Ron Weiss Aug. 19, 2018

What does it take for a vehicle to be a Lemon in Ohio?

I’ve helped thousands of consumers since 1993. People often say their vehicles are Lemons, but those vehicles may not be Lemons under the Ohio Lemon Law. Obviously, we equate lemons as being sour and it makes sense that people consider defective products to be Lemons. So what does it take for a vehicle to be considered a Lemon under the Ohio Lemon Law?

First, what we refer to as the Lemon Law is actually called the Nonconforming New Motor Vehicle Law. I’m going to refer to it as the Lemon Law throughout this post, but now you know the formal name. If you feel your car has issues that might meet the law, I would definitely encourage you to consult with an attorney that is familiar with the law. Even claims for cars that are close to meeting the law may be worth pursuing.

If you want to arm yourself with a little information, begin with the rule which can be found starting at Ohio Revised Code § 1345.71. There are several aspects to the law and the rule explains those aspects. The Lemon Law covers so much ground and this post is not intended to cover everything. I just want to provide you with enough good information to point you in the right direction.

There are a lot of terms that are defined at the beginning of the rule. We need to know who a “Consumer” is and the law explains that. For purposes of the Lemon Law, we are generally looking at people who purchase or lease a motor vehicle. So the Lemon Law does not apply to people that sell or lease the motor vehicle to others. Any person who is entitled to enforce the warranty is also likely considered to be a consumer. The law goes into more detail, but this covers the most common types of calls that I get. One really nice part of the Ohio Lemon Law, which isn’t true of many other states, is that it broadly defines motor vehicles to include motorcycles, recreational vehicles and other items. If you have a question about your particular item, take a look at Ohio Revised Code § 4501.01.

Next, we need a nonconformity which means a defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of a motor vehicle to the consumer. There is a lot more to it than this, but this is the next place to look. The consumer would need to first report the defect to the manufacturer or the dealer within the earlier of 1 year from the original delivery of the vehicle or 18,000 miles of use. This is where it starts to get tricky. So many people call about older cars with high miles. So they are probably out of the requirements of the Lemon Law, but they may very well be covered by another law that acts in a similar way. My practice tends to stay away from older used vehicles, but even those cases may have different avenues to pursue.

Now we know who is covered and what type of vehicles are covered. Now we need to know how many repairs it takes for the vehicle to qualify. These repairs have to occur during the earlier of the first year or 18,000 miles. The Lemon Law creates a presumption that a vehicle may qualify if it is subjected to 3 or more repairs for substantially the same nonconformity. Alternatively, a vehicle can meet the Lemon Law if it is subjected to 30 or more repair days. Also, a vehicle may qualify if it is subject to at least 8 attempts to repair any nonconformity or at least one attempt to repair a nonconformity that is likely to cause death or serious injury. There are notice requirements that come into play here.

I need to mention that a great part of the Lemon Law is that the manufacturer must pay attorney fees for successful claims. So when I open files, I don’t have to ask my client to pay me, the manufacturer has to take my fee into account in any resolution.

The law explains your recourse if you meet the above. Also, as I’ve stated above, there is so much more to the law, this post is intended just to give you a starting point. Also, if your car is outside the technical requirements, there are several other laws that could help you. I carefully weigh the details of every case in determining whether I feel that I can help.

By far, the majority of my Ohio Lemon Law calls involve motor vehicles have been subject to at least 3 repair attempts for the same issue or at least 30 repair days. If you think you have a lemon, I’d encourage you to call me. I hope this post helps you to understand the highlights of the law.