To protect consumers from purchasing defective vehicles, Virginia enacted the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act in 1984. Otherwise known as the lemon law, the act protects consumers from unfair vehicle warranties, and manufacturers are held accountable for the products they sell. Motor vehicles generally qualify under the act if they have documented problems that occur during the first 18 months after delivery of the new vehicle to the first owner or lessee. Your lawsuit has to be filed within 18 months of the purchase of your new car, unless you arbitrate with the Better Business Bureau, which extends the time to file suit by one year. It is important to note, however, that the lemon law only covers certain types of vehicles.
Motor Vehicles Covered by Virginia’s Lemon Law
The following new motor vehicles are eligible for protection under the terms of Virginia’s lemon law:
- Passenger cars that are designed and used primarily for the transportation of no more than 10 persons, including the driver of the vehicle.
- Pickup or a panel trucks designed for the transportation of property with a registered gross weight of 7,500 pounds or less.
- Motorcycles, mopeds, or the self-propelled motorized chassis of a motor home (not the motor home as a whole).
- Leased vehicles that were accompanied by a warranty.
- Used vehicles whose warranty has not been in effect for over 18 months from the date the warranty first went into effect with the first owner.
If your automobile qualifies for the Virginia lemon law, you are entitled to certain specific protections. The vehicle’s manufacturer may need to make the car or truck conform to the warranty that is in place. If it cannot be fixed within a reasonable period of time, you may be entitled to a replacement vehicle or a refund of the purchase price and legal fees. It is important to act quickly, however, as strict time limitations apply to claims under the lemon law.