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Understanding Michigan Lemon Law
The Michigan lemon law provides relief to consumers making one of the largest purchases they will ever make: cars.
The law protects consumers who unknowingly purchase defective vehicles. The law covers any motor vehicle designated as a passenger vehicle, including SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans. Michigan’s lemon law does not cover buses, semi trucks, and motor homes.
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Michigan’s lemon law defines a “new motor vehicle” as one purchased or leased in Michigan or by a resident of Michigan, and is covered by a manufacturer’s express warranty at the time of purchase or lease. The lemon law also covers used motor vehicles transferred during the manufacturer’s express warranty period.
The Michigan lemon law covers consumers who buy or lease a new vehicle for personal, family or household use and not for the purpose of selling or leasing it to someone else. It covers people who buy or lease less than 10 vehicles a year. If they purchase 10 or more vehicles a year, the vehicles must not be used for business purchases. The person must be entitled to enforce the provisions of an express warranty pursuant to the terms of that warranty.
The lemon law covers any defect or condition that impairs the use or value of the new motor vehicle to the consumer. It also covers any problem that keeps the vehicle from conforming to the manufacturer’s express warranty. The law does not, however, cover any problem as a result of modifications made to the vehicle by someone other than the manufacturer. It also does not cover defects or conditions caused by abuse, neglect, or an accident occurring after the new vehicle’s purchase or lease.
The lemon law compels manufacturers to repair any defect or condition impairing the use or value of the vehicle to the consumer. Manufacturers must repair the vehicle if the consumer reports the defect or condition to the manufacturer within the warranty period or one year following the vehicle’s delivery to the consumer.
If the manufacturer can’t repair the problem, the law requires them to repurchase or replace the vehicle. Before the manufacturer does so, however, the vehicle in question must be subjected to a “reasonable number of repair attempts.” The Michigan lemon law defines that as four or more times for the same problem without success, or if the vehicle is in the shop for 30 days or more without successfully repairing the problem.
Before a consumer can take any further action, they must notify the manufacturer and allow them one final attempt to fix the problem. The notice must be sent in writing by the consumer or their representative any time after the third attempt to fix the same problem, or after the vehicle has been out of service for at least 25 days.
After receiving the notice, the manufacturer must notify the consumer as soon as possible of a reasonably accessible repair facility. The manufacturer then has five business days to fix the problem after receiving the vehicle from the consumer.
The consumer must go through a manufacturer’s “informal dispute settlement procedure,” i.e. arbitration, before pursuing further legal options. The Michigan lemon law requires a manufacturer’s arbitration process to comply with the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and requires the manufacturer to be bound by any decision reached by the arbitrator.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
By pursuing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Michigan consumers can hire 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.
Lemonlawusa.org encourages vehicle owners with a lemon to hire a lemon lawyer. You can bet the car manufacturers have legal counsel at the ready to help defend against lemon law claims both in arbitration and in court.
Ross said breach of warranty clients whose claims resolve successfully can use their awarded funds for any purpose they want. That can include paying off their outstanding auto loan, buying a new vehicle, or anything else.
If the client financed their vehicle, they must continue making their periodic payments throughout the life of their lemon law claim. They must make these payments no matter if they still have the vehicle, the car is in the shop, or is entirely inoperable. Falling behind on payments could imperil their lemon law claim.
If the client has since paid off their auto loan, or they bought their vehicle outright, they can use their awarded funds as a down payment on a new vehicle. Conversely they could purchase outright a less expensive used vehicle. The decision lies entirely with the client.
The Michigan lemon law covers used vehicles if the vehicle is still covered by the manufacturer’s express warranty. However, most used vehicles are resold long after the manufacturer’s express warranty expires. If you are unsure about your specific situation, contact a lemon law lawyer and discuss the details of your case; you may have a valid claim.
Statutes of limitations for both the Michigan state lemon law and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act can keep you from getting the compensation you deserve if you wait too long. Contact the office of Allen Stewart P.C. today for your free initial consultation. Our lemon law attorneys have combined decades of experience taking on automotive manufacturers who fail to abide by warranties.
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