Are you an organized type or a fly by the seat of your pants type? We all have our habits. However, when it comes to your vehicle, maintenance and the records for said maintenance, it pays to be the organized type.
This is because there may come a time when your vehicle has a defect that can’t be fixed. Unfortunately for around 100,000 people each year, that time comes sooner than they would like.
With an average of 100,000 lemon vehicles on the market in any given year, your odds of taking one home the next time you go car shopping are higher than zero. Therefore, now is the time to start getting organized.
Buy a filing cabinet, buy a set of file folders and have one marked for vehicle service. Any report of service, any receipt for payment when said service is completed and any notes from the mechanic should all be saved.
That way, you are prepared if you ever come across a vehicle that is a lemon by Texas standards. So, what signs can you look for that will let you know you have a vehicle in your possession that is a lemon under Texas lemon law?
There are three main tests and a few criteria. First and foremost, your vehicle must be a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, electric car, RV, or TRV. Second, you must have purchased it in the state of Texas, and it must still be covered by its original warranty from the dealer.
Finally, criteria-wise, the vehicle needs to show a significant defect that puts your life at risk and significantly decreases the value of the vehicle within its first 24,000 miles OR the first 24 months you own it.
If all of those criteria fit your troublesome vehicle, then there are tests to pass.
Did you take your vehicle in for repairs – for the SAME defect – four or more times? Do you have documentation to that effect?
Did you let the dealer/manufacturer know sometime during that period of four visits to the mechanic that you were having an issue that was persisting despite multiple efforts to get it repaired?
Hopefully, you said yes to all of the above criteria. Again, hopefully all of that is well documented and can be proven if the case advances to a hearing in front of an examiner who works for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicle’s lemon law department.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon vehicle repair Protect questions, click here.
Did your vehicle sit idle for 30 days or more during the first 24 months you have owned it or during the first 24,000 miles driven?
These days do not have to be consecutive. They simply have to fall within this window of time. They also have to be days where you were not provided an alternative mode of transportation by the dealership or mechanic who was working on the vehicle.
Is this all sounding all too familiar? If you are nodding your head in frustration, then the next step is to gather all of your documentation and prepare for a process.
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Now is also the time to reach out to a lemon law attorney. That attorney and their staff are going to be instrumental in helping you prep for this case and the related steps to find resolution for your defective vehicle.
Your attorney can share previous experiences and help you narrow down potential sticking points in your case. They and their staff can help track down missing documentation and help you prep all the necessary paperwork to file the complaint. Note: This can also be done online.
Mediation – which is the first step after you file the complaint – is also an important point to have an attorney present for. They can help you avoid falling for any nasty tactics employed by the manufacturer to convince you to settle for something other than the compensation you deserve for being saddled with a defective vehicle.
Mediation is the first step. The two parties are brought together in a neutral location to help determine the best next steps in the case. If both sides don’t agree to a resolution, the case is escalated to a hearing in front of an examiner.
Both sides get to tell their story. The examiner then has 60 days to provide a written decision on the case. Both sides have the opportunity to appeal if they are unsatisfied with the ruling.
If you are the car owner and it is found in your favor, you are also informed what option of restitution you will receive. You do not have a chance to give feedback regarding this aspect of the process.
There are three potential Rs for restitution: Repair (which is covered by the manufacturer); Replacement (with a vehicle of comparable value) or Repurchase. For these considerations, the vehicle’s current mileage and condition are considered. However, they do not take into account any aftermarket additions you have made. If you went all in on this vehicle as soon as you got it home, be prepared to take a loss.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law process.
However, it is important to note that you can get some funds returned for payments made on the vehicle and also money spent on the unsuccessful repair attempts. Therefore, it may not be a total loss. And look at the bright side, that vehicle is no longer taking up space in your driveway or on your front lawn while you struggle to find a way to get from Point A to Point B.
So, now you know the ins and outs of the lemon law process. You know it’s a good idea to get a lawyer who is experienced in the process and has an efficient staff that can help you get through this with minimal hassle beyond what you’re already dealing with as the owner of a lemon.
Let’s go back to the maintenance records and why it’s important to keep them. Even if you don’t end up with a lemon, it is a smart move to keep documentation of repair and maintenance because you can sell a vehicle private party and let the other person know the vehicle is well cared for and worth the price tag you place on that vehicle.
You can also be sure that vehicle will last as long as the manufacturers project it will -and it will run smoothly and reliably during that long lifespan. There are a number of reasons to keep records and be careful about your vehicle repairs. However, no matter how we all wish to avoid situations where we end up owning a lemon, the sad truth is that it happens a lot more than anyone thinks. Therefore, it is wise to be prepared for the worst and become the organized type that keeps all records on hand. That way, someday you won’t be at a loss as to what to do next when your vehicle stops operating reliably and becomes a giant pain in your … daily activities.
Be proactive. Be organized. Be aware. Your stress levels and your work life will thank you when you aren’t left hanging with a lemon on your hands