Texas Lemon Law for Vehicles
Buying a new vehicle is always a mixture of excitement and worry. It’s great to get that new vehicle, but it’s also a big investment, and you want everything to be perfect. We’ve all heard the stories of the ‘Friday afternoon’ car, the one that has constant faults and you can never rely on. They are rare though, and for most of us a vehicle purchase is everything we wanted it to be.
But what happens if you do get a problem vehicle? Many people don’t know, but the Texas Lemon Law is a comprehensive set of regulations designed specifically to deal with this situation and protect consumers. Lemon Law in Texas applies to defective new automobiles and trucks and other vehicles and products including motorcycles, RV’s, boats, computers and other consumer appliances and products. It is there to support any consumer who has ongoing issues with a defective vehicle. It doesn’t cover used automobiles. The statute allows anyone who purchases a Lemon vehicle in Texas to obtain a replacement vehicle or full refund for the purchase price, along with possible reimbursement for finance charges and other expenses incurred due to the vehicle, such as breakdown recovery and so on.
If you didn’t know about the Texas Lemon Law, this all will sound great, but as with most things, to take advantage of the Lemon Law in Texas, you need to know when it applies, how you file a complaint and what you can expect from the process. We want you to understand the right way to approach the Texas Lemon Law, and avoid making frustrating, and even costly, mistakes.
The requirements for your vehicle to qualify under the Texas Lemon Law
If you get a problem with your new vehicle it can be incredibly frustrating, but that doesn’t mean you can run out and file for a new car or a refund, not all problems are covered by the Lemon Law in Texas. There is a reason for this, vehicles have problems, even new ones, if just a single small fault was enough to provide a refund, there would be very few manufacturers left.
Under the Lemon Law in Texas, a manufacturer can get up to four repair attempts for non-safety hazard problems before your car may be able to be declared a lemon. These requirements are outlined below.
What makes a Lemon Car in Texas?
Texas law presumes that a reasonable number of attempts have been made to fix a problem and conform a vehicle to an express warranty if:
- The same nonconformity continues to exist after four or more attempts by the vehicle manufacturer, distributor, or franchised dealers to repair the defect.
- Two of those repair attempts were made within 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, following the date the consumer received the vehicle;
- The two other repair attempts were made within 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, after the date of the second repair effort; or
- The vehicle is out of service for repair for a total of 30 days or more within the first two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first, and at least two efforts were made to fix the problem within the first year/12,000 miles following the date the vehicle was delivered to the consumer.
If, however, the problem is considered a “serious safety hazard,” only two repair attempts – at least one before 12 months/12,000 miles and the second within 12 months/12,000 miles of the first attempt – must be made to be considered “reasonable.”
Proving the Texas Lemon Law Applies
As mentioned earlier, just because there is a problem with a new vehicle, it is not automatically classified as a lemon. The dealer or manufacturer must have attempted to fix the issue four or more times, once if it is an issue that puts the occupants in danger, or if it has been off the road for more than 30 days. Proving this is important, and this is where documentation comes in.
Take notes of everything
The best way to prove the vehicle is a lemon is to keep records of everything that takes place. This includes
- Dates, Names and Content of all phone conversations with the dealer and manufacturer.
- Make sure all service records are complete, insist the dealer includes any conversations in their notes to avoid later problems.
Don’t ignore servicing recommendations
Even if it seems that there is nothing that can be done, keep taking the vehicle to the dealer. The more times it is in for service, the more records, the easier it is to show that the Lemon Law in Texas is applicable. Unless your attorney says otherwise, keep the servicing going.
Follow the Warranty
All manufacturers are different, but you must read the warranty and make sure you follow the procedures it lays out for you. That generally means only using authorized service centers. Taking the vehicle to a third-party will in most cases void the warranty.
Remedies from the Texas Lemon law
Even if your lemon meets the preceding requirements, you will likely still need to file a complaint and go through the formal process before you’ll receive any of the Texas Lemon Law remedies. If your complaint is successfully heard, the manufacturer will be required to provide on of the following remedies:
- Buy back your vehicle for the full purchase price (this includes any costs associated with taxes, title and licensing)
- Replace the defective vehicle with a comparable vehicle
- Fix the defect and reimburse you for any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred relating to the defect
- Reimburse you for incidental costs if the manufacturer is required to buy back or replace your vehicle
Filing a claim on the Lemon Law in Texas
In Texas, you must file a Lemon Law complaint within six months following whichever is earliest of the following:
- Express warranty term expiration
- 24 months
- 24,000 miles following the date of vehicle’s delivery
In other words, the filing period is determined by which of the above events comes first. To be safe, file your complaint as soon as you realize the dealer is having problems repairing the vehicle.
Even if you have gone past the time limit allowed for a repurchase, the Motor Vehicle Board may still be able to help you get repairs under your vehicle warranty.
Dealing with the legal complications, the potential issues of arbitration and being faced with expensive legal teams representing the manufacturer, there are many ways to fail to acquire your just remedies even with a proven lemon vehicle. It is therefore recommended you hire a lawyer to contest the Texas Lemon Law.