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.
- Page 3
Is there a time deadline to file a Lemon Law claim?
Yes. A Virginia Lemon Law lawsuit must be filed within 18 months of the warranty first going into effect with the first owner of the vehicle. However, if you have filed for arbitration prior to this 18-month period expiring, then your deadline to file suit is extended by 12 months from the date of any decision by the arbitrator.
The manufacturer wants to give me an extended warranty instead of replacing my car. What happens if I accept it?
You probably will lose all your Lemon Law rights, so be very sure that you can live with the result. Extending the warranty is a very cheap way out for the manufacturer. All you really are getting is the promise that they'll take another "whack" when more things go wrong in the future.
I have a lemon and the manufacturer has agreed to replace it but it wants me to pay for the mileage. Do I have to do that?
No, the Lemon Law does not give the manufacturer the right to make you pay for the miles beyond the mileage on the first repair order for the problem you are complaining about - but they will try to get you to pay for it anyway, hoping you do not know your rights.
How many times do I have to give the dealer the chance to fix my car before it qualifies as a lemon?
Dealing with repeated repairs on your car is certainly frustrating, and particularly so when the repairs you’re making are on a car that you recently purchased. Fortunately, Virginia’s Lemon Law is very clear in defining what exactly constitutes a lemon, and how you can go about proving that the car you purchased qualifies. If your car is a lemon, you are entitled to a full refund of the purchase price of the vehicle, so maintaining records of all your repairs is a great idea.
There are 3 Ways that a Car Can Be Classified as a Lemon under Virginia Law
- If the same "significant" problem is worked on 3 times (i.e you have three separate repair orders) and still exists after that, then your car can be classified as a lemon.
- If your car has a life-threatening defect that affects its driveability, and the defect still exists after one repair attempt, then you have a lemon.
- If the vehicle has been in the shop 30 or more calendar days over the life of the vehicle for ANY problem or defect, and there is still something legitimately wrong with the car, then it's a lemon.
Once you have "notified" the manufacturer, in writing, no matter how many times it has tried to fix it before, there is one "final repair attempt" not to exceed 15 days to correct the problem. If after this time the problems still exist, then you definitely have a lemon and are entitled to a full refund. You can find instructions for giving notice to the manufacturer as well as a Sample Letter to Put the Manufacturer on Notice here.
Our Attorneys Can Handle Your Lemon Law Claim
If you believe your car is a lemon, contact our offices today for a consultation. We’re dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers throughout Virginia, and serve the entire state from our headquarters in Richmond. Call 804-282-7900 to get started.
If I have a lemon, what remedy am I entitled to?
In return for the vehicle, you are entitled to a refund of ALL money you have paid towards the vehicle, such as any down payment, trade-in value, monthly loan payments, plus payoff of any balance on your loan, plus attorney fees, expert witness fees, and court filing fees, LESS mileage on the vehicle up to the first repair attempt for the problem you are complaining of (calculated at 1/2 the IRS business deduction mileage rate). Or, another way of calculating your refund (which GM uses) is that in return for the vehicle, you receive the cash purchase price, plus all collateral charges such as taxes, title and tags, plus any interest you have paid on the loan, plus attorney fees, expert fees, and court costs, less the mileage deduction as described above.
Do I have to pay any attorney fees?
We will provide an initial preliminary review to determine if your vehicle may qualify as a lemon and that it is a case we think we can help you with. This review usually takes place either over the phone or via email, after we have reviewed the information you have sent. During this review, we will further discuss our fees and costs, and any consultation fee if you choose to go forward. Under Virginia's Lemon Law, all reasonable attorney fees, expert witness fees, and court costs have to be paid by the manufacturer.
What are some Lemon Law tips?
1. KEEP A COPY of all paperwork you have regarding your vehicle and its history. This includes all repair orders, purchase contracts, loan contracts, warranty book and owners manual that came with your car.
2. AFTER A REPAIR IS COMPLETED AND YOU PICK UP YOUR CAR, do not leave without a repair order with accurate information.
a) Make sure ALL the problems you complained of are on the repair order. This is your proof that you told them about it. Do not let the service person say something like, "Well, we did not find anything wrong so we did not put it down." Make them write the complaint on the repair order then, if they want, they can write "NPF" - No Problem Found. But you need proof that you complained about it because this will count as a repair attempt if it's on the repair order - even if there is NPF.
b) Make sure the dates out of service are accurate. One dealer trick is to show fewer days than the dealer actually had the car so it's harder for you to reach the magic number of 30 days. (See Lemon Law FAQ, "How many times do I have to give the dealer a chance to fix my vehicle?")
3. TAKE WRITTEN NOTES of all conversations you have with your dealership and repair technicians concerning your vehicle and its “lemon” potential. Include the date, time and what specifically was discussed. This includes phone calls and in-person contacts. Note the days the vehicle was out of service.
4. ASK ABOUT TSB’s, or Technical Service Bulletins, which are instructions from the manufacturer that alert dealerships of specific defects or necessary repairs in certain models. If you don’t ask, your dealer might not present you with this information, so speak up and ask your technician to write your request on the repair order.
5. PREPARE A TIMELINE if you have several repair orders in your possession, organize each repair attempt by date, the number of times the vehicle has been in the shop, and how many days total your vehicle has been out of service.
6. DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED by your dealer, repair technicians, or others who might tell you the problems you are experiencing with your vehicle are minor and that you do not qualify under the lemon law for any sort of relief. ONLY AN ATTORNEY who is licensed to practice law in the state where you purchased your vehicle and has some familiarity with the lemon law, can make that determination!
How do I notify the Manufacturer of any problems?
The address of the manufacturer can be found in your Warranty Booklet, which is provided by the manufacturer at the time of sale. You can find "Instructions on How to Give Notice to the Manufacturer,"as well as a "Sample Letter to Put the Manufacturer on Notice," in our Library or Resources section.
Does the consumer have 3 days to change his mind and return a car to the dealership?
No. There is a very common misconception that a consumer can change his mind within a three-day period, and return a vehicle. In the absence of fraud, the sale of a vehicle in Virginia is a done deal upon signing the contract, and the vehicle cannot be returned within three days because the consumer has changed his/her mind. The sale is final in the absence of fraud or duress.
What can the consumer do if the vehicle appears to be a lemon, and the vehicle is older than 18 months?
The Virginia Lemon Law applies to new or used vehicles that are still within the first 18 months of original factory warranty. When the vehicle is purchased for the first time, the 18-month period begins to run, and a second buyer is only protected within the period that started when the first buyer purchased the vehicle. If a vehicle is over 18 months old, and is significantly defective, a consumer may be able to file for relief under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which has a four-year statute of limitations period starting at the original purchase date. In successful breach of warranty claims, the consumer must first prove, with an expert report and testimony, that the vehicle has factory defects and the significant problem(s) existed when the vehicle was new, and the consumer has to revoke his acceptance of the vehicle, which requires that the vehicle is parked and no longer driven during litigation. If successful, the consumer can be refunded for the vehicle.