In 1987, Ohio legislatures passed the Ohio Lemon Law, one of the most comprehensive lemon laws in the United States. Consumers are afforded protection under both the Ohio Lemon Law and the federal lemon law (Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) which provides for compensation to Ohio customers for defective automobiles, trucks and other motor vehicles.

In order to qualify under the Ohio Lemon Law, a consumer must generally have a product that has suffered multiple repair attempts during the manufacturer’s factory warranty. Ohio Lemon Law requires auto manufacturers to repair defects that affect a vehicle’s safety, value or use within the first 12 months after new vehicle purchase or lease or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. Relative to used vehicles, the Ohio Lemon Law does not apply to motor vehicles more than one year old or that have been driven more than 18,000 miles.

If you have any problems with your new purchased or leased vehicle, you should immediately take it to an authorized dealer for repair. The dealer must be given a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem but if the issue is not corrected to your satisfaction after multiple attempts, you may qualify for a refund of your purchase price or a replacement vehicle under the Ohio Lemon Law.

What constitutes a “reasonable” amount of time? If you have taken your vehicle back to the dealer three or more times to have the same problem repaired, that counts as reasonable. In addition, if you’ve had the vehicle in for dealer repair 30 days or more during the first year or 18,000 miles, you may have a claim under the Ohio Lemon Law. Eight or more attempts to fix different problems that affect the vehicles safety, value or use or one unsuccessful attempt by the dealer to repair a problem that could cause death or serious injury are also factors that may qualify you for a refund of your purchase price or vehicle replacement under the Ohio Lemon Law.

If these conditions exist, send a certified letter to the manufacturer listing the problems you’ve had with your car and what attempts have been made to correct them. In the letter, also state whether you are looking for a refund of the purchase price or a replacement vehicle to resolve the matter.

The manufacturer will most likely request an additional opportunity to repair your vehicle or to negotiate a mutually satisfactory resolution with you. If this does not resolve the issue, you may be advised by the manufacturer about going into an arbitration program to informally resolve disputes. Arbitration is faster and less formal than a court proceeding and all automakers participate in some kind of an arbitration program.

If the automaker does not have an arbitration program approved by the Ohio Attorney General, or you are unhappy with the outcome of the arbitration, you may wish to file a civil suit to recover the total cost of the vehicle and your attorney’s fees.

Protect Yourself

To protect yourself from the possibility of buying a lemon, make sure to keep good records, especially of your vehicle’s maintenance history. Keep all warranty and repairs orders. These should have all your issues itemized and detailing the repair cost and the length of time your car is at the dealer for repairs. In addition, write down all your vehicle’s problems and defects. File your repair orders according to the date the repairs were done. Finally, read and understand your vehicle owner’s manual and follow all manufacturer’s recommendations for scheduled maintenance.

Note that this is general information relative to the Ohio Lemon Law and is not intended as legal advice.

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