Understanding Ohio Lemon Law
Ohio’s lemon law applies to passenger cars, noncommercial motor vehicles, and parts of motor homes not part of permanently installed facilities for cold storage, eating and sleeping.
Ohio’s lemon law defines a “passenger car” as any motor vehicle designed and used for carrying no more than 15 people. Per the Ohio Attorney General, a pickup truck used only for business purposes is not covered under the law.
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The Ohio lemon law defines a “noncommercial motor vehicle” is any vehicle, including a farm truck,” designed by the manufacturer to carry a load no heavier than one ton. The vehicle must also be used exclusively for purposes other than engaging in business for profit.
Recreational vehicles, including boats, are not covered by Ohio’s lemon law.
Ohio’s lemon law offers protection to vehicle purchasers or anyone leading a vehicle for 30 days or more. It also covers anyone to whom the vehicle is transferred during the duration of the manufacturer’s written vehicle warranty, and anyone else entitled by the terms of the warranty.
Ohio’s lemon law covers any “nonconformity” in vehicles. The law defines a nonconformity as a “defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a new motor vehicle and does not conform to the express warranty of the manufacturer or distributor.”
If a manufacturer can show the nonconformity was caused by the consumer’s abuse, or neglect, the manufacturer is not responsible. The manufacturer is also not responsible to repair nonconformities caused by unauthorized modifications or alterations to the vehicle by anyone other than the manufacturer or their agents.
Ohio’s lemon law states the manufacturer or its authorized agents must repair any vehicle with a nonconformity once notified by the consumer. The consumer must notify the manufacturer during the period of one year following the original delivery or during the first 18,000 miles of operation, whichever comes first. The manufacturer or its authorized agents must make any repairs necessary to conform the vehicle to the warranty. The repairs must be made even after the expiration of the one year or 18,000 mile period.
If the manufacturer can’t satisfactorily repair the vehicle so that it conforms to the warranty, the manufacturer must either replace or repurchase the vehicle. Whether the manufacturer replaces or repurchases the vehicle is up to the consumer. However, the manufacturer must be allowed a “reasonable number of attempts” to fix the problem.
Ohio’s lemon law defines a “reasonable number of attempts” as three or more times for the same problem, or eight or more attempts for any nonconformity on the vehicle before the vehicle is considered a lemon. Lemon law provisions also take effect if the vehicle is in the shop for repairs for a cumulative total of 30 days or if any of the attempted unsuccessful repairs was for a nonconformity that results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious injury if the vehicle is driven.
Ohio consumers seeking to file a civil claim must go through an “informal dispute settlement mechanism,” i.e. arbitration. The arbitration mechanism must abide by rules set by the Ohio Attorney General, and the consumer must receive timely notification of its availability. However, if there is no such mechanism, the manufacturer takes too long to promptly fulfill the decision made in arbitration, or the consumer is dissatisfied with the decision, the consumer may bring civil action in court.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
Ohio 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, Ohio 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. Lemonlawusa.org encourages vehicle owners with a lemon to obtain legal counsel.
The lemon law in Ohio can’t always help car consumers. When the state law fails, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act steps in. The state lemon law’s protections expire five years after the vehicle’s initial delivery to the consumer. The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protects Ohio consumers for only four years, but claims under the federal statute are often easier to pursue than under the state law.
There isn’t a specific used car lemon law in Ohio. The state’s lemon law covers vehicle problems occurring within one year following the vehicle’s delivery or within the first 18,000 miles of operation, whichever comes first. The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, however, covers any defect occurring within the manufacturer’s warranty term. This is key in pursuing your claim.
The state lemon law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act let clients recover attorney’s fees after winning in the courtroom. However, Ohio’s state law, Revised Code Section 1245.71, only allows consumers to recover attorney’s fees up to $2,500. The consumer must supply bills and another documents proving the amount spent on attorney’s fees, and the manufacturer can request a court ruling if they don’t find the amount reasonable.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act has no such limit, stating only the prevailing plaintiff may recover “reasonable costs of suit, including attorney fees.” Lemon law lawyers prosecute cases knowing they can recoup their costs after prevailing in court.
Whether you resort to the lemon law in Ohio or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty act, hiring a lemon law attorney is the best decision you can make. Allen Stewart, P.C.’s passionate team of attorneys know how to navigate the complexities and potential pitfalls of lemon law. Lemon lawyers will face your vehicle’s manufacturer and help bring your claim to a just conclusion. Allen Stewart, P.C.’s lemon lawyers aren’t afraid to take your claim all the way to trial if needed.
Meticulous record keeping can only help claims made under the lemon law in Ohio. Consumers in the state should document every trip to the dealership including what problem they find, when they first discovered the problem, when they took their vehicle in for repairs, when they got their vehicle back and what repairs the dealership or its authorized agents attempted.
Detailed records help lemon law attorneys in Ohio craft rock-solid cases likely to resolve positively for the consumers. Keeping every receipt, bill and work order goes a long way to ensuring success.
The lemon law in Ohio requires manufacturers repurchasing a defective vehicle repay consumers the contract price for the vehicle including transportation charges, dealer services and delivery charges. The manufacturer must also pay finance and service contract charges incurred by the customer, sales taxes and registration fees, and any other government charges or incidental damages.
Manufacturers replacing a defective vehicle must do so with a new vehicle acceptable to the consumer.
Ross said clients can use funds earned through a successful lemon law claim for any purpose they choose.
He said clients who financed their vehicle must continue making payments as long as they own the vehicle, even throughout the course of their lemon law claim. Falling behind on these payments could do harm to their claim. However, a client who prevails against the vehicle’s manufacturer could use settlement funds to pay off their auto loan and get out from under a burdensome auto loan.
Clients who already paid their vehicle off, or bought their vehicle outright to begin with, could use their funds as a down payment on an altogether new vehicle. Hopefully this vehicle will lack the repeated, unfixable problems that made their last vehicle a lemon in the first place.
Clients who prevail against their vehicle’s manufacturer can use their funds for anything they like, but only if they act quickly. Statutes of limitation mean the longer you wait, the fewer options you have. Contact Allen Stewart P.C. today and speak with a qualified lemon law attorney. Federal laws ensure you never pay a dime out of pocket for lemon law legal services.
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