Understanding Delaware Lemon Law
Delaware’s lemon law covers any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use and value, or safety of the motor vehicle to the consumer. The lemon law defines these issues as “nonconformities.” Delaware’s lemon law does not cover nonconformities resulting from abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or alterations by the purchaser.
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The Delaware lemon law compels manufacturers to repair eligible nonconformities as long as the consumer reports the problem within the term of the warranty or within a period of one year after the vehicle’s delivery to the consumer, whichever is earlier. Once notified, the manufacturer must make the necessary repairs within a reasonable amount of time.
The consumer must allow the manufacturer a reasonable number of repair attempts to bring the vehicle into compliance with the warranty. The lemon law defines a “reasonable number of attempts” as four attempts to fix the same problem without success. After this, if the nonconformity remains, or if the vehicle is out of service for more than 30 calendar days, the manufacturer must repurchase or replace the vehicle.
The Delaware lemon law requires manufacturers to repay the full purchase price when repurchasing a vehicle, including credit for any trade-in vehicles. They must also repay any related purchase costs, including sales taxes, registration fees and dealer preparation fees. The manufacturer may withhold a reasonable allowance for use, calculated using the number of miles driven before the first report of nonconformity.
Delaware’s lemon law compels manufacturers replacing a vehicle to provide a new vehicle comparable to the one being replaced. They must also reimburse the consumer for any incidental costs, including dealer preparation fees, registration fees, sales taxes or other charges. The reasonable allowance for use provision does not apply in cases of replacement.
If the manufacturer has established an informal dispute settlement procedure, i.e. arbitration, the consumer must first resort to it before pursuing repurchase or replacement. The procedure must be certified or approved by the Delaware Division of Consumer Protection.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
Delaware consumers with warrantied vehicle problems would be well served to contact a law firm for a consultation on what their next step should be, whether it be going through with arbitration or proceeding to trial. In court, consumers are guaranteed the ability to gather evidence under the state’s civil discovery rules, and to be represented by a qualified lawyer who can guide them through the often complex legal process.
By pursuing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Delaware consumers can hire lemon lawyers who will represent them without the vehicle owner having to pay any attorneys’ fees directly out of their pocket. This is because the federal Act provides that the vehicle manufacturer shall pay the claimants’ reasonable attorneys’ fees if the claimant prevails against the manufacturer.
Ross said clients whose claims result in funds awarded can use that money for any purpose they choose, whether it’s buying a new vehicle, paying off the last vehicle, or literally anything.
Clients who bought their vehicle through financing must keep making their monthly payments on it, regardless if they still possess it, if it is drivable or if it’s in the shop. Failing to make your required auto loan payments can adversely affect your lemon law claim. Clients who prevail against their manufacturer or receive a settlement can use those funds to pay off the rest of their auto loan. Once they are freed from their bad loan, these clients can seek a new vehicle – hopefully one lacking repeated, unfixable problems unlike their lemon car.
Clients who purchased their vehicle outright or paid it off by the time they resolved their lemon law claim could use their funds as a down payment on a new vehicle, or to purchase a used vehicle that’s slightly less expensive. It’s your money, your decision.
The Delaware lemon law explicitly does not cover used vehicles. As is the case in most states, lemon law protections only cover vehicles still under their original manufacturer’s warranty. Since most used vehicles are purchased long after their original manufacturer’s warranty expired, Delaware’s lemon laws don’t apply to them. Depending on your specific situation you may have a fraud case, so you should contact a qualified lemon law attorney to discuss the details.
Whether your vehicle’s manufacturer settles or you prevail against them in court, you can use your awarded money however you choose. Statutes of limitation determine when you can file a claim, so you should act quickly. Contact Allen Stewart P.C. today and get your claim started.
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