Contents

Q:

What kinds of problems are covered by the new Lemon Law?

A:

The Lemon Law protects a consumer whose motor vehicle has a non-conformity that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the new motor vehicle to the consumer. Significantly, the law measures the defect or condition from the point of view of the individual consumer, not the manufacturer or dealer. Clearly, an engine, transmission, brake or steering defect may meet this level of impairment. Additionally, a persistent intermittent defect, such as a water leak, noxious odor, or paint problem, etc., may also be a defect or condition entitling the consumer to relief under the Lemon Law.

Q:

How do I know if I have a “lemon” covered by the Lemon Law?

A:

A vehicle may be presumed to be a “Lemon” if:

  1. The new motor vehicle has been subject to repair of a non-conformity a total of 3 or more times for substantially the same problem within 1 year or 18,000 miles of the original delivery date, and the problem still exists or recurs, or,
  2. The new motor vehicle is out of service because of repairs for a total of 30 or more days during the first year, or,
  3. The vehicle is subject to eight or more repairs for any non-conformity.
  4. The vehicle is subject to one non-conformity that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury and the non-conformity continues to exist or recurs.

Q:

Is there an absolute time limit to bring an action for a Lemon law case in Ohio?

A:

Yes. Any action must be brought within 5 years of the date of original delivery of the vehicle. This means that a lawsuit must be started or the case resolved within this period. The 5 year period may be extended for the amount of days that a complaint is pending within a qualified informal dispute resolution program.

Q:

Does the buyer or lessee have the option of requesting a refund or replacement vehicle?

A:

Yes. The buyer or lessee has the right to demand a refund or may choose to accept a comparable replacement motor vehicle currently in production. If a lessee agrees to accept a replacement vehicle, the lease agreement cannot be changed, except to substitute the vehicle identification number.

Q:

If the manufacturer offers a replacement vehicle, can I demand a refund instead?

A:

Yes. As the buyer or lessee, you have the right to demand a refund or you may choose to accept a comparable replacement motor vehicle currently in production. If you are leasing the vehicle, and agree to accept a replacement vehicle, the lease agreement cannot be changed, except to substitute the vehicle identification number.

Q:

If I want a refund, what is included in the purchase or lease price?

A:

The “purchase price” of the vehicle is the actual vehicle sales price listed on the buyer’s order including any cash payment, trade-in allowance, sales tax, license and registration fees and other government charges. The “lease price” means the actual sales price paid by the lessor and includes the same additions as the “purchase price.” Excluded are debts from other transactions as well as customer discounts, rebates and incentives.

The “full purchase price” of the vehicle is:

  1. In the case of a sale, the contract price for the motor vehicle,including charges for transportation, undercoating, dealer-installed options and accessories, dealer services, dealer preparation, and delivery charges; all finance, credit insurance, warranty, and service contract charges incurred by the consumer; and all sales tax, license and registration fees, and other government charges.
  2. In the case of a lease, the capitalized cost reduction, security deposit, taxes, title fees, all monthly lease payments, the residual value of the vehicle, and all finance, credit insurance, warranty, and service contract charges incurred by the consumer.

Q:

Can the manufacturer deduct an amount for the use of the vehicle prior to its return?

A:

No. The Ohio Lemon Law does not have a provision for a usage deduction.

Q:

Under the Lemon Law, do I have a right to return my vehicle within three days of purchase?

A:

No. The remedies provided by the Lemon Law, which include the right to return your vehicle and receive a refund of the purchase or lease price, are not triggered until the vehicle is subjected to a reasonable number of repairs.

Q:

Must the buyer or lessee resort to the manufacturer’s arbitration procedure before filing a claim in the court system to pursue Lemon Law remedies?

A:

No, unless the manufacturer’s mediation procedure conforms to Federal Trade Commission regulations and the manufacturer expressly requires the consumer to resort to the mediation process, there are other requirements on the manufacturer. Many manufacturers’ mediation procedures do not meet the requirements of the Federal Trade Commission regulations.

Q:

If the Lemon Law does not apply, are there other laws that might help a buyer or lessee?

A:

The Lemon Law is only one law protecting buyers and lessees. Consumers may also pursue claims under the Ohio Consumer Protection Act, Ohio Uniform Commercial Code, Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and other contract remedies. For more information, consumers may contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.

Q:

Can the manufacturer or dealer cause consumers to waive their rights under the Lemon Law using a special clause in a contract?

A:

No. Any contract clause which seeks to waive a consumer’s rights under the Lemon Law is void.

Q:

Is there a time period within which the initial attempted repair must occur?

A:

Yes. The buyer or lessee must have the repairs, for the same defect, within the first year or 18,000 miles from the original delivery date. Alternatively, the vehicle must be out of service for repair for 30 or more days during the term of the manufacturer’s express warranty or within 1 year of delivery, whichever is earlier. A third possibility is that the vehicle is subject to eight repairs for any non-conformity within the first year or 18,000 miles from the original delivery date. Finally, if during the first year or 18,000 miles from the original delivery date, the vehicle is subject to one repair for a non-conformity that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury and the non-conformity continues to exist or recurs.

Q:

My vehicle still isn’t fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts, how do I get a refund or replacement?

A:

You must give the manufacturer one last opportunity to repair the vehicle by giving the manufacturer written notice, by return receipt service, of the need to repair the vehicle.  Notice can be given at any time after the third attempt to repair the same defect or condition or at any time after the vehicle has been out of service for at least 25 days in a repair facility.After receiving notice, the manufacturer must notify you as soon as reasonably possible of a reasonably accessible repair facility to take your vehicle to have it repaired.  After delivery of the vehicle to the designated repair facility, the manufacturer has five business days to repair the vehicle.  If the vehicle is not repaired within five business days, you may receive a comparable replacement vehicle or a refund of the purchase or lease price.

If a manufacturer has established or participates in an informal dispute settlement procedure, the Lemon Law does not apply to any consumer who has not first resorted to such procedure, if the procedure does all of the following:

  • Complies with the Magnuson-Moss warranty – federal trade commission improvement act, Public Law 93-637, 88 Stat. 2183, and 16 C.F.R. 703 (1975);
  • Requires that the manufacturer to be bound by a decision that the consumer agrees to;
  • Provides that the consumer is not obligated to accept the decision and may pursue the remedies provided by the Lemon Law; and
  • Requires the manufacturer to begin the process of implementing any final settlement not more than 30 days after the settlement has been reached.

Q:

After my last chance letter, how long does the manufacturer have to repair my vehicle?

A:

After you take the vehicle to the designated repair facility, the manufacturer has 5 business days to repair the defect or condition.

Q:

What is considered the purchase or lease price for purposes of a refund under the Lemon Law?

A:

The purchase price or lease price includes the cost of any options or other modifications installed or made by or for the manufacturer, and the amount of all other charges made by or for the manufacturer, less a reasonable allowance for your use of the vehicle and an amount equal to any appraised damage that is not attributable to normal use or to the defect or condition.

Further, the manufacturer must reimburse you for towing costs and reasonable costs for a comparable rental vehicle that were incurred as a direct result of the defect or condition.

Q:

Should I retain an attorney?

A:

Definitely. Attorney Ron Weiss has substantially greater negotiation power and can achieve better results. He has worked successfully in the consumer field for more than a decade and has developed extensive legal knowledge. Futhermore, he has contacts within the manufacturers.

As an added bonus, if Ron can’t collect anything for you, then he is not entitled to a fee.

Q:

If the buyer decides to bring a lawsuit against the manufacturer and wins in court, can attorney fees also be recovered?

A:

Yes. The law authorizes the court to award reasonable attorney fees to a buyer who wins in court.

Q:

What is the first step to obtaining recovery under the Lemon Law?

A:

In order to recover under the Lemon Law you must report the problem to the manufacturer or its authorized dealer within the term of the warranty or one year from the date of delivery to the original purchaser, whichever comes first. After receiving timely notice of the problem, the manufacturer or its authorized dealer must repair the problem even if the repair cannot be performed until after the expiration of the manufacturer’s express warranty.

Q:

If I go through mediation, is the decision binding on me?

A:

No. The manufacturer is bound by the decision, but the consumer is not. Some manufacturers are trying to force binding arbitration and it is very important to know which applies. Call our office to discuss this issue if it applies.

Q:

Does the buyer or lessee have the option of requesting a refund or replacement vehicle?

A:

Yes. The buyer or lessee has the right to demand a refund or may choose to accept a comparable replacement motor vehicle currently in production. If a lessee agrees to accept a replacement vehicle, the lease agreement cannot be changed, except to substitute the vehicle identification number.

Q:

What if the problem I reported to the manufacturer or its authorized dealer continues to persist?

A:

You may be able to obtain a refund of the purchase or lease price or a comparable replacement vehicle if the problem persists after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

Q:

What is considered a reasonable number of repair attempts?

A:

It is presumed that a reasonable number of repair attempts have been taken if one of the following occurs:

  1. The same defect or condition continues to exist even though the car has been subjected to repair a total of four or more times within two years of the date of the first attempt to repair the defect or condition.
  2. The vehicle is out of service because of repairs for a total of 30 or more days or parts of days during the term of the manufacturer’s express warranty or within one year from the date of delivery to the original consumer, whichever comes first.  This option does not require the same problem to be the cause of the days out of service.

Q:

Okay, I think I have a defective motor vehicle. How do I start the process?

A:

The first thing a consumer should do is contact my office before contacting any manufacturer. Prior to instituting litigation, a customer must give the manufacturer notice of the defect or condition by sending what is commonly called a “last chance letter” to the manufacturer by “return receipt service.” The last chance letter should be sent after the third repair attempt or after the 25th repair day. It is important to contact my office before sending this letter as every case varies.

Q:

If it looks like I qualify for the Lemon Law, what documents does Mr. Weiss need to review?

A:

  • Purchase agreement, Retail Installment Sales Contract or Lease Agreement
  • Memorandum Title or Title (if purchased)
  • Application for Title (RD108)
  • Registration
  • Repair invoices