Florida Lemon Law

The Florida Lemon Law for Vehicles

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.

What qualifies a vehicle for the lemon law in Florida?

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.

The Florida lemon law requirements

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:

  • At least three attempts were made to repair on specific defect by the dealer or manufacturer
  • The vehicle has been out of service for at least30 non-consecutive days due to repair attempts by the dealer or manufacturer

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.

Proving your vehicle is a lemon car in Florida

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.

This includes:

  • All phone calls regarding the vehicle. This should include dates, name of the person you talked to and what the call was about, any promises made.
  • All written correspondence, including service bills, repair confirmations and so on.
  • Make sure that your dealer includes any conversations in their service notes regarding ongoing issues.

With these records to hand, you have all the proof needed for your claim under the FL lemon law .

Remedies from the Florida 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:

  • The manufacturer shall accept the return of the vehicle and refund the amounts paid for the purchase or lease of the vehicle
  • The manufacturer will provide a replacement vehicle of comparable value.

You get to choose which you prefer, ensuring that you enjoy the best outcome possible from a successful claim.

Filing a claim under the lemon law in Florida

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.

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