Ronald S. Weiss Jan. 29, 2020

How does the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act work with the Michigan Lemon Law or the Ohio Lemon Law?

The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act is a federal statute. 

It applies to consumer products that are normally used for personal, family or household purposes when these products come with a warranty (express or implied).  There are many provisions of the Act that are well beyond the scope of this article. 

For purposes of this article, I will refer to the Lemon Law of each state simply as the Lemon Law, without distinction between Michigan and Ohio.  I handle cases in both Ohio and Michigan and the laws are different in each state, yet as it relates to the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, they are pretty similar.  The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act ties into state law definitions, so there are differences, but those differences are beyond the scope of this article. 

Are new cars consumer products?

Most new cars are used for personal, family and household purposes, so they would fall under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act.  Used cars can also fall within the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, but this article is not considering the issues related to them.  New cars certainly come with both written and implied warranties.  The Act also covers many products that are not vehicles, but here, we are considering how the act works with the Lemon Law and the Lemon Law deals with vehicles.  So cars, among other consumer goods, can be covered by the Act. 

How does a consumer product come within the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act?

If a product has a defect or malfunction that has been subjected to reasonable attempts to remedy that defect or malfunction, then the Act may help.  This is a significant part of the Act that differs from the Lemon Law.  In the Lemon Law, there is a specific definition of the number of repair attempts that must occur before your vehicle.  If your car falls short of that specific number, then, technically, the Lemon Law would not help, at least until your vehicle is subject to the requisite number of repairs.  Under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, you simply need the product to be subjected to reasonable attempts, without a specific number.  That gives more flexibility to the federal Act in this regard.

Can I apply both the Lemon Law and the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act at the same time?

Yes, both laws can work together to help support a claim.  The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act clearly states that it does not limit your rights under state law.  In fact, under the federal statute, you can pursue your claim using either federal or state law.  You need to be careful to seek legal advice as there are specific rules as to when you must submit to informal dispute procedures, but those topics are very case specific and beyond the purpose of this article.

What might I be entitled to under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act?

In addition to other potential damages, you might be entitled to a refund or replacement of your product.  A key component to the Act is that it also requires the warrantor of the product to pay attorney fees that were reasonably incurred in pursuing successful claims.  As a result of powerful provisions requiring attorney fees, I am able to handle cases without asking my clients for money. 

I hope this helps and, as always, if you are the owner/lessee of a new car that has experienced warranty repairs and you have specific questions about your situation, please call my office.