You don’t always get what you pay for. Each year, tens of thousands of Texans find this out the hard way by purchasing or leasing a defective vehicle or other consumer product that never worked the way it was supposed to. Fortunately, if you are one of these folks who bought or leased a “lemon” and made multiple trips to the repair shop in a futile attempt to fix it, Texas lemon laws provide remedies that can help end your frustration and get you some relief.
Texas lemon laws give all of us rights and protections if we purchase an inherently defective car, truck, van, motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle, motorhome or towable recreational vehicle. These laws allow us to get our money back, recover incidental expenses related to the trouble caused by the lemon, or require a dealer to provide us with a working replacement. But not every problem will trigger the lemon law, and there are specific requirements before relief can be obtained. An experienced Texas lemon law attorney can help you understand your rights, get money in your pocket, and get you back on the road.
What Is a “Lemon” in Texas?
Under Texas law, a “lemon” is a vehicle with “a defect or condition that creates a serious safety hazard or substantially impairs the use or market value of the motor vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts” have been made to repair or correct the problem. A “serious safety hazard” is defined as a life-threatening malfunction that substantially impedes a person’s ability to control or operate a vehicle for ordinary use or creates a substantial risk of fire or explosion.
Lemon Laws Cover Vehicles Under Warranty
If your 18-year old car starts needing repeated repairs for the same problem, Texas’ lemon laws likely won’t apply or provide you with any help. These laws are designed to ensure that Texas consumers get what they were promised under the vehicle manufacturer’s written warranty.
Vehicle owners who may make claims under Texas lemon laws are those who:
- Purchased or leased a motor vehicle from a Texas dealer, and who are entitled to enforce the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty; or
- Bought a vehicle from a retail purchaser, lessor or lessee as described above, as long as they are a resident of Texas entitled to enforce the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty.
What Is a “Reasonable Number of Attempts” to Fix a Lemon?
Texas law presumes that a reasonable number of attempts have been made to fix a problem and conform a vehicle to an express warranty if:
- The same nonconformity continues to exist after four or more attempts by the vehicle manufacturer, distributor, or franchised dealers to repair the defect.
- Two of those repair attempts were made within 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, following the date the consumer received the vehicle;
- The two other repair attempts were made within 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, after the date of the second repair effort; or
- The vehicle is out of service for repair for a total of 30 days or more within the first two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first, and at least two efforts were made to fix the problem within the first year/12,000 miles following the date the vehicle was delivered to the consumer.
If, however, the problem is considered a “serious safety hazard,” only two repair attempts – at least one before 12 months/12,000 miles and the second within 12 months/12,000 miles of the first attempt – must be made to be considered “reasonable.”
Do not be discouraged if your lemon does not meet the presumption. If your lemon does not meet the presumption, you may still have lemon rights and you may be entitled to receive a refund, replacement or cash compensation. You need to speak with a Texas lemon law lawyer who can assess your potential claim and provide you with an evaluation.
Remedies Available for Texas Lemon Purchasers
Even if your lemon meets the preceding requirements, you will likely still need to file a complaint and go through a state-run administrative hearing process before you can get any relief under Texas lemon laws. If you successfully do so, the manufacturer will be required to do one of the following:
- Buy back your vehicle for the full purchase price, including taxes, title and license fee, minus an amount charged for the vehicle’s use; or
- Replace the defective vehicle with one that is comparable to your original vehicle; or
- Fix the defect and reimburse you for any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred relating to the defect; AND
- Reimburse you for incidental costs if the manufacturer is required to buy back or replace your vehicle.
Contact a Texas Lemon Lawyer Today to Enforce Your Rights
There are strict time limits as to when you can seek relief under Texas’ lemon laws, and the process of doing so and proving that your vehicle was a lemon can be complicated. Also, Texas lemon laws are detailed and nuanced. It is best to speak with an experienced Texas lemon law attorney who can help explain your rights. If you believe that you have a lemon in your garage, you should consult with an experienced Texas lemon law attorney who can help protect and enforce your rights and get your money back.