Discovering your vehicle is not reliable and is actually putting your life at risk can be unsettling at best and downright debilitating at worst. Add in the fact you can’t get to work, get groceries or pick your children up from school, and the issue becomes even more serious.
The good news: Texas has a lemon law. It is overseen by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, and the process provides a fair opportunity for both you and the manufacturer to sort out the issue.
Hiring a lemon law attorney is a good way to ensure the process ends with a favorable result for you. They can provide support staff to help gather documentation and track down necessary information prior to filing and also throughout the process of handling a lemon law case.
A lemon law attorney also brings experience to the table. They can share what to expect at each step in the process and help you avoid mistakes like taking an offer from the manufacturer that is not in your best interest.
What Happens When I Win the Lemon Law Case?
You received word from the overseer for your lemon law case, and they found in your favor. You’re excited, nervous, and relieved. Now what?
Well, the examiner provided two important pieces of information in their decision: who the case was decided in favor of and also the resolution to the case.
They can determine if your vehicle is replaced with one of equal value, repurchased for monetary compensation or repaired to a satisfactory resolution of the ongoing defect.
Keep in mind: when they consider the value of the vehicle and also the monetary compensation to be provided, they consider the miles driven and any payments made, as well as funds put into repair attempts that were unsuccessful.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law attorney criteria questions, click here.
The examiner decides which of the three options is the best for your specific scenario and lets both you and the manufacturer know the next step.
This may or may not be good news to you. However, that is how the process works. While the resolution of the case can be appealed if either party finds it unsatisfactory, this aspect of the decision is not up for appeal.
Take heart in the fact the manufacturer is on the hook for the replacement or final repair of the vehicle. You won. Even if it didn’t end exactly as you hoped, you still no longer have a lawn ornament – you have a reliable vehicle that can be trusted for all the drives you want or need to take.
Navigating the Texas Lemon Law
Let’s back up a step – or several. Do you have a vehicle that qualifies as a lemon under the Texas lemon law? If the vehicle was purchased within the state of Texas, then it has one mark in the column for a Texas lemon. Those in the military who are stationed in Texas are covered under the law, even if their vehicle was purchased elsewhere.
Here are a few other factors to consider.
Image Source : https://pxhere.com/en/photo/2530/
Let’s start with a key factor: what type of vehicle do you currently own or make payments on? Is it a car, truck, motorcycle, electric vehicle, RV, TRV, minivan or SUV? If the answer is yes AND you recently purchased this vehicle from a dealer or manufacturer with an original warranty in place, then you have a vehicle that is one step closer to eligible as a lemon.
Now we look at the time frame since you purchased the vehicle. The vehicle must have been purchased in the last 24 months or 24,000 miles (or within the last 30 months but you notified the manufacturer of the ongoing defect during those 30 months or prior to the day the vehicle was driven 24,000 miles).
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.
So yes, you need to let the dealer and/or manufacturer know the defect exists with your vehicle and you have had to take it in for the same repair more than once (we discuss HOW MANY times below).
This may seem complex or confusing. That is why this is a prime situation to consult with a lemon law attorney. They can help you navigate the details and get the case in front of the right people in a timely manner.
Now, we progress to see if your vehicle fits all the criteria of a lemon under the Texas lemon law.
Let’s look at the defect. Is the defect so significant that it puts your life at risk to drive the vehicle? Does it significantly decrease the value of the vehicle? If you said yes to both, we are on the right track.
The four (or more) repair attempts test
As it says, you must have made four or more unsuccessful attempts to address the defect with no success. It helps to describe the defect the same way during each visit to the service department, to cut down on potential confusion and remove any support for a claim that you have not taken it in for the SAME repair each time.
Note: Another important part of this test, as mentioned above, is to let the manufacturer know (certified mail is a good method) that the defect exists and repair attempts thus far are unsuccessful.
The 30-Day Test
The next test is how many days this defect has led to a great inconvenience for you. That inconvenience? Not having a vehicle to drive.
Think you have a lemon, click here to fill out a 30 second form.
If your vehicle has sat idle for 30 days or more – and these do not have to be consecutive – and you were not given a loaner vehicle to drive in the interim, then your vehicle qualifies under this test as a lemon.
Here we are, the end of the tests for eligibility. Is your vehicle a lemon under these tests? If it is, the best next step is to reach out to a lemon law attorney.
However, if you aren’t going that way, it is important to gather all documentation of repair attempts, days the vehicle has sat idle, and the attempt to notify the manufacturer of the ongoing issue with the vehicle. It would help to have your original warranty handy as well.
Once these documents are gathered, you can submit a complaint via the Texas DMV’s website. There is an initial fee. Once you have completed this step, the file is given to the special department within the Texas DMV who handles these cases. They look over the evidence and schedule a mediation. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the case advances to a hearing before the examiner we talked about earlier. They hear both sides and then have 60 days to provide a written decision.
Appeals are permitted by both sides following that decision. Otherwise, the case is considered closed and, if it was found in your favor as we discussed above, the manufacturer has to schedule a time and the appropriate measures to be enacted.
So be grateful you live in Texas and can take your case to an experienced department that can help you address such a significant problem. You won’t be stuck with a vehicle that won’t run or isn’t safe to drive. You won’t be forced to find another means of transportation because the one you are supposed to be able to rely on isn’t trustworthy.