When you purchase or lease a new car or truck you have
the right to recieve the piece of mind and convenience
of a vehicle that performs without serious mechanical
problems or repeated repairs. If your new vehicle is not
performing up to these standards, you have a number of
options under state and federal law. We hope the following
information will help you resolve any problems you might
Michigan law provides that the manufacturer of a new
vehicle must repair your vehicle under warranty within
a "reasonable time." A "reasonable time"
is four times for the same problem or thirty
days in the shop for the same or different problems
that occur during the first year of ownership.
Q. What if the first repair occurs under warranty,
but the problem continues to exist after the warranty
A. As long as the problem and the first repair attempt
occur during the first year of ownership, all repairs
for the same problem count toward the four times, even
if the subsequent repairs take place after the first year
or after the warranty expires.
Q. What if the vehicle spends 30 days in the shop,
but not all at once and not all for the same problem?
A. Each day or part of a day that the vehicle spends
in the shop during the first year of ownership counts
toward the 30 day limit. For example, the vehicle could
spend 7 days in the shop for a transmission problem, 3
days for an engine problem, 1 day for an electrical problem,
4 days for brake problems, 5 days for air conditioning
or heating problems, and 10 days for miscellaneous drive
ability problems (e.g., running rough, stalling, hesitation,
etc.) Since the total time equals 30 days, the vehicle
qualifies as a "lemon."
Q. What do I need to do to protect my rights under
the "Lemon Law"?
A. Once your vehicle has required repairs three times
for the same thing, or has accumulated 25 days in the
shop, you need to send a letter, by certified mail, to
the manufacturer advising them of the problems and that
you want to give them their "last chance" to
repair the vehicle under MCLA 257.1403(3) (the Lemon Law).
The law requires that the manufacturer give you the proper
address in your owner's manual or warranty booklet that
comes with the vehicle. The manufacturer must then notify
you within a reasonable time of a repair facility that
is "reasonably accessible" where you must take
the vehicle. After you deliver the vehicle to the designated
repair facility, they have five business days to fix your
vehicle. If the problems are not fixed within five days,
or the problems occur again, then you have a right to
a refund or replacement of the vehicle.
Q. Do I need a lawyer to enforce my rights under the
A. Not always. You can write and send the "last
chance" letter yourself. If you have questions about
the proper wording of the letter, or how to send certified
mail, you can call our office and we will provide a telephone
consultation at no charge. You should keep your original
records, sending only copies through the mail. You should
also keep a copy of every letter that you send.
Q. What if the "last chance" repair doesn't
work and the dealer and manufacturer refuse to give me
a refund or replacement vehicle?
A. The Lemon Law provides that if you have to hire a
lawyer in order to enforce your rights, you may recover
costs and attorney fees as part of your damages. In order
to protect the right to recover costs and attorney fees,
you may first need to go through the manufacturer's "alternative
dispute resolution" process (arbitration). Information
on this process should be in your owner's manual or warranty
booklet that came with the vehicle. Some examples of arbitration
programs are the Better Business Bureau, Chrysler Customer
Satisfaction Board, Auto Cap, and the Ford Consumer Appeals
Board. This arbitration result is NOT binding on you,
but it IS binding on the manufacturer. Thus, if you are
satisfied with the result, you can accept the award and
the manufacturer MUST abide by it. On the other hand,
if you are not satisfied, you can reject and pursue your
remedies in court. If you have questions about arbitration
proceedings, please feel free to call us for a free telephone
Q. What can I get if I have to go to Court?
A. If your vehicle is a "lemon" under the law,
you are entitled to a refund or a comparable replacement
vehicle. A refund under the Lemon Law includes your purchase
price, taxes, and the price of manufacturer's options
installed by the dealer, less an offset for your use of
the vehicle. The offset is limited to 10¢ per mile
at the time of your first complaint or 10% of the purchase
price, whichever is less. You are also entitled to recover
your costs and attorney fees from the manufacturer if
you win your case.
Michigan's "Lemon Law" is only one of many
other consumer-oriented laws. State laws include the Uniform
Commercial Code, the Consumer Protection Act, the Motor
Vehicle Service and Repair Act, and the Motor Vehicle
Finance Act. There is also a federal law called the Magnuson-Moss
Warranty Act. Under these additional laws, there is protection
for people who lease rather than purchase their vehicles.
These laws also cover a broader range of problems than
the Lemon Law, such as a serious mechanical failure that
occurs only once or takes less than 30 days to repair,
fraud or misrepresentation, damaged vehicles sold as "new,"
and odometer rollbacks. As with the Lemon Law, these laws
also provide for recovery of costs and attorney fees if
you win your case.