Being an auto owner means handling the maintenance and any unexpected issues with your vehicle. However, the general expectation is that a recently purchased vehicle will be safe to drive and reliable for some time. Particularly if the vehicle is new off a dealer’s lot, the ability to rely on the vehicle as a daily driver is widely accepted.
A lemon law attorney has your back if your vehicle doesn’t run as expected. For vehicle owners in Texas, there are several options for filing a complaint when your vehicle has an obvious issue.
Not only can you pursue some reimbursement through the legal system, but there are methods of pursuing some resolution for the problem through online complaints.
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has a Motor Vehicle Dealer Online Complaint System. In order to file a complaint, you need to have a copy of the sales contract with the dealer and any other relevant documents that show there is an issue with the vehicle you purchased.
There are various types of complaints: general motor vehicle, advertising motor vehicle, declaration/monthly reports and lemon law.
The reporter for these complaints can be the consumer, the insurance company, a legislative source, anonymous, tax authority, or law enforcement.
A disclaimer for the general motor vehicle complaint states “If your complaint is about a dealer’s sales, you should complete the Motor Vehicle General Complaint Form. If we find evidence of a violation of the laws we enforce we may initiate administrative action in the name of the DMV against the person or entity. Please be advised that any civil penalty collected by the DMV is by law credited to a specified state fund. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles cannot pursue a private claim for damages on your behalf. You may have a civil claim(s) against the dealer or person that are separate and apart from our administrative action. We encourage you to seek private legal counsel to assist you in determining your rights, time limits to file civil claims, and other options in this matter.”
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked auto fraud questions, click here.
For the motor vehicle advertising, the advertisement you are referencing should be attached. For the lemon law complaint, a $35 fee is required. In order to file the most complete complaint, the sales contract, any repair orders, extended service agreement and/or lease agreement (if applicable) and any other relevant documents are required for the complaint to be filed.
An auto fraud lawyer has experience in filing these complaints and handling these cases from the original filing until the case is resolved. The Texas DMV has experienced staff that oversee the case as it moves through the lemon law department, for example. However, for the auto owner, it is wise to have your own representation in an experienced auto fraud lawyer.
The staff of an auto fraud or lemon law lawyer, particularly one with a history of success in lemon law cases, has the experience in gathering documents and evidence that you need to increase your odds of a successful resolution.
They understand the various aspects of an auto fraud case and aren’t afraid to take on the auto dealers who sell lemon vehicles.
For a lemon law attorney, the first step is making sure your vehicle is new and fits one of the following categories: car, truck, suv, RV, Towable Recreational Vehicle (TRV), motorcycle, or electric vehicle.
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Once that is established, they will ask you if the vehicle showed a significant defect – one that puts your life at risk when operating the vehicle – during the first 24 months of ownership or the first 24,000 miles driven -whichever would come first.
Next, they would determine that the vehicle was purchased in the state of Texas, and that the vehicle has been taken in for four or more repair attempts – all of which must be documented. It is important to note here that the documentation for repair attempts must clearly show that the same issue was the reason for the repair visit. The documentation can’t show different concerns. Therefore, for a significant defect that decreases the value of your vehicle and your safety while operating it, always be sure to describe the problem the same way each time you take it in for repairs.
If you manage to accomplish this it resolves the need for the vehicle to go in for four or more repair attempts (all unsuccessful) to show it is a lemon by Texas state law standards. It is also important to notify the dealer/manufacturer at some point during this stage, in order to give them the opportunity to help you get the issue repaired in a timely manner. (The best method to do this is through certified mail or another way where attempts to reach out are documented, even if you don’t receive a response.)
Also, it is important that the vehicle defect means it sits idle for 30 days (or more) during the time you own it. These days do not have to be consecutive, but they have to fall during the first 24 months or 24,000 miles driven – and no loaner vehicles can be provided by the dealer or service department. Any days where a loaner vehicle was provided do not count toward the total.
If the vehicle fits all of these criteria, then it means you are eligible to make a lemon law complaint through the Texas DMV. If you do this, discuss the process and expectations with your auto fraud lawyer. They can guide you in what to expect.
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For example, the first step is mediation, and during that time the auto dealer will attempt to convince you to settle for a deal. They will try to talk you into this, and typically the deal will be in their favor and not in yours. Having legal professionals to guide you through the process can escalate it to a full hearing in front of an examiner. It can also ensure you get the best reimbursement for the stress of a defective vehicle, the time lost at work or driving places on your own, and the hassle of the entire experience.
In the event the complaint moves to a hearing and the examiner finds in your favor, you could receive a replacement vehicle, get help in getting the defect repaired once and for all, or you could see the dealer be required to repurchase the defective vehicle from you. Keep in mind, however, that this decision does not involve your input. Typically, this decision is made by the examiner who finds the hearing in your favor.
However, this is good news. You will have the issue resolved and be able to find a reliable vehicle and purchase it (provided the option chosen isn’t to repair the vehicle in question).
People who have defective vehicles want to take the path of least resistance (and the smallest hit to their bank account). However, working with an auto fraud lawyer can ensure your greater odds of success and make sure that you don’t lose the case by missing an important piece of documentation required by the Texas DMV to process your lemon law complaint effectively. Working with legal representation ensures a greater chance of success.