If you bought or leased a new car in the state of Florida and have had nothing but complaints about various defects it has during the new vehicle warranty period, you may have some protection afforded you under the Florida Lemon Law.
What is the Florida Lemon Law?
In 1988, the Florida legislature revised a law that makes automotive manufacturers responsible for either replacing consumers’ defective vehicles or refunding money to consumers. This law, the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, commonly referred to as the Florida Lemon Law, established arbitration boards throughout the state to hear and settle complaints between car manufacturers and the owners of the lemon cars.
The Florida Lemon Law applies to new or demonstrator (demo) vehicles purchased or long-term leased in the state of Florida for personal use, and vehicles with manufacturing defect or non-conformity which substantially impairs its value, use or safety.
To qualify for the Florida Lemon Law or under the federal lemon law (the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act), you must, in general, have a product that suffered multiple repair attempts under the manufacturer’s factory warranty. Under the Florida Lemon Law, you may be entitled to compensation in the form of a refund, vehicle replacement, or cash compensation.
How the Florida Lemon Law Works
The defects must first be reported to the manufacturer or its authorized service agent, the dealer, within the first 24 months after the date you take delivery of the vehicle. If the manufacturer fails to conform the vehicle to the warranty after a reasonable number of attempts, the Florida Lemon Law requires the manufacturer to refund your purchase price or to offer you a replacement vehicle. The Florida Lemon Law does cover defects caused by an accident, modification, neglect, abuse or alteration by anyone other than the manufacturer or its dealer.
It is important that you keep records for all maintenance and repairs to your vehicle. For each repair, obtain a written repair order from the dealer for each repair conducted under warranty. Also keep all receipts or invoices for payment of expenses related to the purchase or lease of the vehicle and to any repair.
If your vehicle has been back to the dealer for repair of the same problem three or more times, you must, under Florida Lemon Law, notify the manufacturer by certified, registered or express mail and allow the manufacturer a final opportunity to repair the vehicle. After the manufacturer receives your written notification, it has 10 days to direct you to a reasonably accessible repair facility, and 10 days from delivery of the vehicle to fix it.
If your vehicle is in and out of the authorized dealer for repair of one or more different problems for 15 or more cumulative days, you, as the consumer, must give written notification to the manufacturer of this issue by certified, registered or express mail. After receipt of your notification, the manufacturer or the dealer must have at least one opportunity to inspect or fix your vehicle. You may be eligible for a purchase price refund or a replacement vehicle if your vehicle is out of service for repair of one or more defects for a cumulative total of 30 or more days.
If the manufacturer does not provide you with a refund of your purchase price or a replacement vehicle, you may choose one or two arbitration programs. For more specifics on arbitration programs under the Florida Lemon Law, see information provided by the Florida Office of the Attorney General.
Note that this is intended as general information about the Florida Lemon Law and is not legal advice.