Picture it: You pull up your driveway in the rental, go in the house and drop your briefcase. You sort through the mail, then pick up the phone. You call the dealership – again. It’s been 22 days, and they still don’t have your car fixed.
You are worried, and you can see the bill for the rental car adding up every day. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The dealership has a maximum of 30 days to keep your car for repair. If they have that vehicle longer than 30 days, it can be considered a lemon, based on Texas lemon law.
If you think you have a lemon on your hands, then now is the time to start gathering evidence and preparing to file a complaint.
The Texas lemon law has a specific test, called the 30 day test, where your vehicle sitting idle at the dealership would actually end up in your favor. That may be hard to believe, but if your vehicle sits idle and can’t be driven for 30 days during the first 24 months of ownership or the first 24,000 miles driven, then it fits a criteria for a lemon in Texas.
It is important to note here that those days at the dealership waiting for repair only count if they don’t give you a vehicle to drive during that time. If you have to rent your own vehicle or find other transportation, then those days count. If they give you a vehicle on loan, they do not.
It is also important to note that those 30 days do not have to be consecutive. If it sits for two weeks, they attempt to fix it and you find out when you get it back that it is still not fixed, then those days count and the next period it sits waiting for repair also counts.
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It also counts if the vehicle sits at your house and can’t be driven. It does not have to be at the mechanic waiting for service to count toward this day total.
The four times test means you have taken the vehicle in for repair four times or more, with no satisfactory results. It is important to know two things: first, that you have to take the vehicle in for the same repair each time. Do not describe it in a different way. That can confuse the situation. Also, it is important to keep the documentation of these efforts to get the defect repaired.
It is also important that the defect significantly decreases the value of the vehicle. Also, the defect must be significant enough to put the lives of the driver and/or passengers at risk when it is driven.
During the multiple attempts to get the vehicle repaired, it is necessary to let the manufacturer know you are having these issues. Do this in a manner that can be documented, as it is part of the criteria to file a lemon law complaint through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
It is important to make this notification sometime within six months after the milestone of 24 months of ownership or 24,000 miles driven. Again, this must be a documented task, so make sure to do so in a way that can be traced.
If the vehicle fits all of these criteria, let’s circle around to the basics.
The vehicle must be a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, RV, TRV, or electric vehicle. It must come with an original warranty from the dealership. It also must be purchased within the state of Texas.
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So, your vehicle fits all of the above criteria. That means, whether or not the dealership held onto it beyond the 30-day mark, you have a lemon on your hands and it’s time to file a complaint.
A complaint can be filed through the Texas DMV website. It does require a fee be paid upon filing. Also, it is important to have all relevant documentation available to be uploaded when the complaint is filed.
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Once you begin considering and gathering documentation, it is a good idea to also consider getting in touch with a legal professional. A Texas lemon law attorney can help you with gathering that information and making sure you have a comprehensive claim to put forth all of the available evidence.
A Texas lemon law lawyer has the past experience to be able to see if anything is missing and help you fill in the blanks before you submit your complaint. They also have support staff that can do some of the work and take some of the stress off of your shoulders.
Once the complaint is filed, a special department of the Texas DMV oversees the process through from complaint to resolution. This helps move the case along in a timely manner and avoid the delays related to working through the legal system.
The first step in the process is mediation, in order to provide a chance for both sides to reach a compromise. If that does not occur, the next step is a hearing, scheduled in front of an examiner. Both sides are given the opportunity to present evidence and share their side. Then, the examiner is given a 60-day period to issue a decision. That decision will be provided in a written format and can be appealed.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law process.
If the case is found in favor of the vehicle owner, then there are three possible outcomes. The examiner decides which option fits the situation best. The three outcomes are repair of the vehicle to a driveable standard, repurchase of the vehicle by the manufacturer, and replacement by a comparable vehicle.
The value of the vehicle is determined by taking into consideration the miles driven while in the owner’s possession, any payments made and the amounts paid for the unsuccessful repair attempts. It is important to note that any aftermarket additions do not factor into the value determined at this point.
Any vehicle that is repurchased or replaced by the manufacturer must be designated as a lemon vehicle and a designation must be placed on the vehicle’s title.
Vehicle owners who have their vehicle deemed a lemon will get restitution in some form. They will then be able to find a reliable vehicle to transport them on the day-to-day.
With this in mind, it is worthwhile to reach out to a reliable lemon law attorney with a history of success in handling lemon law cases to help you with your lemon vehicle. That way, you are more likely to see a resolution in your favor.
A legal professional can be vital to the success of a case. They can be helpful in the preparation, can provide a realistic timeline and outlook for the case until it is resolved, and they can provide the support and reassurance of that experience during a stressful time for you as the auto owner.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions and gain a strong understanding of the process, what can happen and what to avoid. They can help you with these scenarios and get you closer to hitting the road in a reliable vehicle.