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Phone: 804-282-7900
The Consumer Law Group, P.C.

6 Questions to Help Determine Whether Your Car Is a Lemon

Take the Virginia Lemon Law test to see if your vehicle qualifies under the Virginia Lemon Law. In Virginia, if your vehicle qualifies under the Lemon Law, the law states that 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 fee, LESS mileage on the vehicle up to the first repair attempt for the problem you are complaining of (calculated at ½ 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.

"Is My Car a Lemon?" These 6 Questions Can Tell You

1. Does Your Car’s Problem "Significantly Impair the Use, Value, or Safety of the Vehicle"?

This is the first key in determining whether or not you have a lemon. The defect with your vehicle must be significant, and it must impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle. There is no definitive list as to what is considered significant, so you will have to use common sense. Problems associated with the engine, transmission, suspension, drivetrain, steering, brakes and any water leaks are often found to be significant. Problems with the radio or rear-view mirror may not meet this criteria. In some cases, it might take an expert witness to determine if the problem "significantly" impairs its use, or "significantly" impairs its value.

2. Have You Given the Dealer/Manufacturer a Reasonable Opportunity to Repair the Defects?

In Virginia, the same "significant" problem has to be worked on 3 times (i.e. you must have three repair orders) and the problem must still exist after that. Or, there has to be a life-threatening defect that affects the drive-ability of the vehicle, and it still exists after one repair attempt. Or, the vehicle has been in the shop 30 or more calender days for ANY problem or defect, and there is still something significantly wrong with the vehicle.

3. Did You Notify the Manufacturer of the Defect Within the First 18 months of Ownership?

In Virginia, the manufacturer, not the dealership, must be placed on written notice of the problem within the first 18 months of the warranty first going into effect with the first owner of the vehicle. (See Instructions on How to Give Notice to the Manufacturer.) A lawsuit must be filed within the 18-month period and the problem has to exist when you file suit. 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.

4. Were the Repairs Done in Virginia?

You do not have to have purchased the vehicle in Virginia in order to apply the Virginia Lemon Law. But, if it was not purchased in Virginia, you must have the majority of the repair work done in Virginia in order to apply the Virginia Lemon Law.

5. Was the Vehicle Purchased New or as a Demonstrator?

The vehicle in question must have been purchased or leased as a new vehicle, or have been a demonstrator. In Virginia, the only used vehicles covered under the Lemon Law are those which are less than 18-months old of the warranty first going into effect with the first owner of the vehicle.

6. Is the Vehicle Used for Personal Use?

Under Virginia law, only those vehicles purchased or leased "in substantial part for personal, family or household use" will be covered under the Lemon Law. The Virginia Lemon Law does not apply to business vehicles used in a significant amount for business purposes. The manufacturer will often subpoena your tax records to try to prove business use if it suspects the vehicle is used for a business.

If you answered "yes" to these six questions, call us today at 804-282-7900. Or you may fill out our Lemon Law Intake Form.