Consumers who go car shopping in the state of Texas should be aware of their rights, the expectations that go with reporting a lemon vehicle, and the potential outcome for them if they go through the process and the case is found in their favour.
First and foremost, be prepared before you head to the dealer’s lot. Check for recalls and potential issues with the vehicle you have in mind. Next, make sure you purchase a vehicle that has a warranty included and is not sold “as is.”
More than 150,000 lemon vehicles are sold in the United States each year. That means that Texas residents are bound to end up with some of them.
If you happen to be one of those unlucky Texas residents, there are options for you to find resolution to this challenging situation. The first step is to consult a lemon law attorney. They have the experience to help guide you through the various and sometimes complicated steps in a lemon law complaint, and they have the support staff to help you track down any relevant information and documents for the case.
Once you reach out to that lemon law professional, they will let you know there are different tests to determine if your vehicle’s defect will help classify it as a lemon under Texas law.
The first test is the serious defect test. Does the defect put your life at risk if you drive the vehicle? Does it significantly decrease the value of the vehicle if you were to pursue resale? If the answer to these two questions is both yes – then you are on the right track.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law attorney questions, click here.
Next is the 30 days test. Has your vehicle sat idle for 30 days or more since you purchased it? These days only count if you do not have a vehicle provided for your use during that period. However, the total is over the time period since you purchased the vehicle, and it does not have to be a consecutive 30-day period.
Finally, the four times test. How many times have you taken the vehicle to a reputable mechanic in hopes of having the defect resolved? If the answer is 4 or more, with documentation, then you have met the criteria for this test as well. It is important to note that you don’t have to have made a payment to the mechanic, only that you have clearly taken the vehicle in for repair of the SAME DEFECT four or more times.
Make sure you let the manufacturer know sometime during this period that you are dealing with a defect that is not easily repaired. They need to be notified and given a reasonable amount of time to help resolve the issue before the lemon law complaint process is initiated. However, the timeframe of a reasonable amount of time is not clearly outlined.
Once you have considered all of the above criteria, it is time to begin the complaint process. The complaint can be filed through the Texas DMV website, if you have the funds available to pay for the filing online.
Once the complaint is filed, staff are assigned to the case. Mediation is scheduled next, and the two parties are encouraged to come to a resolution. A lemon law attorney can help make sure you don’t settle for a deal from the manufacturer if you are entitled to more based on the issues with your vehicle.
If mediation is not successful, then an examiner is assigned and a hearing date is set. At that hearing, both sides are permitted to tell their story. The examiner has 60 days to return a written decision. If they find in favor of you as the auto buyer, they choose one of the three options (repair, replacement or repurchase) for the resolution of the issue.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.
If that happens, the good news is you get reimbursed for payments made and expenses related to the unsuccessful repair attempts. In addition, you either get the vehicle in question repaired or replaced or you get the vehicle taken off your hands with monetary compensation.
This is important to know, because you may be struggling with the situation and assume you will end up with a rusting metal obstruction somewhere on your property. This is not the case. The vehicle will either be returned to functional status, or you will be given the means to find another comparable vehicle that does run reliably and does not put your life at risk.
Vehicles can be challenging. Some used vehicles are sold with clear signs of vehicle tampering. Since 2021, the good news is that used vehicles that were returned to the manufacturer with a lemon status are designated as such on the title.
However, some manufacturers attempt to circumvent this by sending the vehicles to another state to be sold. So, it pays to pay attention to make sure you aren’t getting a lemon that was already returned in another state and simply transported to Texas to be sold to the next unsuspecting consumer.
Watch for extensive wear on the tires or floor mats that does not match with the total miles driven as indicated on the odometer. Likewise, look for areas that seem to have been painted over – particularly in the engine compartment. This can indicate the vehicle was in an accident.
Ask to see the accident report and retain skepticism if that is not easily available.
Think you have a lemon, click here to fill out a 30 second form.
It is also a good idea to develop a relationship with a good mechanic. Take the vehicle for a test drive and take it to be looked over. They are more likely to catch small indicators the vehicle has been wrecked or will have issues in the near future. They can guide you in whether the issues that could crop up will be a reasonable fix with minimal investment or if the vehicle will be a total loss within the next year. Either way, you need to know the information so you can make the best possible decision.
Purchasing a new vehicle should be a fun experience, as you are trying to find something that fits your sense of style, your budget and your daily lifestyle. The last thing you want is stress and a struggle because that vehicle you picked out turns to have mechanical issues that put your life at risk.
Understand that, even if you do get saddled with a lemon, it is possible to get compensation and get yourself back to a point of satisfaction with your regular transportation. Ask questions and reach out to professional lemon law attorneys. Their help can make the difference between being saddled with this defective vehicle forever and getting a resolution that lands in your favor.