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The Consumer Law Group, P.C.

Our Experienced Attorneys Answer Your Virginia Lemon Law Questions

Below are some initial questions many clients have when they first contact The Consumer Law Group, P.C.. The questions below can address many initial concerns you may have. If you don't find the answers here, you may contact us for answers to more complex questions or questions specific to your case.

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  • Do I have to participate in manufacturer-sponsored arbitration for my Virginia Lemon Law claim?

    Arbitration and the Lemon Law LawWhen you sign any kind of contract these days, you may be unknowingly agreeing to forced arbitration should there be a dispute down the road. This means that if the financial institution, insurance company, or automaker breaks the contract, you will be required to settle the dispute by participating in arbitration with the company rather than suing them in court. Most car manufacturers have buyers sign such an agreement, but under Virginia law, you are not required to participate.

    Arbitration and the Virginia Lemon Law

    Also known as the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, Virginia’s Lemon Law does not require the use of a moderator or an arbitration proceeding before filing a lawsuit and, in instances when a sales contract does stipulate an informal dispute settlement procedure, the law gives Virginia residents the choice to participate or not.

    Should You Go to Arbitration?

    Using an informal dispute resolution procedure may be an easy way to resolve a problem with an auto manufacturer. The Better Business Bureau (BBB)’s AutoLine program is a neutral, third-party program that may be able to quickly settle your complaint against an automaker. The program acts as a mediator between you and the manufacturer as long as this manufacturer is a participant in it's AutoLine program.  (Before you arbitrate a case make sure your manufacturer is a participant by checking with the BBB.) Once you have registered your complaint with them, they will contact the manufacturer. You may then be contacted by a representative of the manufacturer to discuss a settlement or you may request a BBB representative to speak for you. If your dispute is not settled at this point, you may want to contact a Lemon Law attorney to proceed further. If at any point you are unhappy with the way things are going with the BBB, you may stop the process.  Remember, you must file suit under the Lemon Law within 18 months of delivery of your new car, if you arbitrate with the BBB this deadline is extended by one year from the date of the decision.

    Using AutoLine may be worth a try, however, using an arbitrator provided by the automaker is likely not in your best interest. Their focus will be on getting you to agree to a compromise rather than the full refund you may be entitled to.

    How an Attorney Can Help

    It is important that you are aware of your rights in Virginia. You are under no obligation to participate in arbitration with the automaker if you believe your car meets the requirements of the Lemon Law. To save time and money, contact The Consumer Law Group, P.C.  early in the process. We will guide you in the right direction for the best possible outcome.

     

  • What if a dealer refuses to repair my new car?

    When Dealers Refuse to Repair a CarYour new car should be perfect. After all, you carefully selected the best car you could afford and are working hard to make the payments. So it is a major disappointment when you start to notice that something is wrong. Maybe it shakes at certain speeds or the shifting is clunky. Maybe it is an issue with the onboard technology. Whatever it is, it should not be happening and, luckily, the car is under warranty and the problems should be fixed, right? In most cases, yes. However, there may be times when the dealer refuses to accept your car for repair. What do you do then?

    A Lemon Law Claim Requires Proof of Repair Attempts

    Under Virginia’s Lemon Law, if a problem with a new car cannot be fixed in several repair attempts, you may be entitled to a refund or a new car. However, if a dealer refuses to even attempt a repair, do you still have a Lemon Law claim? Possibly, but you will still need proof.

    When you take the car in for the first time, the dealer will likely agree to evaluate it. Make sure he fills out a repair order and that you get a copy of it. If he returns the car claiming nothing was wrong and you continue to have the problem, take the car back to the dealer. This time, he may refuse to take it. This is where you will need to be assertive. Ask that he fill out a repair order anyway. He can write, “No repair attempted at this time.” Make sure the order has the date on it and the car’s details. You may also take the car to another dealer and document that encounter. These repair orders may provide sufficient evidence of repair attempts should you decide to make a Lemon Law claim.

    Why Would a Dealer Refuse to Repair a Car?

    In some cases, a dealer will not make a repair because it cannot get authorization from the manufacturer. If the manufacturer does not know what is wrong with the car or doesn’t know how to repair it, they may refuse to authorize the repair. Because the manufacturer is ultimately responsible for reimbursing the dealerships for warranty repairs, it is up to them to approve or deny a repair attempt. If a Lemon Law claim is successful, it is the manufacturer who must make amends with the consumer, not the dealership, so dealers often don’t have a problem passing the buck on to them.

    A Lemon Law Attorney May Be Able to Help

    If you have a significant mechanical defect in your new car and are struggling to get adequate service from the dealership, tell us about it by filling out the form on this page. We will get back to you shortly to discuss your Lemon Law options.

     

  • Why should I hire an attorney for my Virginia Lemon Law claim?

    Lemon Law LawyerIf you are experiencing ongoing problems with your new car in Virginia, you may qualify for a full refund or replacement of the vehicle under Virginia’s Lemon Law. As you begin to research how to go about making a claim, you may discover that it appears to be a do-it-yourself process. However, this may not be the approach you want to take.

    What the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Says

    The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will direct you to the Virginia Attorney General to report your complaint. Once there, you have two options:

    • The Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB administers a dispute resolution process to settle Lemon Law claims as an alternative to going to court. The BBB Auto Line Program handles complaints against most vehicle manufacturers, but may or may not be able to get you a satisfactory resolution.

    • The Virginia Attorney General’s Office. If the car company you are dealing with does not work with the BBB, or the BBB cannot successfully resolve your claim, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. However, there is no guarantee that they will be able to get your money back either.

    Your third option is to hire a qualified Virginia Lemon Law attorney to represent you against the auto manufacturer.

    Why Hire an Attorney

    An experienced Lemon Law attorney will save you time and cost you nothing. Rather than submitting a complaint and waiting for a response, our attorneys will let you know in our initial telephone conversation if you have a valid claim and will act quickly and decisively on your behalf. We can accomplish in a few days what it could take you months to accomplish on your own. If your claim is successful, the manufacturer will refund your money or replace your car and pay all of our legal and expert witness fees.

    Depending on your exact situation, you may or may not need an attorney for your Lemon Law claim, but you have nothing to lose by calling us first. We will evaluate your claim and give you an honest assessment. Fill out the form on this page to get started.

     

  • Can I recover economic damages in a Virginia Lemon Law claim?

    Can You Receive Compensation for Hardship Caused by a Lemon Law Car?You depend on your car to get to work and to get to medical appointments, so when your car is not functioning properly, you could not only miss days of work, but your health and welfare could be at risk. If the defective car is new and you have cause for a Lemon Law claim, you may be wondering if you can recover for other losses you suffered as a result of the car not working. Unfortunately, the answer is usually no.

    What You Cannot Recover Under Virginia’s Lemon Law

    Unlike in a personal injury claim, you cannot recover money for other types of damages caused by the loss of your car under a Lemon Law claim. This means that you cannot ask to be compensated for lost wages, missed medical appointments, or general hardship and suffering, even if the defects in your new car were the direct cause of these economic and non-economic damages.

    What You May Be Awarded in a Lemon Law Claim

    However, a successful Lemon Law claim will either replace your car or reimburse you for the total value of the car, plus additional expenses, including the following:

    • Sales tax

    • License fees

    • Registration Fees

    • Title Fees

    • Finance charges and interest

    • Transportation charges

    • Dealer preparation charges

    • Any other charges for service contracts, undercoating, rustproofing, or installed options, not recoverable from a third party

    • An amount for mileage, expenses, and reasonable loss of use necessitated by attempts to conform the motor vehicle to the express warranty

    • Attorney’s fees

    If the manufacturer fails to conform to the decision of an informal dispute settlement procedure and resolution of your claim is delayed, the court may also award enhanced damages of up to three times the value of the claim, plus additional attorney’s fees.

    A Virginia Lemon Law Attorney Can Help

    If your Lemon Law claim involves special circumstances, including injury or exceptional hardship that was the direct result of the defective car, you should work with the Lemon Law attorneys at The Consumer Law Group, P.C. We will assess your case to determine if you are entitled to additional damages. We are here to help you protect your rights as a consumer in Virginia, call us today at 804.282.7900. Connect with us today to learn more.

     

  • What is an “open repair” and how could it affect my Virginia Lemon Law claim?

    How Will an Open Repair Form Affect My Case?

    Anytime you have to return a new car to the dealership to diagnose and repair a problem, it is a major annoyance. After all, didn’t you buy a new car so that you would have reliable transportation and not have to make trips to the mechanic? The good news is that new cars are under warranty and, other than the inconvenience of being without your car, the repair shouldn’t cost you anything. But how do you know when this minor annoyance could turn into a major problem and what should you do to protect yourself? We give you advice on what to avoid here.

    What Is an “Open Repair Order?”

    It may sound harmless enough. You take your car into the dealer for a problem and the mechanic diagnoses the issue and tells you he needs to order a part. You are told you can take the car home to wait for the part to come in and they will just leave the order “open” until the part comes in and the repair is completed. Another possible scenario is when the mechanic cannot figure out what is wrong with the car. He may tell you to keep driving it to see if the problem persists, and in the meantime, will keep the repair order open. Seems reasonable—but the reality is you want to avoid open repair orders if at all possible.

    Why You Should Ask for Repair Orders to Be Closed Out

    When you have cause to file a Lemon Law claim, your main sources of evidence are going to repair orders and invoices. To be eligible for a Lemon Law claim, you must prove that the car had a persistent problem that could not be repaired in a reasonable number of attempts—usually three or four. The only proof you have that the repairs were attempted and were unsuccessful will be the invoices for repair. If a repair order is left open as multiple attempts are made, it will only count as one repair attempt and a Lemon Law claim will not be supported. In order to avoid this loophole, we recommend that you do the following:

    • Ask for a signed copy of the repair order each time you take your car in.

    • Each time you take your vehicle home, even if it has not been repaired, ask the dealer to close out the repair order ticket and give you a copy of the invoice.

    • Make sure the invoice specifies what was done to diagnose the problem, what parts are on order, the “in/out” dates, and “miles in/miles out” documentation.

    Understand that you have a right to all documentation about vehicle repairs and that you should keep these orders and invoices for your records. If you have questions about your auto repair associated with a Lemon Law Claim contact The Consumer Law Group today at 804.282.7900

     

  • Can I file a Lemon Law claim when the dealer can’t figure out what’s wrong with my new car?

    What Are Your Options When a Dealer Can't Find the Problem With Your New CarThere is nothing more frustrating than having a problem with your new car that the dealer can’t or won’t fix. You may experience a strong vibration at a particular speed or find that the brakes lock up unexpectedly from time to time. When you take the car to the dealership and explain your problem, you are met with questions and doubt. The mechanic takes the car to diagnose the problem and tells you he cannot find anything wrong with it. The dealer may say that there is a “failure to duplicate” the problem and you are left hanging. Why does this happen and what can you do?

    Why Dealerships Don’t Make More of an Effort

    When you bring your car to the dealership for repair while it is still under warranty, you may not be getting top-quality service. This is because the cost of a warranty repair to the dealer is reimbursed by the automaker, but at a pre-determined rate. Common fixes are allotted a maximum labor time by the manufacturer and the dealer will only be reimbursed that amount, no matter how long the repair actually takes. This discourages some dealers from taking the time to properly diagnose and fix your problem. If the car is still under warranty and the problem you are having is difficult to diagnose, the dealer risks losing money on the repair. Less reputable dealerships will instead tell you that they were not able to duplicate the problem, or that the vehicle is operating as designed.

    So What Can You Do About it?

    Under Virginia’s Lemon Law, if a dealership is unable to repair a defect after several attempts, you may be eligible for a full refund or a replacement vehicle. But if the dealer is not admitting that you even have a problem, how can you qualify for a Lemon Law claim? We suggest taking the following steps:

    • Go to another dealership. If the dealership where you bought your car is unable to identify the problem after two attempts, go to another dealership. Each dealership is independently owned and operated and the guy down the street may be more cooperative.

    • Keep all paperwork. Every time you take your car in for service, the dealer mechanic must fill out warranty paperwork. Be sure to ask for your copy—even if no work is completed, or the dealer claims NPF (no problems found).  This will establish a paper trail of your efforts to repair the car.

    • Pay an independent mechanic to diagnose the problem. While a warranty repair should cost you nothing, it may be worth it to pay a trusted mechanic to evaluate and diagnose your problem. While you should not have him actually make the repair as that could void the warranty, returning to the dealership with a written evaluation of the problem could either solve the problem or at least provide support for a Lemon Law claim.

    • Hire an attorney. A Lemon Law attorney will be able to gather the information you need to support a claim for reimbursement or replacement of your vehicle.

    If you think the Consumer Law Group can be of assistance in pursuing a Lemon Law claim in Virginia, please fill out the form on this page for a free case evaluation.

     

  • How long will it take to settle my Lemon Law claim in Virginia?

    How Long Should My Case Take?Settling a Lemon Law claim is not as simple as returning an unwanted pair of jeans to The Gap. It can take many months from the day you buy your car to the day you are fully compensated when that car is a lemon. In some instances, it can even take years. However, when you work with an experienced Lemon Law attorney, the process should be much quicker.

    This Case Took Over Five Years

    In a highly publicized Lemon Law case out of Wisconsin a few years ago, Mercedes-Benz was ordered to pay $482,000 in damages for a car that was originally purchased for $56,000 in 2005. This is one of the largest Lemon Law judgements ever awarded, but it took over five years from the purchase date of the car to the final resolution of the case. In this case, the manufacturer had 30 days to respond to the owner’s initial request for a refund and failed to do so. Under Wisconsin law, the owner could then sue for double damages and legal fees, which he did. After several appeals, the case finally settled in 2010, with Mercedes being ordered to pay $168,000 (double the purchase price, plus interest) to the owner and $314,000 in legal fees. Had the manufacturer responded promptly, they would have saved several hundred thousand dollars.

    Most Cases Take Only a Few Months:

    This case is unusual as most cases only take 6 - 9 months. Some ways to ensure a faster turnaround for your claim include the following:

    1. Keep detailed and accurate repair records.

    2. File a Lemon Law claim as soon as possible after three unsuccessful repair attempts for a non-safety related defect, or after one unsuccessful repair of a safety defect and after giving written notice to the manufacturer.  Written notice means writing a letter to the manufacturer, not an email.  

    3. Hire an experienced Lemon Law attorney.

    The Wisconsin case is a good example of the courts cracking down on manufacturers who delay decisions in the hopes that a consumer will just give up. When you work with a Lemon Law attorney, however, he will make sure your case is dealt with promptly.

    Call The Consumer Law Group, P.C. With Your Lemon Law Concerns

    If you have a lemon and are struggling to be heard by the dealership or manufacturer, call our office today. We will determine if you have a valid claim. Our fees are paid by the manufacturer upon successful completion of the case.

     

  • Are motorcycles covered under the Virginia Lemon Law?

    Mechanic Working on a MotorcycleOwning a motorcycle is a life-long dream for many people and whether they ultimately choose a comfortable cruiser or a high-speed sport bike, they expect that their new purchase will have them out on the open road more than in the shop. However, like other new vehicles, motorcycles can experience mechanical problems that need repair. Fortunately, motorcycles are covered under Virginia’s Lemon Law, so the owner is protected when he purchases a defective bike.

    What Vehicles Are Covered?

    Basically, all new vehicles—and some used vehicles—are covered under the law, including:

    • Passenger cars designed and used primarily for the transportation of no more than 10 persons including the driver

    • Pickup or panel trucks designed for the transportation of property and having a registered gross weight of 7,500 pounds or less

    • Motorcycles, mopeds, or the self-propelled motorized chassis of a motor home

    • Demonstrator or leased vehicles with which a warranty was issued

    In order to win a Lemon Law claim, you will have to show that your bike had to be repaired for the same defect three or more times in the first 18 months of ownership or it has been in the shop for over 30 days.  If it is a  life threatening defect then the law only requires 1 unsuccessful repair attempt.  

    Common Mechanical Problems in New Motorcycles

    According to a Consumer Reports motorcycle owner satisfaction survey, around 20 percent of owners report a significant failure of their bike within the first four years of ownership. While only the failures occurring in the first 18 months would qualify for a Lemon Law claim, it’s helpful to note that the following systems are most likely to fail on new bikes:

    • Electrical systems. Components such as the starter, alternator, lights, spark plugs, and battery can all act up in the first few months of ownership.

    • Accessories. Not all accessories will be covered by the Lemon Law, but some factory-installed options may be covered if they are defective.

    • Brakes. Problems with a new bike’s brakes will likely qualify as a significant safety defect, which the dealer will only have one attempt to repair.

    • Fuel system. Any problems with the fuel tank, pump, filter, or relay could warrant a Lemon Law claim.

    Your Virginia Lemon Law Attorney Will Know If Your Motorcycle Is a Lemon

    Your motorcycle dealership in Virginia should be familiar with the Lemon Law and should cooperate when you need to file a claim. However, if you are facing resistance, give our office a call. We will tell you if we can help.

     

  • Does a safety recall give me a Lemon Law claim?

    Automobile Recall SignThere is understandably some confusion about when a defect in a new car warrants a Lemon Law claim. Many people assume that if the manufacturer is admitting to a defect through a recall, there must be cause for a Lemon Law claim. However, this is rarely the case. To understand why, we need to explain the difference between a safety recall and Virginia’s Lemon Law. The two consumer safety protections apply to different issues related to new cars.

    Lemon Laws Apply to a Single Vehicle

    When you buy a new car, you expect it to be perfect. Now and then, new cars have kinks to work out which the dealership should repair at no cost to you under the car’s warranty. However, when you have to take the car back to the dealership several times in the first 18 months to fix the same problem, you may have a claim under Virginia’s Lemon Law entitling you to compensation in the form of a refund of your purchase price or a new car of comparable value. If the problem with the car is an immediate threat to your safety, the dealership has one opportunity to fix it before the Lemon Law kicks in. In general, Lemon Law defects are the result of an error in the manufacturing of a single car.

    Safety Recalls Apply to All Cars

    When poor design or a defective component affects the safety of an entire line of cars, the automaker is required to repair the defect in all of those cars at no cost to the owner. They do this by issuing a recall of all affected vehicles. Owners receive a notice by mail that they must take the car into the dealership for the free repair. Since these defects are generally repaired in a single attempt, they may not qualify for a Lemon Law claim.

    Are You Entitled to a Loaner Vehicle While your Car is Being Fixed for a Saftey Recall?

    No, many manufactureres may offer this while your car is being repaired, however, they are not required to do so. 

     

    What If the Dealer Doesn’t Fix the Problem?

    If the recall applies to a non-safety related issue, the dealer will still have several attempts to get it fixed before you can file a Lemon Law claim. However, if it is a safety concern and it is not repaired under the recall, you may have a Lemon Law claim if you have had the car for less than a year and a half. If you find yourself in this situation, give the Lemon Law attorneys at the Consumer Law Group a call. We will discuss your situation with you and let you know if you have a possible claim.

     

  • Can I keep driving a defective car while waiting for a Lemon Law ruling?

    Despite finding a defect in your new car that the manufacturer has been unable to fix, you may be in a situation where the car in question is your only car and you have no choice but to drive it until a decision is reached and you are issued a refund or a replacement of the car. Because the car is still your property, you can continue to drive it until your Lemon Law claim is resolved, but you should be aware of what it could cost you.

    Do Not Drive a Car With a Serious Safety Defect

    The first question to consider is whether the car’s nonconformity affects the safety of the vehicle in any way. When a Lemon Law claim is based on a A Lemon Car Broken Down on the Side of the Roadsafety defect, the manufacturer is usually only given one chance to fix the defect, so the Lemon Law process should be quicker than it is with a non-safety-related defect. However, if the problem with the car compromises the safety of the driver and passengers, you should stop driving the car immediately. Virginia’s Lemon Law considers a defect to be a serious threat to safety if it is a life-threatening malfunction that prevents the driver from controlling or operating the motor vehicle under ordinary conditions or creates a risk of fire or explosion.

    Use of the Car Could Reduce the Amount of Your Refund

    When you win a Lemon Law claim, the manufacturer will either replace the vehicle with a vehicle of comparable value or refund the purchase price of the vehicle. In both cases, however, any damage to the car you are returning beyond normal wear and tear will be deducted from the value. So, if you damage the car in any way while waiting for your claim to be resolved, the value of that damage will be deducted from the refund. It will be up to you to weigh your need to drive the car against the potential for damaging it.

    A Lemon Law Attorney Will Help With These Decisions

    Many Lemon Law claims can be resolved without the help of an attorney. However, if you are having a hard time with the dealer or manufacturer, you may want to contact an attorney to represent you. The Consumer Law Group is experienced in Virginia Lemon Law and is here to help when your claim gets complicated.

     

  • What can I do if my car has a defect, but it is past the 18 months allowed by the lemon law?

    Claims File in a Filing CabinetVirginia’s Lemon Law applies to persistent defects found in new cars within the first 18 months of ownership. Even if the problem with your car began within those 18 months, if you fail to make the claim within the time limit, you will lose the opportunity to get a full refund of your purchase price or a new car in exchange for the defective one. However, this does not mean you should accept the defect. You are likely still covered under the car’s warranty and can make a warranty claim to get the problem fixed.

    Making a Warranty Claim

    Some new car warranties cover your car for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first, but many manufacturers offer longer warranties, up to five years or 60,000 miles and power train warranties for up to 100,000 miles. Make sure you understand what your warranty covers before making a claim. Unscrupulous dealers or repair shops may try to claim that a particular issue is not covered by the warranty when in fact it is. Read your warranty carefully and understand exactly what is covered.

    There are various types of warranties, including:

    • Bumper-to-bumper. This is the general coverage that would pay to repair defects with any factory-installed part between the front bumper and the rear bumper. In other words, everything on the car. Tires are usually not included because they come with a separate tire manufacturer warranty.

    • Powertrain. This coverage applies to the engine, transmission, and transaxle parts, and usually lasts longer than basic coverage. This is also known as a drivetrain warranty.

    Understand When the Warranty Applies

    Remember that the Lemon Law only applies to defects covered under warranty that are not repaired after several attempts. For a single defect that is fixed with the first repair attempt, the warranty would apply rather than the Lemon Law. However, once the 18 months are up, any repair issue may still be covered by the warranty and you may be eligible for your damages or a refund of the purchase price under a breach of warranty claim.

    If you have any questions about the Lemon Law in Virginia, feel free to browse our website. Attorney John C. Gayle co-wrote Virginia’s Lemon Law and provides lots of useful information to consumers.

     

  • What can I do if my used car does not qualify for a Lemon Law claim in Virginia?

    A Mechanic Working on a Used Car LemonWhile a handful of states have used car Lemon Laws, Virginia is not one of them. In Virginia, if the used car you purchased is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty and is less than 18 months old, you may be able to file a Lemon Law claim for mechanical or safety defects that cannot be repaired in a reasonable number of attempts. However, it is more common for used cars to be older than 18 months and to be past the limits of their warranty. If this is the case with the used car you have purchased and you find that it doesn’t run as promised, you may still be able to do something about it.

    Federal Laws That May Help

    When you buy a used car in good faith and find within a short period of time that something is wrong with it, you may be able to seek a remedy under one of the following federal laws:

    • The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Under the UCC, when you buy a used car, it automatically includes an implied warranty that the car is fit for transportation. However, an “as-is” sale usually overrides the implied warranty. Since most used cars are sold as-is, this code probably won’t help. However, the District of Columbia prohibits dealers from disclaiming the implied warranty, so the UCC can be effective there.

    • The Federal Trade Commission's Used Car Rule. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires dealers who sell five or more cars per year to post a buyer’s guide in every car they sell. The guide must provide certain key pieces of information about the risks associated with buying a used car. If the used car you bought doesn’t include such information, you may have a claim if something goes wrong.

    • Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Also known as the federal lemon law, this law prohibits the dealer from disclaiming an implied warranty when a car is sold with an express written warranty. It also provides for the awarding of attorney fees in particular cases.

    Getting your money back or trading a defective used car for a different car are not easy actions to take in Virginia. You can protect yourself from buying a defective used car by having a mechanic inspect it before you buy it and checking for repair records and possible damage by running a Vehicle Identification Number report. If you believe you have been treated unfairly by a used car dealer, tell us about it on the form on this page. We will get back to you soon to let you know if you have a viable claim.

     

  • If my Lemon Law case crosses state lines, will the UCC help?

    A Lemon Car With Broken Car PartsWhile the rights guaranteed by Virginia’s Lemon Law are relatively easy to navigate, when your Lemon Law claim involves a state other than Virginia, you may run into complications. If you purchased your vehicle in Maryland, for example, the differences between their Lemon Law and ours may make pursuing a claim more difficult. When this happens, the set of national guidelines known as the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) may be of assistance in your case.

    What Is the Uniform Commercial Code?

    The UCC is a collection of legal rules and standards relating to various commercial activities. Originally drafted by legal scholars in 1952, the UCC has been amended over the years and parts of it have been adopted by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. While it is a lengthy document full of legalese, an experienced consumer attorney will know which standards apply in Virginia and will help in a particular case. In general, Article 2 of the UCC, which governs contracts for the sale of goods, applies to car buyers with significant non-compliance issues.

    How Can the UCC Help in a Lemon Law Claim?

    The areas of the UCC that can help bolster a Lemon Law claim are the provisions on tender, acceptance, rejection, and revocation. In simple terms, these provisions are as follows:

    • Tender. This gives consumers the right to refuse to accept any goods that do not comply with the contract. This is difficult with cars as most consumers are unable to identify mechanical problems on sight.  The UCC calls this "rejection", which must occur before you drive away.

    • Acceptance. When accepting goods, consumers are doing so with the assumption that the manufacturer will honor any warranty agreements.

    • Revocation. If, after a period of time, you discover that the car does not conform to the contract agreement, you may revoke your acceptance of the car.  In Virginia after notifying the seller in writing that you are revoking acceptance, you cannot continue to use the product.

    Virginia’s Lemon Law spells out the exact terms for returning a new car and recovering all expenses, so you would not need to invoke the UCC for a Lemon Law case in Virginia. However, if your case involves a dealership in a state that does not have a similar law, or the time to use the Lemon Law has expired, your attorney may be able to use provisions of the UCC to support your claim.

    Call The Consumer Law Group, P.C.

    If you are unable to settle a Lemon Law claim directly with the dealer or manufacturer, you may need the help of an experienced Virginia Lemon Law attorney. Fill out the claim form on this page and we will be in touch promptly.

     

  • How much do Lemon Law claims cost auto manufacturers?

    A Wooden Gavel on Top of a Stack of MoneyWhen you file a successful Lemon Law claim in Virginia, you are entitled to choose whether you want a replacement vehicle or a refund of the full contract price. When you choose a refund, you are also entitled to any additional expenses, otherwise known as “collateral charges” related to the purchase and operation of your vehicle for the time you had it. If you needed the services of an attorney for a successful resolution of your Lemon Law claim, the carmaker must also pay the legal fees. All told, the carmaker’s costs can add up to much more than just the cost of the vehicle.

    What Is Included in Collateral Charges

    On top of the purchase price of the vehicle, a carmaker must also refund the following additional expenses:

    • Sales tax

    • License fees

    • Registration fees

    • Title fees

    • Finance charges and interest

    • Transportation charges

    • Dealer preparation charges

    • Charges for service contracts, undercoating, rust proofing, or installed options, not recoverable from a third party

    If the vehicle you are returning was leased, you are also entitled to the following:

    • Capitalized cost reductions

    • Credits and allowances for any trade-in vehicles,

    • Fees to another to obtain the lease

    • Insurance or other costs expended by the lessor for the benefit of the lessee

    You are also entitled to a reimbursement of mileage, expenses, and reasonable loss of use necessitated by attempts to conform the motor vehicle to the express warranty.

    What This Means to the Manufacturer

    Using an actual case litigated by The Consumer Law Group several years ago, we will illustrate what this cost breakdown could end up looking like. In this case, a woman made a Lemon Law claim on a high-mileage vehicle that was nonetheless still under warranty. Our firm demanded a payment of $15,000 to pay off the loan and legal fees totaling approximately $15,000. The automaker refused, counter offering at $5,000. The claim went to court, and the jury found for the plaintiff and ordered the carmaker to pay the following:

    • $33,829.59 for payments made to date, to pay off the loan, and for court costs, minus $2,051.17 for mileage

    • $23,260 in legal fees

    • $55,028.59 total cost to manufacturer

    Considering that the original purchase price of the vehicle was around $20,000, the Lemon Law claim clearly cost the manufacturer much more than a straightforward refund would have cost them.

    There Are No Guarantees in Lemon Law Cases

    When carmakers fight back against Lemon Law claims, they can end up making big payouts. As Lemon Law attorneys, our primary goal is to get you a new car or the money you are entitled to, but when we have a legitimate claim and the manufacturer disagrees, they risk losing large sums of money and our clients can benefit.

     

  • Why do I need to keep my automotive repair shop order receipts?

    When you discover your new car is a lemon, the burden will be on you to prove that to the manufacturer or in a legal proceeding later on. You will be required to present evidence of repeated repair attempts with an authorized repair shop. If you have been keeping accurate records since your first problem with the car, this should not be a problem.

    Dealer Repair Orders

    Each time you take your car into the dealership for a repair under warranty, the dealer is required to give you a receipt for the work performed. You are Automotive Repair Order With a Pen and Set of Keysentitled by law to a copy of all warranty work done on your vehicle, even when no repairs are performed. Even if the vehicle has just been inspected or test-driven, you should ask for a receipt. The dealer should be able to provide you with an itemized, legible statement including all diagnostic and repair work completed. The statement should include the following:

    • A general description of the problem reported by the owner

    • A diagnosis or identification of the defect or condition

    • An itemization of parts replaced

    • A description and accounting of labor

    • Date of repair

    • Odometer reading at time of repair

    • Date vehicle was returned to the owner

    Each time your vehicle is looked at by the dealership, you should ask for a copy of the repair order and keep it in a safe place. These orders will serve as your evidence should you need to present a lemon law case.

    What You Should Do at the Repair Shop

    When you take your vehicle into the dealership with a complaint, be sure to do the following:

    • Give the service writer a clear description of all the warranty problems you are experiencing.

    • If you have a problem that comes and goes, be as detailed as possible in describing the nature and frequency of the problem and the situation when it occurs.

    • Make sure the service writer takes down all of the information you provided.

    • Leave a written summary of this information for the service writer.

    • When picking up your vehicle after repairs are complete, review the repair order to make sure all your complaints were listed, even if the dealer says no problem found.  

    When a consumer keeps complete records of repair attempts, making a lemon law claim can be a simple process that is easily resolved to the consumer’s benefit. A lack of records will harm a legitimate claim. It may be up to you to insist on receipts for every repair, but you are within your rights to do so.

     

  • When is it legal to repossess a car in Virginia?

    Vehicle repossession laws in Virginia are fairly simple. If you fail to make a payment on your car loan, your vehicle can be repossessed by the lender or a third party authorized by the lender. However, you have rights during this process and there are steps you can take to prevent your car from being repossessed.

    If You Can’t Pay, Notify the Lender

    If you know you are not going be able to make a payment on time, contact the creditor right away. If your creditor believes, based on your past history, that you will be able to make the payment by the date you give, they may work with you. You may even be able to negotiate a revised schedule of payments going forward that are more manageable for you. If you do manage to negotiate a change to your original loan contract, get the new agreement in writing to prevent problems later. It is always easier to try to prevent a seizure than to get your car back after it is already gone.

    Your Rights Under Virginia Law

    Your loan contract should specify exactly what constitutes a default that could lead to a repossession. Be sure you understand the terms of your contract Tow Truck Towing a Repossed Carbefore you miss a payment. Some contracts allow for a seizure of your vehicle as soon as you miss your first payment. In Virginia, lenders do not have to notify you prior to repossessing your vehicle. Repossession agents are permitted to come on to your property to take your vehicle, but are banned from doing any of the following:

    • Using physical force

    • Threatening physical force

    • Breaking into a closed garage or gated area

    If an agent does any of these things, his employer may be required to pay a penalty and the actions may become a legal defense for you later on. Before your repossessed car is resold, the creditor must notify you of the date and time of the sale to allow you time to make the required payments to get the car back. If the creditor sells your car for more than you owed on it, you may be entitled to a refund. If however, it is sold for less than what you owe, you may have to pay the difference.

    The Consumer Law Group, P.C. Can Offer Guidance

    Once you have defaulted on a car loan and lost possession of your car, there may not be much you can do to get it back. However, if you believe you have been treated unfairly or that laws were broken during the repossession process, contact our office. We will give you an honest assessment of your case.

     

  • What counts as a repair attempt under Virginia’s Lemon Law?

    Any time you have to return to the car dealership after purchasing a new car is a hassle, but when you are making repeated visits because of a problem with your new car, it is especially frustrating. Fortunately, there may be something you can do. If you have taken your car in repeatedly to have the same mechanical or safety defect fixed, you may be able to return the car for a full refund or replacement. Under Virginia’s Lemon Law, any defect that is not fixed in a “reasonable number of repair attempts” is eligible for a claim. We explain what counts as a repair attempt here.

    It’s All in the Wording

    An Auto Mechanic Working on a CarVirginia’s Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, otherwise known as the Lemon Law, is a carefully worded document designed to give consumers legal rights when they purchase a defective new car. Our own John Cole Gayle co-authored the law, so he is well aware of what the language means. A key component of the law is that the car has not been fixed in a reasonable number of repair attempts. Virginia law further explains “reasonable” to mean three or more attempts in an 18-month period for a mechanical defect and one attempt for a serious safety issue. But what exactly counts as a repair attempt? What if you take it in for evaluation, but nothing is done?

    What Is a Repair Attempt?

    The first thing to be aware of is that all repair attempts must be made by an authorized repair shop, which usually means any authorized dealer for the manufacturer of your vehicles. In general, a repair attempt is the replacement or adjustment of a part or component to correct a defect or condition. If the dealership inspects or test-drives the vehicle without making any repairs, even though they claim "no problem found", and you later prove that the problem does exist, this visit would also count as a repair attempt. You will have to provide documentation of each visit to the dealership and what was done to the car to support your Lemon Law claim, so make sure you get a repair order for every repair, and that the days out of service and all the complaints you told the dealer about are listed.  

    The Consumer Law Group, P.C.  Is Your Lemon Law Firm

    Many Lemon Law claims can be easily resolved by the consumer by working directly with the automaker. However, when your legitimate claim is rejected, you may need a lawyer to back you up. We will help you gather documentation of every repair attempt to support your claim. Fill out the form on this page for a case evaluation.

     

  • Where should I take my new car for repairs?

    A Man Working at a Repair Shop DeskYou may not be expecting to have to take your brand new car in for repairs. After all, you decided to trade in your old car to avoid trips to the repair shop. Your new car should be perfect. However, when you find that there is an issue with your new car, it is important that you only take it to a dealer authorized by the manufacturer. If you don’t, you could lose your chance to file a Lemon Law claim if the defects are not repaired in a timely manner.

    Who Can Make a Repair to a New Car?

    Lemon Law claims apply to any “nonconformity” in a new car and may be anything from a fit-and-finish flaw to a major safety defect. All of these issues are covered under the manufacturer’s warranty and must be repaired by an authorized dealer—usually the dealership where you bought the car. It is important that you document all repair attempts and keep all receipts in order to support a Lemon Law claim down the road.  Before leaving the dealership with your repair order, make sure the information on it lists all the complaints you made even if there were no problems found.  Make sure the days out of service are noted and accurate.  Under the law, the dealer is required to give you a repair order.  

    What Could Void My Claim?

    Many drivers have tried-and-true mechanics whom they would trust with their lives. Unfortunately, for a new car repair, you will have to put your faith in the dealership instead. Remember that if they cannot repair it in a reasonable number of attempts, you could be eligible for a full refund or a new car under Virginia’s Lemon Law. To avoid losing that opportunity, avoid the following:

    • Making a repair yourself. You may be a skilled do-it-yourselfer, but don’t touch your new car! You should not have to fix anything on a new car, so take it in to the dealership for everything—even a problem you could easily fix yourself. Doing your own repairs could ruin your chances for a Lemon Law claim and void the warranty.

    • Going to your local mechanic. Your local mechanic may be certified and highly skilled, but wait until you’re past the time limit for filing a lemon law claim—usually 18 months—before you take your car to him for a repair.

    • Going to a chain shop. Chain repair shops may advertise that they are “certified,” but they are not authorized to make warranty repairs. Avoid these shops until your warranty has expired, and even then, you may want to only go to them for routine maintenance.

    You Can Trust an Experienced Lemon Law Attorney

    If you are getting push-back from a manufacturer on a legitimate Lemon Law claim, call the experienced Lemon Law attorneys at The Consumer Law Group. John C. Gayle co-wrote the law and he will evaluate your case and let you know if you have a legal claim. Fill out the form on this page to get started.

     

  • What are unauthorized modifications under Virginia’s lemon law?

    Not all new cars are perfect, although you expect them to be when you make the investment. When a new car has a defect that cannot be fixed after several repair attempts, the buyer can file a claim under the Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, also known as the Lemon Law. Under this law, the buyer may get a full refund of all costs for the vehicle or a comparable replacement vehicle if he can prove that his new car is a lemon. There are some exceptions to the law, however, including any defect that has resulted from owner neglect, abuse, lack of maintenance, or modifications to the vehicle.

    What Constitutes Abuse or Neglect

    In order to make a claim under the lemon law, you must show that the car has a defect that impairs its use, safety, or resale value. The defect must have A New Black Carbeen caused by the manufacturer and be unfixable by authorized repair shops. If it is shown that your actions—or inaction, in some cases—caused the defect, you will not have a claim under the lemon law. Examples of new car abuse include driving the car off-road, consistent harsh braking or acceleration, excessive speed or reckless driving, or crashing the car. A history of moving violations could be all the proof needed to reject your claim. Not maintaining the vehicle through regular oil changes and fluid checks as required by the manufacturer could constitute neglect and also void your claim.

    Unauthorized Modifications

    Any modification that would void your new car warranty would also void your lemon law claim. If you install a supercharger in your engine and the engine later fails, you would not be able to claim a manufacturer’s defect if the supercharger is found to be the cause of the failure.  This is a bit of a gray area, however, as many modifications people make to new cars have no effect on parts of the car that tend to break down. For example, an aftermarket exhaust has no effect on the engine and fancy rims will not affect power steering, but a dealer could claim that you made unauthorized modifications and therefore gave up your chance of a lemon law claim.  The dealer has to prove a connection between the modification and the defect, but you may not get that far with your case without the help of a lawyer.

    The Consumer Law Group Will Tell You If You Have a Claim

    John Cole Gayle, Jr. is a co-author of Virginia’s Lemon Law. He knows what a strong claim is and whether you may have blown your chances with a modification to your new car. Fill out the “Do you have a claim?” form on this page to get started.

     

  • Will I have to pay legal fees in a lemon law case?

    When you hire an attorney to handle your lemon law case, you will not have to pay a retainer or legal fees up front, nor will you have to give up a percentage of your award to your attorney. This is because, according to the lemon laws in every state, the manufacturer of the defective vehicle is responsible for any and all legal fees, over and above the plaintiff’s award.

    Finding the Right Attorney

    Legal Fees Jar Overflowing With Change

    Just because you will not have to pay the attorney out of your own pocket doesn’t mean you shouldn’t choose your lemon law attorney carefully. Lemon laws are unique in every state and it is not an area of law that is generally covered in law school. Attorneys who do not specialize in lemon law may be willing to take your case, but this is never a good idea. A few red flags to look for when choosing an attorney for your lemon law claim include:

     
    • Seeking a percentage of your award. Your lemon law attorney should itemize his expenses and fees for your case and submit them to the manufacturer for payment above the monetary award of your claim. Therefore, no money is taken from your award to pay an attorney unless you agree to it.

    • No experience with the lemon law. If a law firm does not advertise itself as lemon law specialists, avoid using them. You want a law firm with experience making lemon law claims, not one that is just looking for an easy case.

    • Avoid National Lemon Law Firms that we call "mills".  They make their money based on the quantity of clients they get.  You rarely speak to an attorney, instead, you get an assistant.  Most importantly since they deal with so many clients they do not want to force the manufacturer to pay all your money back and instead encourage you to accept a cash settlement in which you get to keep your "lemon" car.  

    • Taking your case sight unseen. A trustworthy lemon law attorney will make sure you have taken the proper preliminary steps for a lemon law claim and will review your case to make sure you have a valid claim. If you don’t have a valid claim, he will not take your case and you do not risk losing.

    John C. Gayle, Jr. Wrote the Law

    The Consumer Law Group founder, John Gayle, co-authored the legislation that became Virginia’s lemon law. He will not take a case that is not a valid claim.  Fill out the Do You Have a Claim? the contact form on this page to get started.