Buying a vehicle is a great opportunity. It provides you a lot of freedom – but it can also bring a significant amount of stress. If you are driving your vehicle and a defect becomes apparent, it means time spent at the dealership service department or your preferred mechanic getting it sorted out and things back to normal.
Sometimes, that defect persists despite repeated repair attempts. If that is the case, the vehicle you are making payments on may be a lemon. In Texas, this means the vehicle must be within the first 24,000 miles driven or 24 months of ownership for you. It also means the defect must be significant – as in putting your life in danger-significant.
If you get to the point where you can count 30 days or more the vehicle has sat idle (with no loaner provided) and you can say you have made four or more attempts to get this particular issue fixed with no success, it is time to start looking into the Texas lemon law.
A buyer’s guide is the form posted in the window of a vehicle – both used and new models – that is for sale on a dealership lot. This form is required to show potential buyers that the car is sold either “As Is” or “Warranty” if it comes with a warranty.
This buyer’s guide is considered part of the contract at the time the vehicle is sold. This is important to recognize because any limitations in the contract are superseded by the buyer’s guide that was posted in the vehicle.
You as a potential buyer should ask to see a buyer’s guide if there is not one clearly visible in the window of the vehicle. Likewise, if the vehicle is being sold in a transaction handled in Spanish, the buyer’s guide must also be written in Spanish.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law attorney questions, click here.
It is important as the auto buyer to get any promises or guarantees in writing. In the event you end up with a lemon, all of this documentation is necessary to produce as part of the complaint process.
Be forewarned – if your buyer’s guide said “As Is” when you bought your car, the Texas lemon law may not be helpful. The law clearly states as a point of requirement that the vehicle must be covered under the original warranty from the dealership.
Find that buyer’s guide. Does it say “Warranty”? If it does, then we can proceed with the Texas lemon law complaint process.
If your vehicle is covered under a warranty, then the Texas lemon law should be able to help with this stressful situation.
Just as a reminder, have you attempted to get the vehicle issue fixed four or more times? Has the vehicle sat idle for 30 days (this doesn’t have to be a solid chunk of time. Instead, the days it sits idle can add up – as long as you weren’t provided a loaner vehicle from the mechanic or dealership during those periods).
Here’s another potential sticking point: Did you reach out to the manufacturer during your efforts to get the issue repaired? Are they aware of the ongoing problem? Did they make any attempt to assist you in having the issue resolved? Were they given a “reasonable” amount of time to make the situation good?
Think you have a lemon, click here to fill out a 30 second form.
Hopefully, your answer to the above is “Yes.” However, if you aren’t sure, here’s another good time to reach out to a lemon law attorney (if you haven’t already done so). They can help you gather evidence and let the manufacturer and/or dealer know the issue exists and your history of repair efforts.
They can also be a great asset when it comes to gathering documentation of those repair attempts and any other necessary steps in your journey to getting a reliable vehicle back in your possession.
The Texas lemon law is overseen by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. They have a special department that takes the complaints (which can be easily submitted online). They have experienced staff they assign to the case. Mediation is the first step, where the parties are given the chance to reach an agreement on their own.
If this is not successful, the next step is a hearing where an examiner hears from both sides. They take the information they are provided and have to return a written decision within 60 days. That decision can be appealed if either party finds it unsatisfactory.
In the event they find in the manufacturer’s favor, you are stuck with a faulty vehicle and will need to discuss future options with your Texas lemon law attorney. However, if they find in your favor, there are three options for resolution. The examiner chooses one of the three to resolve your case.
The first step is repair. The manufacturer is required to help resolve the issue and make sure your vehicle is reliable and safe to drive. The next option is repurchase. The manufacturer is required to repay you for the vehicle based on payments made, with consideration for the miles driven. Meanwhile, that payment amount does not factor in any aftermarket work you have had done. So, keep that in mind.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.
The third option is replacement with a vehicle of comparable value. This vehicle must be comparable in miles driven and value. However, this value also does not take into account the aftermarket parts or work that you have spent money to have added/completed.
This is not the worst news in the world. However, it can be tough to swallow if you had your vehicle set up the way you wanted it and now will be starting over with a new vehicle (whether you have to purchase that or have it provided to you by the manufacturer).
No matter how it turns out, remember that you did your best. Do your research before your next vehicle purchase. Narrow down the make and model you feel might be best for your needs and look into recalls and potential issues that have been reported with that vehicle. If you are looking into used vehicles, be sure to research different years of that particular make and model -as they can have different issues arise.
Your preparedness will be a big factor in avoiding the purchase of a lemon vehicle in the future. It is also important to know your rights in Texas and the best way to move forward with a complaint related to the Texas lemon law. Discuss your options with a lemon law attorney and let them guide you. They have experience with nuance and potential roadblocks for a case like this. That can be helpful in smoothing the way to your satisfactory resolution of the case and a better way to move forward with your transportation needs.