Buying a used vehicle comes with some concerns. You have to do your research on the vehicle model to see if there are issues that crop up with that year. You have to know a good mechanic, so you can take it for an inspection to make sure it is in good condition and won’t need something significant fixed as soon as you take ownership. These are only a couple of ways you can prepare yourself before you hand over a significant amount of money or sign up for a monthly payment on a vehicle that is going to end up costing you significantly more in time and money and potentially hassle.
One reassurance for some people are the warranties offered on used vehicles. If the warranty is still covering the vehicle from the original dealership, then there might be additional good news: a used vehicle covered by the original warranty from the dealership is covered under the Texas Lemon Law as well.
The key to this determination is the warranty coverage. If the used vehicle is purchased as is from a used car dealer, then it is not covered by the Texas Lemon Law. That is when it is key to do your research and know any potential issues with the model year. It is also smart to take a look for various visible abnormalities or key indications of a vehicle that is not performing as it should. That way, you can reduce the risk of being saddled with a lemon vehicle.
The Lemon Law does not cover used vehicles that are well past the expiration of the warranties issued at the time of its original sale off the lot or from the manufacturer.
Therefore, these vehicles require a bit more care before you make the investment and commit to purchase.
The Texas Lemon Law does cover vehicles that are purchased from the dealership and manufacturer. It covers cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, motorcycles and RVs, as well as towable recreational vehicles. Electric vehicles are also covered under the Texas Lemon Law, provided they are covered by warranties and fit the criteria as listed below.
The law does not cover boats, trailers or farm equipment.
For those who do have a vehicle on their hands that is purchased new from a dealership or manufacturer and that is covered by warranties, the coverage period is the first 24 months after purchase or within the first 24,000 miles driven (whichever occurs first).
If a defect crops up that is not covered by a recall from the manufacturer and is a detriment to the value of the vehicle, then it is time to start considering the protection offered by the Texas Lemon Law.
If the vehicle’s defect puts the driver and/or passengers at risk, that is another criteria met for coverage under the Texas Lemon Law.
The law is administered by the Texas Department of Transportation. There is a Texas Lemon Law administrative sector within the Texas DMV that handles the complaints filed, schedules mediation and also assigns an examiner and schedules a hearing if the process moves beyond mediation.
The complaint can be filed online (cost is $35) and someone will begin considering the evidence presented in the complaint. Prior to filing however, there are more areas to cover in the vehicle owner’s responsibility to make sure the Texas Lemon Law covers your vehicle and the process currently underway to see the defect repaired.
If there is a defect with your vehicle, consider the following:
• The vehicle has been taken to the dealership or mechanic on four or more occasions, all for the same issue, and still has not been fixed adequately.
• The vehicle has sat idle for 30 days or more (these do not have to be consecutive days) within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles driven.
• The vehicle defect significantly decreases the value of the vehicle
• A written notification has been made to the manufacturer of the ongoing issue, and they have been provided an opportunity to help resolve the defect, within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles.
It is also wise to keep all written records of visits to a mechanic and all attempts to communicate with the manufacturer regarding the defect.
Another important note to remember is to describe the defect the same way each time, in order to provide a trackable continued effort to resolve the same problem. If the issue is described to the mechanic in a different way, then it is possible the argument can be made that it is a new problem, rather than a continuation of an unsolved defect.
Once a complaint is filed with the Texas DMV, the case is examined. A mediation is scheduled if the case fits the criteria set by the Texas Lemon Law. Both sides get a chance to reach a resolution through that mediation. If the issue continues with no resolution, a hearing can be filed. An examiner is assigned to the case, and they oversee the hearing. Both sides are provided the opportunity to provide an argument regarding their side of the issue.
The examiner then has 60 days to provide a written decision.
There is an opportunity to appeal the decision for either side, if they are unsatisfied.
If the case is found in favor of the automobile owner, then there are three potential solutions, one of which is chosen by the examiner as deemed the best fit for the situation.
The vehicle can be repurchased by the manufacturer (with consideration given for the miles driven), it can be replaced by a vehicle of comparable value (again, considering the miles driven but not the aftermarket additions/changes made by the owner) or the vehicle can be repaired, with costs covered by the manufacturer.
The previous costs related to repair attempts may also be covered at the determination of the examiner.
If the vehicle has been purchased in Texas, from a manufacturer or dealer and is covered under warranties, it can be eligible for issue resolution under the Texas Lemon Law. It helps to be aware of the various criteria that must be met, the potential outcome and the process.
From there, it becomes a matter of patience as the case works its way through the process, but it is a more timely procedure than a comparable court case might be.
Vehicle owners do not need to feel as if they are stuck with a metal lawn ornament when something goes wrong and a very significant defect is found with a newly purchased vehicle. Instead, it is wise to look into the various ways you can seek help. It helps to reach out to the manufacturer, in case it is an issue that is widespread but simply has not been reported at a high volume as of yet. Also, it is wise to know the various ways a warranty can be helpful and the way the Texas Lemon Law is supportive in the instance the warranty is not going to be helpful in the case at hand.