Purchasing a vehicle should be a good day, particularly if said vehicle is new off the lot at a dealership. However, the sad fact is that roughly 150,000 vehicles purchased new each year are considered lemons – or vehicles that have significant, potentially life-threatening defects that cannot be fixed despite multiple attempts, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Vehicle buyers in Texas can find protection from financial loss in these situations through the Texas Lemon Law.
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles administers the Texas Lemon Law, which is a state law intended to help vehicle buyers who either buy or lease a new motor vehicle and struggle to get issues repaired under the original warranty issued by the manufacturer.
There are situations where a used vehicle also may be covered by the Texas Lemon Law, which we will address below.
Utilizing the Texas Lemon Law can usually allow the vehicle owner to get the vehicle replaced, repaired or repurchased without a lengthy fight in court. At this point, one may wonder if the Lemon Law can be applied to the purchase of other products, which turn out to be defective or dangerous. Unfortunately, no this law does not extend to other products that are manufactured and then sold to Texas residents. However, there are other laws that may apply to those products, depending on what they are and the danger they may pose to the consumer.
Officials with the Texas DMV assist car buyers who either buy or lease a new motor vehicle and run into repeated problems getting that vehicle repaired with coverage under the manufacturer’s original warranty.
The Texas Lemon Law covers most vehicles that travel roadways intended for the general public, i.e.: cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and motor homes, which are purchased new from a dealer.
The law does not cover farm equipment, boats or repossessed vehicles. Also, it does not cover minor issues like radio static or rattles that annoy but don’t detract from the market value of the vehicle.
It is important to note here that used vehicles are also covered under state laws if the used vehicle is still covered under the original warranty from the manufacturer. Also, if the defect was reported to the dealer while under the warranty and continues to be an issue, that vehicle may be covered under the Texas Lemon Law.
Criteria to meet the Lemon Law
Dealing with a vehicle that does not run as expected can be frustrating. However, there are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify for help resolving the problem under the Lemon Law.
First, the vehicle must have a substantial manufacturing defect, which is covered under the manufacturer’s written warranty. Next, the defect has to be reported to the dealer or manufacturer within the term of the warranty. The owner must provide the dealer a reasonable number of attempts to resolve the issue by repairing the defect, and the owner must give the manufacturer written notice of the defect and at least one opportunity to help resolve the problem. Preferably, the written notice is sent by certified mail. If the owner of the vehicle has tried these avenues and the defect persists, creating a serious safety hazard and impairing the vehicle’s use or market value, the issue falls under the Texas Lemon Law.
Some people ask what qualifies as a “reasonable” number of attempts by the dealer. Below are several tests that can help answer that question. For those who pass one of the tests below, the number of “reasonable” attempts has been permitted.
There are certain tests that can be used to determine if the dealer has been given a “reasonable” number of tries to assist the vehicle owner with resolving a serious defect with your vehicle.
The first is the Four-times test, where the vehicle has been taken to the dealership four times within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles (whichever comes first) for the SAME defect, and the issue is not resolved.
The next test is the serious safety-hazard test, where the malfunction or defect is life-threatening and “substantially impedes” your ability to control or operate the vehicle on a normal basis. Also, if it creates a substantial risk of fire or explosion, it passes this test. If this issue has not been resolved after taking the vehicle for repair twice in the first 24 months or 24,000 miles, it passes this test for lemon law purposes.
The 30-day test is the final test, which is if your vehicle has been out of service for a total of 30 days or more – and this does not have to be a consecutive period – during the first 24 months or 24,000 miles. If this occurred and no loaner vehicle was provided, and the defect still is unresolved, this passes the test by lemon law standards.
It is important to point out that a Lemon Law complaint must be filed within six months of the expiration of the express warranty term, 24 months after purchase or 24,000 miles from the date of delivery of the vehicle – whichever comes FIRST of those three.
Types of Relief:
The three R’s of relief for the Texas Lemon Law include refund, replacement or repair.
In the event the case goes in your favor, the department can order one of the above three processes to occur.
In the event you have a used vehicle that is covered by the Lemon Law, refund and replacement are not options for consideration. In that instance, only repair is a viable option.
In case of refund, the manufacturer is required to purchase the vehicle from the owner for the purchase price. This includes taxes, title and license fee. However, an amount can be charged for vehicle use, which will be deducted from the purchase price. This factors in both the number of miles on the vehicle at the time the hearing is held and other factors. Interest paid on the vehicle is not factored into this formula.
There are specific formulas for lease-repurchase, Lemon Law repurchase and TRV repurchase.
In the event of replacement, the manufacturer is required to replace the vehicle in question with another, typically the same make, model and accessories, that is acceptable to the consumer. The consumer is responsible for any vehicle upgrades, and the mileage used is factored into the look for the replacement model.
In a case where repair is the procedure chosen, the manufacturer is responsible for fixing the vehicle’s defects. The owner may receive a reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses that should have been covered under warranty but were paid by the owner.
In conclusion, the answer to this question is Yes. The Texas Lemon Law specifically refers to vehicles. However, for those who have an issue with another product purchased in the state of Texas, there are product liability laws that may be helpful. Those laws cover three specific scenarios: where the user is endangered by the design of a product, the company fails to warn the user of a potential danger while using said product or it can be proven that the product has a manufacturing defect that puts the user in danger or causes injury.