If you are having repeated problems getting your new vehicle repaired, as long as you purchased or leased it from a licensed Texas dealer or lease company, you may be able to get help under the Texas Lemon Law to get your vehicle repurchased, replaced or repaired.
How does the Texas Lemon Law work? Here’s a brief overview.
- Eligibility – Cars, trucks, motorcycles, motor homes and ATVs are covered, as well as demonstrator vehicles that develop problems covered by a manufacturer’s written warranty. Towable recreational vehicles are eligible if they are titled and registered in Texas.
- Used vehicles – The Texas Lemon Law MAY cover your used vehicle if it is still covered by the manufacturer’s written warranty (not an extended service contract), or if the problem started when the vehicle was still under the manufacturer’s warranty and it continues to exist. If so, repair assistance of the warranty-related problem may be available to you.
- How long to file a complaint – Under the Texas Lemon Law, a complaint must be filed within six months of the earlier of: the expiration of the manufacturer’s original warranty, 24 months, or 24,000 miles following the date of delivery of the vehicle.
- Process to follow – First, if your dealer is not able to correct the problems with your vehicle, despite repeated attempts to fix it, you should send a written letter to the manufacturer by certified mail. Check the owner’s manual or your warranty book for the contact name and address for the manufacturer’s regional office. In the letter, describe the condition of your vehicle and offer the manufacturer the opportunity to fix the problem. You can even tell the manufacturer the next time your vehicle will be back at the dealership, to expedite the process.
- Keep copies of all documents and correspondence – This goes without saying, but we’ll repeat it anyway. Keep copies of your correspondence to and from the manufacturer, all documents (repair orders, invoices, and receipts) from the dealer, and make notes of all your phone calls to the various entities. If you do decide to file a complaint under the Texas Lemon Law, you will need to provide copies of all your documentation to substantiate your claim.
- If you do file a complaint – If you are requesting repurchase of your vehicle or a replacement vehicle, and you are filing a complaint, you will need to pay a nonrefundable $35 filing fee to the Texas Department of Transportation. If you win at a hearing, your fee will be refunded to you by the manufacturer. If you only want your vehicle repaired, no fee is required.
- Resolution process – Under the Texas Lemon Law, after you file your complaint, the Texas Department of Transportation will contact the manufacturer and dealer and work to resolve your complaint. If your vehicle is satisfactorily repaired, your complaint is resolved. If it is not, the state DOT may send a technical expert to meet with you and representatives from the manufacturer and the dealer to attempt to resolve your complaint. In most cases, this results in a resolution, within 30 to 60 days after you’ve filed your complaint under Texas Lemon Law.
- Hearing – If your situation is not resolved at this point, you can have a Lemon Law hearing. This is your opportunity to prove your vehicle is a lemon, and you must present your own testimony or that of a witness. You’ll also need to present letters, repair orders or other documents to prove to the administrative law judge that your vehicle is a lemon. This process is similar to presenting a case before small-claims court. Since preparation for a hearing is important, be prepared to put in the time to do your homework. A hearing is not as formal as a trial, but there are many steps involved.
For more complete information, including publications, sample form letter to the vehicle manufacturer, and to download a Texas Lemon Law complaint form, go to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles site.