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The Consumer Law Group, P.C.

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.