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What You Need to Know About Vehicle Lemon Law Claims

Posted in Our Blog on March 14, 2023

“When life hands you lemons…” 

Yep, we’ve all heard funny jokes that start with these famous words. But, when a car dealership is handing out lemons, it’s no laughing matter. 

For instance, “when life hands you a lemon, you’re not supposed to drive away in it!” Words to live by.

A survey was completed by YourMechanic that revealed: “68 percent of lemon cars started to show signs and symptoms within one month of purchase.” The study also showed that “41 percent of lemon owners broke down while driving on the road,” according to findings published by PR Newswire.

There are lots of ways to spot problems with a vehicle. The easiest one perhaps is noticing that a brand-new car is leaking. No need for breadcrumbs or GPS to find the way home when it leaves a distinct trail. But, sometimes a buyer might not notice any “obvious” problems right away, or they might wonder if the problems would even qualify as a “lemon” under the law. 

What is The Vehicle Lemon Law in Louisiana?

If there is a major defect that puts a vehicle out of service and violates the manufacturer’s express warranty then the vehicle must be repaired to a good condition within a reasonable amount of time.

If for any reason the manufacturer is not able to repair the vehicle then the vehicle must be replaced with the exact type of vehicle or a similar vehicle. Meaning, if a car is to be replaced, a van or pickup truck would not be a suitable replacement. If a replacement is not possible, the dealership must accept the return and refund the purchase at the original price. 

The law is a little bit different in regard to new and used cars.

For instance, the lemon law would apply in Louisiana if any one of the following applied to the new car:

  1. A problem causes the vehicle to be out of service.
  2. The problem with the vehicle is specifically covered by the vehicle’s warranty.
  3. The issue occurred within the time frame stated in the lemon law.
  4. The vehicle was sold with the issues. This means that the buyer did not leave the lot and caused the problems to the vehicle. 

If the vehicle meets the definition of a lemon under Louisiana’s law, The dealership or the manufacturer has to be held responsible. One of the following things must take place:

  1. A reasonable amount of attempts must be given to repair the car. According to the law,  “reasonable” means four total attempts. Unless it’s a serious safety defect, then it is reduced to two attempts by federal law. 
  2. The vehicle should be repaired within a reasonable number of days. Reasonable in this case allows for 45 days. 
  3. The vehicle can be replaced with the same type of vehicle or one that is “substantially identical” to the vehicle that the buyer feels is satisfactory.  In the event that the replacement is not possible, the vehicle must be accepted as a return where the buyer is refunded the purchase price. This includes taxes and fees.

In the case of used cars, the Louisiana lemon law states that:

  1. The lemon law rules apply if the vehicle is still covered by the express manufacturer’s warranty.
  2. The defect or problem had been reported within 12 months after the original owner took possession.
  3. The defect did not occur because of misuse by the original owner. 

Who Can File a Vehicle Lemon Law Claim? 

Defects that substantially impair the use, value, or safety of a vehicle might mean that the lemon law can protect the consumer. Warranty coverage is also a factor as indicated above.

The law can protect any consumer that buys a vehicle for: 

  • Personal
  • Family
  • Private
  • Public 
  • Commercial 
  • Work-related uses.

Personal watercraft and all-terrain vehicles are also covered by the lemon law. However, the law does not extend to commercial vehicles of this type. All chassis and drivetrains found in motor homes that are sold in Louisiana are also covered.

One condition to remember is that whatever the vehicle, it had to have been purchased in the state of Louisiana. 

Steps to File a Vehicle Lemon Law Claim 

In order to file a lemon law claim in the state of Louisiana, you must go through certain steps to make it successful. The first thing to do is to contact the manufacturer of the vehicle and try to solve the problem by fixing the defect.

This must be done by sending a certified letter after the vehicle has suffered a catastrophic failure or the third repair attempt has failed. Send it to the address that is usually located in the vehicle’s warranty paperwork envelope or the owner’s manual. 

Be sure to include these details:

  1. Buyer/Owner(s) name and contact information
  2. Vin Number
  3. Make, model, and year of the vehicle
  4. Dealership information 
  5. The date of purchase
  6. The problems with the vehicle 
  7. Proof of repair attempts (including copies of receipts and work orders)
  8. Permission for the final attempt to repair

The manufacturer is obligated to provide a reasonably accessible repair shop to complete their final attempt at making the necessary repairs– or, they must agree to either refund or replace the vehicle. However, if the manufacturer fails to repair the vehicle and refuses a refund or replacement arbitration is generally used as a next step. 

Once you have gone through arbitration (this is an informal dispute settlement process), a lawsuit may then be filed through the state.

Common Defects of a Lemon Vehicle

Lemon vehicles have problems that can’t be fixed and are serious enough to have a substantial impact on the safety, use or value of the vehicle. Some of the most common defects that would make a vehicle a lemon can include: 

  • problems with the brakes
  • power steering issues
  • cruise control malfunctions
  • Leaks in the fuel injection system
  • transmission failure
  • airbag defects
  • mold in the air conditioner vents or unit
  • seat belt failure
  • electrical problems
  • sudden and/or uncontrolled acceleration or deceleration 

If You Have Questions

Lemon Law

Louisiana lemon laws might sound complicated to some consumers but an experienced lawyer can help answer all of the questions that typically arise in these situations. The bottom line is that consumers don’t have to feel squeezed by the dealership if they have unexpectedly bought a lemon vehicle. The laws were put in place to protect the buyer from unsafe transportation. Contact the firm today at (504) 500-5000 or at our website to schedule an appointment.