Understanding Vermont Lemon Law
The Vermont lemon law covers consumers who purchase or lease vehicles still under the manufacturer’s warranty, and anyone to whom the vehicle is transferred within its warranty period. The law further covers any other person entitled by the warranty’s terms to enforce its obligations.
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Vermont’s lemon law covers vehicles purchased, leased, or registered in the state. The lemon law does not cover tractors, motorized highway building equipment, road-making appliances, snowmobiles, motorcycles, the domicile portions of recreational vehicles, or trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating over 12,000 pounds.
The Vermont lemon law does not cover any government entity, or any business or commercial enterprise that registers or leases three or more motor vehicles.
Vermont’s lemon law covers “nonconformities,” defined as any defect or condition covered under warranty that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle to the consumer. Problems caused by the consumer’s abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modification or alteration are not covered by the Vermont lemon law.
The lemon law requires manufacturers to repair any nonconformity reported by the consumer within the warranty term. The manufacturer must affect the necessary repairs even if those repairs take place after the warranty expires.
Vermont’s lemon law compels manufacturers to repurchase or replace a vehicle if they are unable to correct a nonconformity after a “reasonable number of repair attempts.” The lemon law defines that as three or more times for the same problem without success, or if the vehicle is in the shop for 30 calendar days or more without successfully repairing the problem.
Consumers must keep written evidence of repair orders issued by the manufacturer or its authorized agent. The repair attempts must be undertaken by the same agent or authorized dealer unless the consumer shows good cause for taking the vehicle to a different agent or authorized dealer.
After the presumption of a reasonable number of repair attempts is met, the consumer must notify the manufacturer in writing of the nonconformity and their claim for replacement or repurchase. The notice must be on a form prescribed by the Arbitration Board provided by the manufacturer at the time of the vehicle’s original delivery.
Within the written notice, the consumer will elect to use either the dispute resolution mechanism established by the manufacturer or the state arbitration board. Arbitration must be held within 45 days after the manufacturer’s or dispute resolution mechanism’s receipt of the written notice, unless the consumer or manufacturer has good cause for an extension of time not to exceed 30 days. Receipt is defined as when supporting documentation from the consumer is complete. Within the 45 day period, the manufacturer shall have a final opportunity to correct and repair the nonconformity. Any right to a final repair attempt is waived if the manufacturer does not complete it at least five days prior to a hearing.
The Vermont lemon law requires manufacturers to pay the full purchase price when repurchasing a vehicle. The manufacturer must also pay all finance charges, registration fees and incidental and consequential damages. The manufacturer may withhold a reasonable allowance for the consumer’s use of the vehicle, calculated from the number of miles prior to the first repair attempt.
The lemon law requires manufacturers replacing a nonconforming vehicle to be a new vehicle from the same manufacturer of comparable worth, with all options and accessories and with adjustments for any model year differences. The reasonable allowance for use does not apply to replacement vehicles.
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 civil action in court. By filing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Vermont 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 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. 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 those who successfully pursue claims to a positive resolution can use the money they receive for anything they like. That can include buying a new vehicle, paying off their last vehicle, or anything else they deem important.
Clients who financed their vehicle must continue making their monthly payments over the course of their lemon law claim, regardless of whether or not they are still driving it(or even if it isn’t drivable). Failing to make those payments can harm your lemon law claim.
Conversely, clients who’ve already paid their lemon vehicle off or bought their vehicle outright can use their funds as a down payment on a new vehicle. They could also choose to use those funds to buy a used vehicle slightly less expensive than a brand new one. The funds belong to the client to use however they choose.
The Vermont lemon law only covers used vehicles if the first repair occurred while the manufacturer’s original express warranty is still in effect. Vermont, like most states, only extends lemon law protections to vehicles still under their manufacturer’s warranty. Since most used vehicles are resold long after that warranty expires, used car consumers aren’t protected. Everyone’s specific situation is different, so you should content a qualified lemon law attorney and discuss your options.
Your money is yours to use however you choose, whether you prevail in court or settle outside of it. However, statutes of limitation determine how long you have to file a claim, so don’t wait: contact Allen Stewart P.C. today. Our lemon law attorneys have combined decades of experience fighting for clients like you. Let us help you get back on the road.
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