand their automobile’s manufacturer replace their defective vehicle with one that functions properly. The law makes manufacturers replace the defective vehicle with a comparable vehicle. In this case, “comparable” means a vehicle of a similar make and model. Much like repurchase, the manufacturer must reimburse the consumer for reasonable incidental costs (towing, alternate transportation, etc.) while also withholding a reasonable allowance for the consumer’s vehicle use.
What If the Texas Lemon Law Can’t Help Me?
The lemon law in Texas can help some consumers, but not all. The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, however, offers certain advantages over the Texas lemon law. Most importantly, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty makes manufacturer’s pay the consumer’s attorney’s fees if the consumer wins in court.
The lemon law attorneys of Allen Stewart, P.C. will use the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act to get you compensated for your lemon vehicle, get you back on the road and your life back on track. Don’t wait any longer than you already have: reach out and contact us today.