Understanding Utah Lemon Law
Utah’s Lemon Law was updated in 2009 with new standards different from the previous law, the Motor Vehicle Warranty Rights Act.
The new law’s standards apply specifically to all vehicles purchased, leased or registered in Utah on or after Jan. 1, 2009. The Utah lemon law protects new vehicle buyers by enforcing the manufacturer’s express warranty. The law does not apply to used cars.
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The Utah Lemon Law explicitly covers new motor vehicles leased or purchased in Utah, or those registered in Utah by the original consumer. It also covers motor home vehicles. The law doesn’t cover motorcycles, golf carts, or trucks weighing more than 12,000 pounds.
The Utah Lemon Law covers consumers who purchase or lease new motor vehicles for personal, family or household purposes. It also covers businesses that purchase or lease no more than ten new vehicles a year for business purposes other than providing limousine rental services.
The lemon law covers “nonconformities:” a serious safety defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of a new motor vehicle to the consumer. A manufacturer must repair a nonconformity, unless it was caused by abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification or alteration. The law defines “serious safety defect” as a life-threatening defect or malfunction that impedes the consumer’s ability to control or operate the motor vehicle for ordinary use. Any condition that creates a risk of fire or explosion also counts as a “serious safety defect” under the law.
The lemon law mandates that the manufacturer bring any nonconforming vehicle into conformity with its warranty. The law defines “warranty” as the express warranty or any affirmation of fact or promise made by the manufacturer in connection with the sale of a new motor vehicle to a consumer.
Any nonconformity must be reported during the “lemon law rights period.” The period spans two years after the date of the original delivery of the new vehicle to the consumer or the first 24,000 miles of operation after delivery, whichever comes first.
If the consumer reports the nonconformity during this period, the manufacturer must be allowed a “reasonable number of attempts” to fix it. The Utah Lemon Law defines that as one attempt for a serious safety defect that is unsuccessful or three attempts for a non-serious defect that is unsuccessful. It’s also considered an unreasonable repair effort if the vehicle is out of service by reason of repair for nonconformities for a total of 30 days or more.
If the manufacturer cannot fix the problem after the aforementioned reasonable number of attempts, the consumer must notify the manufacturer for a final opportunity to repair the issue. The manufacturer must notify the consumer of a reasonably accessible repair facility within seven days of receiving the consumer’s notice. The manufacturer then has 28 days after receiving the consumer’s notice to fix the problem.
If the final attempt fails or if the car was out of service for 30 days or more, the consumer can request the manufacturer to either replace or repurchase the vehicle. The consumer must send their request by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery. The manufacturer must comply within 20 days of receiving this final request.
A manufacturer repurchasing a vehicle must pay the purchase price of the vehicle, collateral charges such as tax and title charges, and incidental costs. Incidental costs include payments to dealers for attempted repairs of nonconformities, towing charges and costs of obtaining alternative transportation. Manufacturers can subtract a reasonable “offset for use” calculated from the number of miles driven before the consumer first delivered the vehicle to the shop for repair.
Manufacturers replacing a vehicle under the Utah lemon law must give the consumer a new vehicle that is identical or at least equivalent to the vehicle being replaced. The manufacturer must also pay incidental costs just as they would for repurchasing a vehicle.
If the manufacturer in question participates in an “informal dispute resolution mechanism,” i.e. arbitration, the consumer must go through this process first before submitting it to the Utah new motor vehicle arbitration panel. The consumer must exhaust the manufacturer’s chosen arbitration mechanism and the Utah new motor vehicle arbitration panel before taking legal action in the courts.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
By pursuing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Utah 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 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.
Ross said clients who either win in court or settle out of court can use awarded money however they like.
Clients who financed their vehicle must continue making their monthly auto loan payments throughout their lemon law claim’s duration. Falling behind on payments or defaulting on their auto loan can adversely affect their claim. Luckily, those clients who either prevail in court or settle out of it can use their funds to pay off the loan, freeing them from that burden and letting them seek a new vehicle – hopefully one lacking the repeating, unfixable problems that made their last vehicle a lemon.
Clients who paid their vehicle off or purchased it outright by the time their lemon law claim resolves could use their funds to purchase a new, functioning vehicle. Whether that’s financing a brand-new vehicle or purchasing a used or otherwise less expensive vehicle outright, that’s up to the client. It’s their money to use however they choose.
The Utah lemon law explicitly does not cover used vehicles, whether those vehicles are purchased, leased or transferred. The lemon laws in most states only apply to new vehicles, or vehicles still covered by the manufacturer’s original express warranty. Most used vehicles are resold long after these warranties expire.
No matter if you prevail in court or your vehicle’s manufacturer settles, whatever funds you’re awarded are yours to use however you like. You must act quickly however, as statutes of limitation can curtail your lemon law claim before it truly begins. Don’t wait; contact the offices of Allen Stewart P.C. today and speak with a lemon law attorney. Get back on the road and get the justice you deserve.
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