Could the Maryland lemon law help you resolve your car issue? If you have purchased or leased a new defective vehicle, understanding if the lemon law in Maryland applies to you could be the first step toward obtaining compensation. The term lemon law refers to consumer products that do not function as promised, despite numerous repairs.
The lemon law in Maryland has been enacted in order to protect consumers from defective products. States have different statutes regarding if a vehicle qualifies as a lemon. Below you’ll find a summary of the Maryland lemon law, what you should do if you think your car is a lemon, and lemon law resources.
One of the first things to consider as to whether Maryland’s lemon law applies to your case is whether your vehicle is new vs. used. A majority of lemon law state statutes, including Maryland's, apply only to new cars. However, some states do have provisions under their used car lemon laws.
The issue is specifically linked to your vehicle’s warranty. New cars are sold with vehicle warranties that specify coverage for a specified number of miles or months. It is under the umbrella of this warranty that the lemon law generally applies. For used cars sold by dealers with warranties, coverage under the state’s lemon law may apply. If your state does not have specified lemon laws for used cars and you purchased your used car with a warranty, federal lemon laws may apply.
The following are the key aspects of the lemon laws of Maryland. In order for your car to qualify under the lemon law, your vehicle must meet these conditions:
• The law covers Purchased or leased passenger vehicles, trucks with a ton or less rated capacity, and multi-purpose vehicles registered in Maryland, excluding fleets of 5 or more motor vehicles and excluding motor homes as defined under the Motor Vehicle Administration Regulations.
• In order to qualify, your vehicle must have had a minimum of at least 1 unsuccessful repair of braking or steering system failure, 4 repair attempts or 30 days out of service.
• The coverage period is 24 months or 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
If the above conditions apply to your situation and your purchased vehicle, under the Maryland lemon laws the manufacture or dealer is required to
• Replace the motor vehicle with a comparable motor vehicle acceptable to the consumer; or
• Accept return of the motor vehicle from the consumer and refund to the consumer the full purchase price including all license fees, registration fees, and any similar governmental charges, less:
• A reasonable allowance for the consumer's use of the vehicle not to exceed 15 percent of the purchase price; and A reasonable allowance for damage not attributable to normal wear but not to include damage resulting from a nonconformity, defect, or condition.
First, one of the most important steps if you want to consider making a lemon law claim is to keep accurate records. Keep detailed records of all problems, repairs performed, and the amount of time your car is not available for your use while the repairs are being made. Without these documents, proving that your car qualifies as a lemon will be a challenge. If you did not collect documents when problems first arose, ask the dealer for the repair records as the dealer is required to provide this information to you.
To help you organize your documentation, click on this link for a repair log: Lemon Law Repair Log
Second, in order to potentially make a lemon law claim under the Maryland lemon law, you must communicate with the dealer attempting to fix the vehicle that you feel your car qualifies. If the dealer is not complying, contact the manufacturer directly, detailing the problem. When contacting the manufacturer, specifically ask for their procedure for making a lemon law claim. In the state of Arizona there are specific time line requirements during which communication must occur.
A final step you can take is to hire a lemon law attorney. Requesting a review or your case by a lemon law lawyer can help determine if you qualify as well as ensure that the requirements for communication are followed. The good news is that the attorney fees are generally free to the consumer. If an attorney who specializes in the Maryland lemon laws loses your case, they don’t get paid. If they win, the manufacturer pays the legal fees. Thus, if you do not feel like the dealer or manufacture has provided sufficient restitution, consulting a lemon law attorney can be worth the effort.
If your situation appears not to qualify under the Maryland lemon laws, there may be another option. A potential resource is the federal lemon law. This statute is called the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. In general it falls under the breach of warranty (BOW) theory. Restitution under this act is different than under than Maryland lemon laws. Instead of a refund for the defective vehicle, restitution is the difference between the Kelly blue book value of the car in excellent conditions vs. the value of the car in good or poor condition.
Again, if you are unclear if the Maryland lemon law applies to your situation, a lemon law attorney can be consulted at no cost to you to review your situation and determine if the federal lemon law applies to your case.
If you have specific questions regarding the lemon law in Maryland, you can also contact the Attorney General’s Office at the following address:
Office of the Attorney General
200 St. Paul Place
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: (410) 576-6300 or 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free in Maryland
For additional information including a complaint form and sample letters, visit their website at: Maryland Attorney General's Office
The Better Business Bureau also has a printable summary of the lemon law in Maryland: BBB Lemon Law State Statutes