Understanding Minnesota Lemon Law
The Minnesota lemon law protects consumers who unknowingly purchase defective vehicles.
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Minnesota’s lemon law covers passenger automobiles designed and used to carry no more than 15 people including the driver. This covers pickup trucks and passenger vans. The law further covers the chassis or van portion of a recreational vehicle, as well as the chassis or van portion of an ambulance. The law also covers used vehicles.
The Minnesota lemon law covers purchasers or those leasing new vehicles used for personal, family, or household purposes at least 40% of the time. The law’s protections extend to those to whom the new vehicle is transferred within the duration of the manufacturer’s written warranty. Licensed ambulance services that purchase or lease a new ambulance are covered by the law as well.
The lemon law covers any “nonconformity” of the vehicle. The law defines nonconformity as any defect or condition that doesn’t conform to the manufacturer’s written warranty that substantially impairs the use or market value of the vehicle to the consumer.
Problems that don’t substantially impair the use or market value of the vehicle, such as radio problems or slight rattles, aren’t covered by the law. Nonconformities caused by abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the vehicle by the consumer are likewise not covered.
The manufacturer must repair any nonconformity if the consumer reports it within the period of the written warranty, or within the “eligibility period.” The law defines the eligibility period as either the period specified in the warranty, two years after the date of the vehicle’s original delivery to the consumer, or within the first 24,000 miles of operation – whichever comes first.
The consumer must allow the manufacturer a “reasonable number of repair attempts” to fix the nonconformity. The Minnesota lemon law defines reasonable number of repair attempts as four or more attempts for the same problem without success. The manufacturer has only one attempt to repair a problem with the vehicle’s steering or braking system likely to cause death or injury.
After this, if the nonconformity remains, or if the vehicle is out of service for more than 30 working days, the manufacturer must repurchase or replace the vehicle. A manufacturer repurchasing a nonconforming vehicle must pay the full vehicle purchase price, including the cost of any options or modifications installed by the manufacturer or dealer. The manufacturer must also pay back sales or excise taxes, license and registration fees and reimbursement for towing. The manufacturer can withhold a reasonable allowance for use.
Minnesota’s lemon law requires manufacturers repurchasing a leased vehicle to pay the lessor a full refund of the vehicle’s original purchase price, less any amounts paid by the consumer on the lease. The manufacturer must also pay the lessee the amount they paid as well, plus any sales or excise taxes.
The Minnesota lemon law requires a manufacturer replacing a nonconforming vehicle to provide a comparable vehicle.
Minnesota’s lemon law requires all manufacturers selling vehicles in the state to participate in an “informal dispute settlement mechanism,” i.e. arbitration, located in the state. Consumers must first use this mechanism before suing in court under the lemon law.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
The manufacturer must abide by the decision of the arbitrator, while the consumer does not. If dissatisfied with the outcome, a consumer can bring legal action in the civil court system. By filing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Minnesota consumers can hire lawyers who will represent them without the vehicle owner having to pay any attorneys’ fees directly out of their pocket. The 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 law attorney.
Ross said those who prevail in court against their vehicle’s manufacturer or settle with them out of court can use their awarded funds however they choose. That can include paying off their old car loan, making a down payment on a new car, or anything else they so choose.
If you financed your lemon vehicle, you must keep making loan payments throughout the life of the loan, even as your lemon law claim makes its way through the legal system. You must keep making these payments whether you still have the vehicle, it’s stuck in the shop or even completely inoperable. Falling behind could negatively affect your lemon law claim. However, once you pay off your loan you’re free to seek a new vehicle.
If you bought your car outright or paid it off by the time your lemon law claim resolves, you can put your awarded funds toward a down payment on a new vehicle. You could instead use the money to purchase a less expensive used vehicle if you so choose.
The Minnesota lemon law covers used vehicles but their defects must arise during the vehicle’s express warranty period. The consumer must report the problem to the manufacturer or dealer within that period or two years following the vehicle’s original delivery to a consumer. Most used vehicles are resold long after those periods end, so check with a lemon law lawyer to make sure you have a valid lemon law claim.
Money earned through a successful lemon law claim can be used for whatever the client wants, but statutes of limitation can keep them from getting the compensation they deserve. Contact the office of Allen Stewart P.C. today and start your claim today.
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