Understanding South Dakota Lemon Law
The South Dakota lemon law provides a legal remedy for consumers who purchase new or previously untitled vehicles used for personal, family or household purposes. The lemon law further covers any other person entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce its obligations. South Dakota’s lemon law does not, however, cover consumers who lease their vehicles.
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South Dakota’s lemon law covers vehicles intended primarily for use and operation on public highways. The lemon law covers used vehicles, but not motorhomes or vehicles with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more.
The South Dakota lemon law covers “nonconforming conditions.” The lemon law defines a nonconforming condition as any condition that causes a vehicle to not conform to the terms of its express warranty. The condition also significantly impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle, and arises only in the course of ordinary use of the vehicle.
South Dakota’s lemon law does not cover any condition caused by consumer negligence, accident, vandalism, or unauthorized modification. It also does not cover damage resulting from attempts to repair the vehicle by someone other than the manufacturer or their authorized agents.
The South Dakota lemon law compels manufacturers to repair any nonconforming conditions reported within the lemon law rights period. The lemon law defines that period as one year after the vehicle’s delivery to the consumer or the first 12,000 miles of operation, whichever occurs first. The manufacturer must repair any nonconforming condition reported during this time, even if the repairs occur after the period expires. However, the manufacturer’s duty to repair ends after two years or 24,000 miles of operation, whichever occurs first.
South Dakota’s lemon law compels manufacturers to repurchase or replace any nonconforming vehicle if they are unable to successful repair it after a reasonable number of attempts. The lemon law defines a “reasonable number” as four or more times for the same nonconformity without success. The definition also covers any time the vehicle is out of service for 30 calendar days or longer to repair any nonconformity.
After the aforementioned reasonable number of repair attempts, the consumer must allow the manufacturer one final opportunity to “cure the nonconforming condition.” The manufacturer must notify the consumer of a reasonably accessible repair facility within seven days of receiving written notice of the condition. The manufacturer has 14 days after the consumer brings the car to the repair facility to fix the problem.
A manufacturer repurchasing a nonconforming vehicle must repay the vehicle’s full contract price, including all charges for undercoating, transportation, and installed options. They must also pay all governmental charges and fees, as well as finance charges and incidental damages such as towing or the cost of alternative transportation. The manufacturer may withhold a reasonable allowance of use, calculated from the number of miles driven before the first report of nonconformity.
Manufacturers replacing a nonconforming vehicle must provide a comparable new vehicle, along with a refund of all collateral charges. The reasonable allowance for use does not apply to replacement vehicles.
Before pursuing their lemon law rights to repurchase or replacement, the consumer must first resort to the manufacturer’s “informal dispute settlement procedure,” i.e. arbitration. The consumer must exhaust their options through arbitration before instituting a cause of action under the lemon law.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
By filing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, South Dakota 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 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. 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.
Clients whose claims win in court or result in settlements can use those funds for anything they want. Whether it’s purchasing a new vehicle, paying off the previous vehicle, or putting the money to any other use, the choice lies entirely with the client.
Those clients who financed their vehicle must keep making their auto loan payments, regardless of the car’s status or functionality. Even if the car is broken down entirely or in the shop and inaccessible, falling behind on payments can negatively affect your lemon law claim. However if your lemon law claim is successful (whether you settle out of court or win a judgement), you can use the money awarded to pay off what remains of the loan. Once freed from the loan’s requirements you can seek out a new vehicle, free of recurring defects.
Clients who didn’t finance and purchased their vehicle outright or have already paid their car off by the time their lemon law claim resolves can use their awarded funds as a down payment on a new vehicle, or to purchase a less expensive used vehicle. These options are up to the client – it’s their money.
The South Dakota lemon law covers used vehicles, but only those with fewer than 24,000 miles driven and only on claims filed within two years of the original delivery date. The lemon law in most states cover new cars specifically. Most used vehicles fall well outside of these requirements, though it would behoove you to contact a lemon law attorney to discuss your potential claim’s details.
No matter if your vehicle’s manufacturer settles or you prevail against them in court, money awarded following a successful lemon law claim is yours to use however you see fit. However, statutes of limitation mean time is a factor. Contact the offices of Allen Stewart P.C. today.
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