Is Your Car a Lemon – TX Lemon Law Guide

Texans who buy faulty cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, boats, computers or any other kind of consumer goods are entitled to reimbursement under the state and federal Lemon Laws (the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act).

To be eligible for the TX lemon law on automobiles, a vehicle must have undergone repeated factory warranty repairs. Compensation under the lemon law TX might include a refund, a new vehicle, or cash. For those who don’t qualify for any of these lemon laws, the TLA and/or other relevant car-buying regulations may give a way to collect financial damages that may be used to trade in or pay for repairs.

Get a Texas Lemon Law review for free by contacting a TX lemon law attorney or by reading the helpful guide below on your TX lemon law rights by The Law Advisory, the state’s one-stop information source for all things Lemon Law in Texas.

Texas Lemon Law Rights

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Texans who purchase or lease new automobiles and have difficulty having them fixed are protected under the state’s Lemon Law. The Texas Lemon Law Act may assist consumers in obtaining a refund, replacement, or repair for a defective car. Going to court may be a time-consuming and costly process.

In 1983, the Texas Legislature passed the Texas Car Lemon Law. An appeals court affirmed the legality of the statute in 1985, despite a legal challenge. The Texas Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Division and the Motor Vehicle Board implement the Lemon Law in Texas.

The Motor Vehicle Division has aided in the resolution of several disputes via the use of official hearings and mediation where permitted by law. The division handled 12,282 complaints between 1988 and 1997. More than 1,200 written complaints were received by the division in 1997, and 182 hearings were conducted on concerns that could not be settled informally. As many as half of the cases heard in 1997 resulted in some kind of compensation for the customer, including vehicle replacement, buyback, repair, or some other reasonable remedy.

The Lemon Law was reformed by the legislature in 1991 to better serve consumers. Consumers may now be paid for some incidental charges, and the previous definition of a “lemon” was broadened. They also have more time to file a complaint. The Lemon Law now requires a disclosure notice accompanying each car that is repurchased or replaced.

Towable recreational vehicles (TRVs) were included in the Lemon Law in 1997. In addition to their primary purpose of temporary human residence, TRVs must

  1. be registered and titled in Texas;
  2. be constructed on a single chassis;
  3. contain life support system(s) and
  4. must be capable of being towed by another.

If the vehicle is still covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty, the relief offered to used car purchasers is restricted to repairs and no further assistance.

What does it cover?

In most cases, the Lemon Law is applicable to new vehicles that develop issues that are covered by a written manufacturer guarantee. This includes automobiles, pickup trucks, vans, motorbikes, TRVs, motor homes, all-terrain vehicles. Demonstrator vehicles are also included in the definition of new automobiles.

Used motor vehicles, repossessed cars, non-travel trailers, watercraft, and agricultural equipment are all excluded from the scope of the regulation. It also does not cover vehicles having:

  • problems caused by the owner’s abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications to the vehicle,
  • Its parts or components that were not installed or authorized by the manufacturer, or
  • Issues that do not have a significant impact on the vehicle’s usage or market value are classified as minor. Minor rattling or stereo issues are often disregarded under the Lemon Law.

A manufacturer should be understood to include distributors and converters.

How to Know if Your Vehicle is a Lemon?

It is possible to label an automobile as “lemon” if it fits all of the following criteria:

  • There is a major fault or abnormal issue with the car.
  • The condition or defect is covered by a formal guarantee provided by the manufacturer.
  • Within the warranty period, the owner must notify the dealer or manufacturer of the defect or condition that has occurred.
  • In exchange for making a fair number of tries to correct the condition or defect, the owner provides the dealer or manufacturer with written authorization.
  • The owner sends a written notification of the fault to the manufacturer (ideally by certified mail) and provides the manufacturer with at least one chance to rectify the issue.
  • The defect or condition continues to exist and has a significant negative impact on the vehicle’s use or market value, or it poses a serious safety hazard to the public.
  • It is the owner’s responsibility to submit a Lemon Law complaint timely and pay the filing charges.

How many opportunities does the Dealer have to repair the Vehicle?

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It is simple to figure out how many opportunities a dealer has to repair a fault. Simply check whether you pass the four-times test, serious-safety-hazard test, or 30-days test to determine your proficiency.

If you pass one of these tests, the manufacturer or authorized dealer will be presumed to have made a reasonable number of efforts to correct the fault. TRVs are exempt from the mileage limitations in the majority of cases.

Four-Times Test

The four-times test applies if you have brought your car to a dealership for repairs:

  • Twice during the first twelve months or 12,000 miles for the same issue or defect, whichever comes first
  • After the second repair effort, twice again over the next year or 12,000 miles
  • The issue has yet to be resolved.

you have passed the test.

Serious-Safety-Hazard Test

This test applies if you have taken your vehicle for the repair of a major safety hazard:

  • one time during the first year or 12,000 kilometers, whichever comes first
  • a second time during the first year or 12,000 miles after the initial repair
  • The issue has yet to be resolved.

you have passed the requisite.

30-Days Test

This test applies if the automobile has been out of service due to an issue covered by the warranty:

  • For 30 days or more within the initial 24 months or 24,000 mileage, not necessarily all at once
  • During the first year or 12,000 miles following delivery, there were two repair attempts.
  • There is still a significant issue.

You have passed the 30-day test.

If a similar loaner vehicle was supplied while the car was being repaired, that period does not count against the 30 days period.

How long do you have to file a Lemon Law Complaint?

A TX lemon law complaint has to be filed within 6 months following the earlier of:

  1. Express warranty term expires;
  2. 24 months; or
  3. 24,000 mileage after the delivery date of your vehicle (except TRVs)

The occurrence of the above events determines the filing deadline. Complaints should be filed immediately when difficulties arise with the vehicle’s repair.

You may still be able to seek warranty repairs from the Motor Vehicle Board if you have gone over the time limit.

Why so many requirements?

The majority of individuals believe that a vendor or manufacturer should repair damaged items or refund the purchase money with little or no effort. Automobile makers, on the other hand, cannot afford to do so. In comparison to other consumer goods, their items are more costly and warranty problems are more difficult to resolve. There are times when it’s appropriate to query whether or not the automobile is really faulty.

Customers had to bring lawsuits to seek compensation before the Lemon Law was established. Most states have enacted rules that allow customers to pursue their claims in a reasonably short, affordable, and straightforward manner. However, every legislation has its own set of rules. In order to make it easier for you to comprehend the legal requirements and processes, The Law Advisory will do its best.

Informal Procedures

What is my first step?

Send a letter to the manufacturer, preferably through certified mail, if your dealership is unable to fix your vehicle’s issues. You should be able to find the name and location of the manufacturer’s regional office in the instruction manual or warranty booklet. Offer the manufacturer a chance to repair the issue by describing the vehicle’s condition. Tell the manufacturer as soon as possible when the car will be returned to the shop for repairs.

A thorough record of all interactions with the dealer and manufacturer, including copies of repair orders, correspondence, and logs of phone conversations, is essential. If you elect to submit a Lemon Law case, you will need to provide TxDOT with copies of all the documents.

How do I file the Complaint?

You must submit your complaint in writing.

A $35 non-refundable filing fee must accompany your complaint if you want your car replaced or repurchased. Although the manufacturer will compensate you if you win the case at a hearing, there is a catch. No fee is required if you are merely requesting warranty repairs.

Can the Complaint be Resolved Quickly?

 Your complaint will be sent to the manufacturer and the dealer by TxDOT. When an issue occurs, the manufacturer will send one of its specialists to the dealership for assistance. If your car is fixed to your satisfaction, your dispute is over.

TxDOT will send a technical expert to see you and officials from the dealer and the manufacturer if the vehicle is still not fixed. In the meeting, TxDOT specialists may be able to assist in resolving any disagreements that may arise. Many complaints are addressed at this level within 30 – 60 days after being submitted.

Unresolved complaints will need a formal hearing.

Formal Procedures

Lemon Law Hearing

Lemon Law Hearing
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A hearing under the Lemon Law gives you the chance to convince an ALJ that your car is a lemon. Witnesses or one’s own testimony must be presented. Besides affidavits and letters, you should also offer repair orders, invoices, and other evidence to the ALJ indicating your car is a lemon.

The process of presenting a case before an ALJ is similar to that of a small-claims court judge. The Texas Rules of Evidence, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Act, and the Texas Administrative Procedure Act all apply to the ALJ’s decision-making process.

Within 150 days of receiving a complaint and filing fee, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) aims to conduct a hearing and give a decision. During the 150-day period, the consumer is entitled to take advantage of the Lemon Law in court as if the Lemon Law procedure had already been completed.

How to prepare for the Hearing?

  • Collect all of your paperwork. This includes work orders or repair tickets, warranty booklet, your sales contract, and the correspondence between you (the buyer) and a dealer or manufacturer (the seller). Bring three copies of every document to the hearing.
  • The work orders should be organized in chronological order. Complete the warranty repair record by starting with the oldest work order on your list. Plan to provide evidence or notes to substantiate the log entries if necessary.
  • Save time by filling out the “List of Agreed Facts” before the hearing.
  • Because notarized statements are often not permitted, you should plan to bring witnesses to the hearing. Friends who saw the car’s troubles should testify at the hearing if they can. Witnesses may also be subpoenaed. Make sure your witnesses know when and where to come, and let them know that it might take the morning or afternoon to complete the process.
  • Collect all of your paperwork. This includes your sales contract, warranty booklet, work orders or repair tickets, and correspondence between you (the buyer) and a dealer or manufacturer (the seller). Bring three copies of every document to the hearing.
  • The work orders should be organized in chronological order. Complete the warranty repair record by starting with the oldest work order on your list. Plan to provide evidence or notes to substantiate the log entries if necessary.
  • Because notarized statements are often not permitted, you should plan to bring witnesses to the hearing. Friends who saw the car’s troubles should testify at the hearing if they can. Witnesses may also be subpoenaed. Make sure the witnesses are aware of when and where to come and let them know that it may take the morning or afternoon to complete the process.
  • Ensure that the vehicle is ready for inspection and testing at the hearing, having current registration and the state inspection. Make sure that its tires aren’t worn out and are correctly aligned and balanced if the problem is extreme vibration. Make that your car has had the necessary maintenance and provide proof of this.

How to prove your case?

Despite the fact that a hearing is not formal like a court trial, the Administrative Law Judge nonetheless has the power to rule on your case. You must prove that:

  • You must demonstrate that you bought or leased a new vehicle and that you still lease or own it at the hearing period of your case;
  • The vehicle had a warranty-covered problem, and you reported it to the dealer or manufacturer within the warranty term;
  • A Lemon Law claim was timely filed and the filing fee was paid;
  • The problem persisted despite several efforts by the manufacturer or its dealer to correct it. The deficiency must be present at the time of hearing; else, the hearing will be impaired;
  • You contacted the manufacturer in writing and gave them at least one opportunity to solve the problem;
  • The flaw or condition significantly affects the vehicle’s usage or market value or poses a significant safety risk. If any of the vehicle’s primary systems are damaged, or if a problem like a water leakage prevents it from being operated regularly in the rain, you may be able to establish that the vehicle’s usage is impeded. It is possible for a car’s value to be reduced by paint imperfections or any other issue that would force a buyer to pay much less than its market price for a similar vehicle that doesn’t have the defect. This is a major safety concern if you are unable to drive the vehicle normally or if there is a significant possibility of a fire or an explosion occurring.

The hearings, which often run between two and four hours, are conducted by TxDOT lawyers. ALJs (Administrative law judges) travel around the state to meet with customers at places that are convenient for them. However, he or she makes a judgment solely on the basis of the facts given, rather than representing any of the parties in the case under consideration.

Elements of proof are explained in simple language. Section 6.07 of VTCS Article 4413 contains the relevant legal provisions (36).

Who gets to be involved in the hearing?

Customers often present their cases, while manufacturers send their customer service representatives. In certain cases, it may be preferable to have an attorney on your side rather than do it alone. TxDOT’s Motor Vehicle Division and your vehicle’s manufacturer must be notified in writing at least 5 days before the hearing if you intend to use the services of an attorney.

Lawyers’ costs are nonrefundable.

What happens at the hearing?

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In the beginning, you’ll provide your side of the tale. As a result, a court or a representative from the manufacturer may ask you questions about your comments or papers.

There follows a statement from the manufacturer. One of three things may be shown by the use of witnesses or documents:

  • The vehicle has no defects at all.
  • The defect is only minor and the vehicle usage and market value are unaffected;
  • Owner neglect or any other element is to blame for the problem.

Take notes while the case is presented by the manufacturer so that you may ask specific questions regarding testimony or documents that are relevant to your inquiry.

The hearing is adjourned for the inspection of the vehicle and test drive after all the evidence has been presented. After you have presented your case, the ALJ may elect to perform an inspection and test drive and will explain the processes. All sides present evidence and advocate for a certain outcome at this point in the hearing.

After the hearing

TxDOT’s ruling will contain the ALJ’s summary of the evidence, findings of fact, reasoning, and legal conclusions immediately after the hearing. In the end, the judge will choose from one of the following options:

  • The complaint should be dropped.
  • Manufacturers have a responsibility to fix a problem with the vehicle.
  • The car is a lemon and should either be replaced or repurchased.

What happens if I win?

If you can establish your case, the law gives you a general idea of what you might expect to get. As the circumstances of each case are unique, judges take into consideration all of the relevant information before rendering a final judgment.

The court will order any of the following if you win your case:

Refund

Manufacturers are required to return the car at the original purchase price, less a fee for the usage of the vehicle. According to a system that takes into consideration the mileage on the vehicle and other variables, a deduction is calculated.

Replacement

When a car fails, the manufacturer must replace it with a similar vehicle of the same make and model, with the only difference being that the miles have been shaved off.

Repair

Defects in the vehicle must be corrected by the manufacturer. Repairs that were supposed to be covered under the warranty will also be compensated.

Reimbursement of Incidental Expenses

Only if the car is ordered to be replaced or repurchased are incidental expenditures reimbursed. If the vehicle breaks down while you’re away from home, they’ll have to pay for the towing service as well as a rental car, hotel, and food.

What if I’m not satisfied?

In other words, neither you nor the manufacturer is required to follow the ALJ’s ruling. The verdict and order are transmitted by certified mail to the customer and the manufacturer. Within 20 days of the decision being sent, each party may submit a move for rehearing. Either the Motor Vehicle Division’s director or the Motor Vehicle Board may receive the motion. The decision is final. Each party receives the rapid notification of the outcome of their rehearing request.

There is a 30-day deadline for a party to appeal to the Travis County State District Court once a request for rehearing has been rejected. No matter how an appeal is filed by a manufacturer, the original order for replacements or repurchases is still in force.

In order to initiate an appeal against a TxDOT decision quickly, a party interested in doing so should contact a counsel immediately.

What other options I have?

The Lemon Law makes it clear that it does not affect a property owner’s other legal rights or remedies. When the statute of limitations has expired, you may sue a dealer or manufacturer for deceptive trade practices, breach of warranty, or any other cause. A private attorney may provide you with information on your alternative legal options.

It is possible to utilize certain of the Lemon Statute’s provisions in the court as part of your complaint if you have had a hearing under the law. If TxDOT hasn’t responded to your complaint and filing fee after 150 days, you have the right to take legal action under the state’s Lemon Law.

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