We handle cases across the United States. Allen Stewart is licensed to practice law in Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona.
How Long Does the Lemon Law Process Take?
Vehicle ownership comes with a lot of responsibility. You are responsible for monthly payments if the vehicle is financed, regular maintenance costs and the upkeep from fuel to oil to preferred after-market accessories.
When that vehicle does not perform as expected, the situation changes significantly. Not only are the regular expenses on your plate, but you have to determine the best way to get it fixed and back to providing reliable transportation.
The last thing you want to hear as a vehicle owner who has a defective vehicle is that a resolution will take time. However, that is the truth. It is worth noting that, because of the Texas Lemon Law, the potential for resolution is closer than it might be in other states. However, that does not mean a resolution can be reached immediately.
When filing a claim under the Texas Lemon Law, it is important to be prepared, pay the $35 fee and have sufficient evidence of the defect and its impact on your vehicle. With that, the potential for a Lemon Law case to end more quickly increases.
How long your claim will take to resolve, however, depends on several circumstances.
Typically, the time frame is one month to five months. Various factors play a role in this consideration, from the time of year the complaint is filed to the manufacturer the complaint is regarding. Some manufacturers tend to draw out the process, while others meet required deadlines and help the matter resolve in a timely manner.
Holidays tend to interfere with the process, so for auto owners who file near Christmas, for example, the expectation should be a longer period before a resolution occurs. This is because the holidays can mean people on vacation and therefore harder to contact to arrange for testimony or evidence gathering.
If a trial is necessary, obviously that extends the time frame expectations.
For those who have appropriate documentation, the time frame may be shorter. This is why it is important to keep all service reports and detailed records of the issue, repair attempts, contact with the manufacturer or dealer and the days the vehicle sits idle.
All of these details will be important when you file a Lemon Law complaint. Likewise, the documents will support the claim during mediation or in the case a hearing becomes necessary. In order to be sure your vehicle is replaced as it should be by the manufacturer, it pays to be very organized and detailed in your documentation.
For any vehicle owner, it pays to be careful and keep track of all attempts to get the vehicle serviced. If the issue is unresolved after one attempt to get it fixed, then it pays to keep the service reports, document all periods the vehicle cannot be driven and be sure you continue to present the issue the same way during each visit to a mechanic.
Is the issue something that seriously impacts the value of the vehicle? If so, that qualifies under the Texas Lemon Law. Likewise, if the defect puts the driver and passengers at risk, that makes it eligible for coverage under the Texas Lemon Law.
However, if the defect is inconvenient but not a detriment to the value or more than inconvenience to the driver and/or passengers, then it would not be covered.
If the vehicle’s defect is serious enough, the next consideration is whether the issue requires the vehicle sit idle.
Is the vehicle defect so serious it has sat idle for 30 days cumulative or more in the 24 months since it was purchased or while it was driven the first 24,000 miles? If the answer is yes, then again, this vehicle is likely covered under the Texas Lemon Law and a complaint should be filed using this means of seeking resolution.
It is important to note here that, prior to reaching out to the Texas Department of Transportation, it is worth contacting the manufacturer to offer an opportunity to handle the repairs without intervention.
It is also important that you realize the Texas Lemon Law requires you to make four or more attempts to fix the issue by taking the vehicle to the service department at the dealership or a qualified mechanic. If you have not made four or more attempts to have the same issue resolved, then the complaint will not be advanced to mediation.
It is a $35 fee to file the complaint, so it is worth your time and money to take it in for repairs that required number of times prior to taking the complaint route.
Here is where it is important to note that the time frame for resolution may stretch out. After all, you have to make attempts to have the vehicle fixed prior to the complaint process. Also, you have to be sure the vehicle meets the criteria to be considered a lemon and the defect is such that it is covered under the Texas Lemon Law.
If all of those factors are in order, it is still going to take some time.
When you fill out the complaint and file it online, the manufacturer will be contacted. It is in your best interest to have proof (preferably certified mail) to show that you have already made them aware of the situation, or they will attempt to use plausible deniability to avoid taking responsibility.
From there, the Texas Department of Transportation staff have to look over the factors of the case, hear from the manufacturer and then determine the best time for a mediation.
The mediation will take place and you both have the chance to attempt to find a middle ground. Usually, a manufacturer will try to avoid spending any money on a vehicle that is under your ownership. Likewise, they will try to find a way to escape taking responsibility for a defective vehicle.
That is another reason the process may take some time before resolution is reached.
The Texas Lemon Law is intended to protect the auto owner from a prolonged court battle. However, that is not to say the process is an instant resolution to the problem. Evidence, mediation and a hearing where both sides are heard are all important parts of the process, and those parts take time. It may seem counterintuitive, but the process is set up that way to continue to protect the auto owner and help them find a satisfactory resolution.
The three options for resolution, provided the case is found in the favor of the auto owner, are repurchase, replacement and repair. Repurchase means the manufacturer repays the auto owner for the vehicle, with considerations made for the miles it was driven. Replacement means a comparable vehicle is provided that is not defective and finally, repair is the chance for the manufacturer to have the specific vehicle in question repaired satisfactorily.
Any aftermarket additions to the vehicle are not considered during either repurchase or replacement. However, the vehicle will be of comparable value to the vehicle you drove off the lot and will not be defective. This means a safe and reliable vehicle for the owner to drive, which in the end is the best possible outcome.