Understanding Missouri Lemon Law
Missouri’s lemon law is known as the Missouri New Vehicles Warranty Law.
The Missouri law protects buyers of new vehicles by enforcing the manufacturer’s express warranty. However, it does not apply to used cars. The Missouri lemon law doesn’t apply to leased vehicles either, unless the car was bought through a lease-purchase agreement.
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Missouri law also doesn’t completely cover commercial motor vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds or recreational motor vehicles other than their chassis, engines, powertrain, and component parts.
Missouri lemon law covers any “nonconformity,” defined as any problem or condition that impairs the use, market value safety of the new motor vehicle to the consumer. Consumers must report problems or defects in writing to the manufacturer to use Missouri’s lemon law provisions. If the consumer does so during the warranty term or within one year of receiving the vehicle, the manufacturer must fix the nonconformity.
Missouri’s lemon law presumes the manufacturer has been allowed a “reasonable number of repair attempts” to fix the nonconformity. The law defines this number as four or more repair attempts by the manufacturer or their authorized agents. 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.
The lemon law states that before pursuing further resolution, the consumer or their representative must give written notification to the manufacturer of the need to repair the problem. Then the manufacturer is allowed one final repair attempt. Once notified, the manufacturer must immediately inform the consumer regarding a reasonably accessible repair facility. After the consumer takes the vehicle to the repair facility, the manufacturer has 10 days to completely fix the problem so the vehicle conforms to the warranty.
Often manufacturers will mandate an “informal dispute settlement procedure,” i.e. arbitration, before proceeding with any refund or replacement. Missouri’s lemon law says any action must be commenced within six months after the express warranty expires, or 18 months following the vehicle’s original delivery to the consumer.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
Missouri 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, Missouri 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 may have to pay the claimants’ reasonable attorneys’ fees if the claimant prevails against the manufacturer.
While some Indiana car consumers are best served by the lemon law in Indiana, many others will resort to the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act to get the compensation they need and deserve.
Missouri’s lemon law covers consumers who file a complaint within six months after the vehicle’s express warranty expires or 18 months after the vehicle’s original delivery, whichever comes first. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, however, borrows its statute of limitations from the state in which the claim originates. Therefore consumers filing a Magnuson-Moss claim in Missouri have five years to do so.
The lemon law in Missouri does not cover used vehicles. However, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act covers vehicles suffering from problems that arise during the vehicle’s manufacturer-issued warranty. Most used vehicles are purchased long after their original warranty expired, so it’s best to consult with an attorney.
Both the state law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act allow consumers to recover their attorney’s fees after they win in court. Missouri’s lemon law specifically states the court must award the consumer aggregate costs and expenses if they prevail, including attorney’s fees based on actual time expended. Lemon law attorneys take these cases knowing they will recover their fees from the manufacturer, meaning consumers never pay a penny out of pocket.
Whether using the lemon law in Missouri or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, hiring a lemon law attorney is the best way to ensure your claim reaches a just and fair conclusion. The driven and experienced attorneys of Allen Stewart, P.C. will help navigate your case through the legal system’s complexities and pitfalls and make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys aren’t afraid to take your case to trial if needed, and will keep you updated at every step of the process. Don’t wait; contact us today and get back on the road.
Consumers filing claims under the lemon law in Missouri should always maintain detailed records of any and all repair attempts. Those records should include what problems they reported, when they reported them, and what repairs the dealership or their authorized agents undertook on the vehicle.
Rigorously kept records let attorneys build rock-solid cases, increasing your chances of a favorable resolution. Keep every receipt and bill, no matter what.
The lemon law in Missouri forces manufacturers to repay consumers the full purchase price of the vehicle, if they prevail in court. The manufacturer must also pay “all reasonably incurred collateral charges” including sales taxes, license fees, registration fees, title fees and motor vehicle inspection costs. The law does, however, allow manufacturers to withhold a “reasonable allowance for the consumer’s use of the vehicle.”
Missouri lemon law requires any manufacturer replacing a lemon vehicle provide an identical or “reasonably equivalent new motor vehicle” the consumer finds acceptable.
Clients can use settlement proceeds for any number of uses after their claim resolves.
As clients often finance their vehicles, they remain on the hook for those car payments even when the vehicle is under repair for defects. Indeed, clients must continue making their car payments throughout the lifetime of their lemon law claim. Once they receive their settlement funds, they can use those funds to pay off the remainder of their loan and get out from under a nonconforming, defective vehicle.
If you purchased your defective vehicle outright, your settlement funds could also go toward purchasing a new vehicle altogether. Funds recovered through your lemon law claim could be used as a down payment on a new vehicle – hopefully one without recurring, unfixable problems.
You can use the money recovered through a successful lemon law claim any way you see fit. That money represents more than reparation for money lost on a defective vehicle. It represents you standing up and asserting your rights as an American consumer. Don’t let automotive manufacturers push you around and leave you in the dust. Contact us today so we can get you back behind the wheel.