No, you absolutely should not try to make repairs to your vehicle before filing a lemon law claim.
In most cases, this rule applies if you have a vehicle that is covered under a manufacturer’s warranty. Many of these warranties stipulate that if you get any work done on the car by a non-manufacturer-approved service center or repair shop, it will void the warranty. Never allow anyone—even yourself—to work on the vehicle unless they work for the manufacturer or one of their authorized dealers.
What Is A Reasonable Allowance For Use And Mileage Of My Vehicle?
A “reasonable allowance for use and mileage” of a vehicle refers to the deduction that a manufacturer is entitled by law to take off of any refund that they give you. Different states have different formulas for calculating this deduction, which figure into the formulas for calculating total lemon law damages.
In Georgia, for instance, the formula takes the miles on the vehicle at the date of the first repair, then divides it by 120,000 and multiplies it by the purchase price. The results in the total sum of your damages. In other states, the mileage from the date of first repair might be multiplied by 100,000 or a different number.
In cases where you are offered a refund or a replacement and opt for a replacement, the question of mileage deduction is handled differently in different states. Some states, such as Georgia and Indiana, will not allow manufacturers to take a mileage deduction off of a replacement. In those states, mileage deductions can only be taken off of refunds. In other states, mileage deductions can be taken off of refunds or replacements.
Generally, though, when it comes to damages awarded to you in a lemon law case, a mileage deduction is taken off based on the formula that your state uses.
How Do I Find The Best Attorney To Handle My Lemon Law Claim?
When it comes to pursuing lemon law claims, you definitely want an attorney who specializes in those claims and in that area of law specifically. This is a highly specialized, specific area of law that would be very difficult for the average general practitioner attorney to pick up if they have never done a lemon law case before.
The procedures involved with filing a claim under lemon laws involve all kinds of potential pitfalls if the attorney you choose does not have the requisite experience. It would be very easy for a generalist attorney—even a good generalist attorney—to miss something like the details of notice requirements in this sort of case.
For this reason, I believe anyone looking for an attorney to help them file and pursue a lemon law claim should seek out a lemon law specialist—and specifically, a specialist who is well versed and experienced in the lemon laws in your specific state.
Ideally, you want to find a lemon law attorney with extensive experience, who has handled thousands of these cases. As previously mentioned, this sort of attorney will be well-acquainted with the lemon laws and procedures in your state. In addition, they will have the marked advantage of having pre-existing relationships with numerous car manufacturers (and their legal departments).
Is My Car Still Protected Under Lemon Laws If The Warranty Has Expired?
In some cases, it is possible for your car to be protected under lemon laws after the warranty expires. This is because in most cases, the time limit on your state’s lemon laws will not be the same as the time limit on your car’s warranty.
Most manufacturer’s warranties on vehicles last for 3 years or 36,000 miles—whichever comes first. A person may be past the 36,000-mile limit on the warranty but still be within the time parameters to file a lemon law claim in their state. In the majority of states, you would still be able to pursue a lemon law claim even if you are outside the manufacturer’s warranty.
A similar question concerns what happens if you are outside the time parameters (or statute of limitations) to file a lemon law claim in your state. If you do not file a lemon law claim within the statute of limitations for said type of claim in your state, you cannot file a lemon law claim on a state level. However, there is another option available through federal law.
It should certainly be noted here that this is not a federal lemon law. There is no such thing as a federal lemon law, as auto lemons are an issue that the states have jurisdiction over.
There is, however, a federal warranty law called the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. This Act applies to any consumer product—including vehicles. It allows the consumer to make a claim for breach of warranty in the event that a car presents a significant issue and the manufacturer is not able to repair the issue within a reasonable number of repair attempts (and/or a reasonable amount of time).
What the state law considers a “reasonable amount of time” is not specified in federal law as it is in state law. In most states, lemon laws dictate that a “reasonable amount of time” means 30 days in the shop. Federal law doesn’t have any single set guideline, but does state the standard of “reasonable.”
So, what does a reasonable amount of time mean in this context within federal law? Ultimately, the definition of a “reasonable” amount of time depends on what you can convince the judge, jury, or mediator that it means. This means that picking a solid attorney is even more important, since so much comes down to their ability to make this sort of argument on your behalf.
Generally, though, the standard of 30 days is more or less reliable. If a car has been in the shop for over 30 days and the defect still hasn’t been repaired, then it is pretty straightforward to argue that this constitutes an “unreasonable” amount of time. We often pursue claims under the federal warranty law using 30 days as a baseline for a “reasonable amount of time.”
There are differences in potential outcomes between cases pursued through state-level lemon laws and cases pursued through federal warranty laws. One major difference is that federal warranty law cases do not allow for refund or replacement options, as state-level lemon laws do. Instead, these federal cases can only yield money damages, which are calculated based on the diminished value, the loss of use, and the money you put into the car.
So, to summarize, if a client comes to me with a good case that we can’t pursue with state-level lemon laws because the statute of limitations has lapsed, I may still be able to pursue their claim under the federal Magnusson Moss Warranty Act. All hope is not lost.
For more information on Vehicle Repairs Made Under Lemon Law, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (844) 88-LEMON today.