Understanding Lemon Law in Florida
The Lemon Law in Florida is designed to protect consumers who have purchased or leased a new or demonstrator vehicle that has significant defects or conditions that affect its use, value, or safety. These defects, also known as “nonconformities,” must be reported to the manufacturer or its authorized service agent within the first 24 months after the vehicle’s delivery. If the manufacturer fails to repair the defects after a reasonable number of attempts, they are required by law to either refund the purchase price or provide a replacement vehicle.
Reporting Defects and Nonconformities
It is crucial for consumers to report any issues with their vehicles promptly. Delaying the reporting process can lead to the loss of valuable time and protection. To ensure a smooth process, consumers should keep records of all repairs and maintenance, including written repair orders obtained from the service agent (usually the dealer). These records should document the dates of examination and repair, as well as the odometer mileage when the vehicle was taken in and picked up after repair. Additionally, keeping receipts or invoices for purchase/lease expenses and any relevant repairs is highly recommended.
Determining “A Reasonable Number of Attempts”
The Lemon Law outlines two presumptions for what constitutes “a reasonable number of attempts” to repair a vehicle:
If the vehicle has been brought back to the service agent for repair of the same recurring problem at least three times, the consumer must provide written notification to the manufacturer, not the dealer. This notification gives the manufacturer a final opportunity to repair the vehicle. The manufacturer is then required to direct the consumer to a reasonably accessible repair facility within 10 days and fix the vehicle within an additional 10 days.
Alternatively, if the vehicle has been in and out of the authorized repair shop for repair of one or more different problems for a cumulative total of 15 or more days, the consumer must notify the manufacturer in writing via certified, registered, or express mail. The manufacturer or its authorized service agent must then have at least one opportunity to inspect or repair the vehicle. If the vehicle remains out of service for a cumulative total of 30 or more days due to nonconformities, the consumer may be eligible for a purchase price refund or a replacement vehicle.Advertisement
What if the Vehicle is Not Repaired?
If the manufacturer fails to correct one or more nonconformities within a reasonable number of attempts but does not provide a refund or replacement vehicle, consumers have the right to seek arbitration. The specific arbitration process depends on whether the manufacturer sponsors its own arbitration program or not.
If the manufacturer sponsors a state-certified arbitration program, the dispute must first go through that program. The manufacturer’s warranty or other written material should provide information on how and where to file a claim with the state-certified program.
If the manufacturer does not have a state-certified program or if the state-certified program fails to make a decision within 40 days, the dispute must be submitted to the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, administered by the Office of the Attorney General. The Attorney General’s Lemon Law Arbitration Division will conduct an eligibility screening to determine if the claim qualifies for arbitration before the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board.
For more information about the Lemon Law in Florida and your rights as a consumer, visit Garrity Traina.