Of all the things we buy in life, few are more exciting than a new car. From choosing the make and model that fits your family needs through to finding the right color, it’s a journey that results in something very personal to you. You don’t expect to deal with the Florida Lemon Law when at the dealership. When you do finally collect that new vehicle, it is the beginning of an adventure. For most new vehicles, this is exactly how it goes, and you have a reliable, effective vehicle as you would expect. However, in some rare occasions, you can end up with a vehicle that has persistent problems, making it too unreliable to use as your daily transport. This is when the FL Lemon Law comes into play. Often called the ‘Friday car’, what happens if you are unfortunate enough to end up with one?
No matter how rare they are, these kinds of vehicles are a real problem if you happen to be the one that buys it. Few of us are in a position to just leave an expensive vehicle in the shop indefinitely, but what can you do? The good news is that there is a piece of legislation known as the Florida lemon law that is designed to help in this situation and protect consumers. It covers both leased and purchased vehicles that are new and registered in Florida. The lemon law in Florida excludes trucks over 10,000ilbs weight, motorcycles and mopeds, vehicles designed specifically for off-road use and the living quarters of motor homes and RVs, covering only the chassis and motor.
As with any legislation, the process for making a claim can be complex, and getting it wrong can be a costly mistake. Here, we offer guidance on understanding when the Florida lemon law applies, and the best approach to make sure your claim is a successful one.
Not every problem means a vehicle is a lemon, and if we think about it this is a good thing. Because ultimately, a successful lemon claim means a replacement vehicle or full refund, if it applied to every fault however minor, most dealerships would be bankrupt by now, and manufacturers too. Sensible legislation protects consumers, but also ensures that the industry can continue to produce the vehicles we need, and the Florida lemon law is no different.
To achieve this, a vehicle needs to have more than a fault, it must pass a threshold defined in the legislation that proves the problem is persistent and affects the reliability of the vehicle for its intended use. That doesn’t mean other, more minor problems are not important. In fact, having the Florida lemon law in place is an incentive for dealers and manufacturers to fix any issue quickly for you.
In order for your vehicle to be considered a lemon car in Florida, one or more of the following conditions should be met within the first 24 months of the lease or ownership of the vehicle:
It is crucial for your FL lemon law claim that your warranty remains intact throughout the process. This will usually mean only authorized dealers or agents can carry out repairs to the vehicle, and so you must avoid temptation to try an alternative even if your vehicle problem is not being solved.
In addition, the service schedule is usually integral to the warranty validity. You must maintain the recommended service schedule the manufacturer lays out to have a successful lemon law claim. It can be tempting to just ignore servicing if your vehicle is having a lot of problems, however no matter what, if a service is due have it carried out until the Florida lemon law claim is complete.
As a legal framework, the FL lemon law is not legislation that you can simply say applies and that is that. To successfully claim, you will have to prove that there is an ongoing fault or faults, and that the vehicle has indeed been subject to at least three repair attempts unsuccessfully, or spent a total of more than thirty days in the shop being worked on.
That means keeping records of all interactions with your dealer and manufacturer throughout the situation. Of course, at the beginning, you won’t know it will become an issue of the FL lemon law, so it is good practice for anyone who buys or leases a vehicle to keep detailed, accurate records of every aspect of their vehicle.
With these records to hand, you have all the proof needed for your claim under the FL lemon law .
The lemon law in Florida includes legislation that lays out remedies available for consumers after a successful claim. In this case, the consumer is able to choose from two remedy options:
You get to choose which you prefer, ensuring that you enjoy the best outcome possible from a successful claim.
Because manufacturers will robustly defend themselves against any Florida lemon law claim, and the process itself is complex, it is recommended that you seek legal representation for your claim. Not only an experienced attorney gives you a better chance of success, but in most cases the manufacturer will cover your legal expenses too.
By using legal representation familiar with the Florida lemon law, you will have the right guidance and support throughout, reducing stress and ensuring your case is presented in the most effective way.