Could the Minnesota lemon law help you resolve your car issue? If you have purchased or leased a defective new vehicle, understanding if the lemon law of Minnesota applies to you could be the first step toward obtaining compensation. The term lemon law refers to consumer products that are defective or do not function, even after numerous repair attempts.
The MN lemon law has been enacted to protect consumers from such defective or faulty products. Different states have different laws pertaining to if a car qualifies as a lemon. Below you’ll find a summary of the MN lemon law, what you should do if you think your car is a lemon, and lemon law resources.
One of the main things to consider as to whether Minnesota’s lemon law applies to your case is whether your vehicle is new vs. used. A majority of lemon law state statutes apply only to new cars. However, some states do have provisions under their lemon laws for used cars.
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 MN lemon law. In order for your vehicle to qualify under the lemon law, the following conditions must be met:
• Vehicles covered under the law include passenger automobiles, pickup trucks, vans and recreational equipment, chassis, sold or leased to a consumer in this state, used at least 40% for personal, family or household purposes.
• In order to qualify, the vehicle must have a minimum of 1 unsuccessful repair of a completely failed braking or steering system likely to cause death or substantial bodily injury, 4 attempts or 30 business days out of service for other defects.
• The coverage period is the express warranty period or 2 years, whichever occurs first.
If the above conditions are met, under the MN lemon law the manufacture or dealer is required to do the following:
• The manufacturer shall either replace the new motor vehicle with a comparable motor vehicle or accept return of the vehicle from the consumer and refund to the consumer the full purchase price, including the cost of any options or other modifications arranged, installed, or made by the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer within 30 days after the date of original delivery.
• A consumer who leases a new motor vehicle has the same rights against the manufacturer as a consumer who purchases a new motor vehicle, except that, if it is determined that the manufacturer must accept return of the consumer's leased vehicle then the consumer lessee is not entitled to a replacement vehicle, but is entitled to a refund.
First, if you want to make a lemon law claim, you’ll need to gather all records associated with the vehicle. Gather detailed records of all problems, repairs performed, and the amount of time your car is unavailable while 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.
To help you organize your documentation, click on this link for a repair log: Lemon Law Repair Log
Second, in order to potentially invoke the Minnesota 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.
A final step you can take is to hire a lemon law attorney. Although it may sound expensive the good news is that the attorney fees are typically free to the consumer. If an attorney who specializes in the MN lemon law 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, contacting a lemon law attorney to review your case is definitely worth the effort.
If your situation appears not to qualify under the MN lemon law, 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 the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act is different than under than MN lemon law. 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. good or poor condition. Again, if you are unclear if the Minnesota lemon law applies to your situation, a lemon law attorney can be hired at no cost to you to determine if the federal lemon law applies to your case.
If you have specific questions regarding the Minnesota lemon law, you can also contact the Attorney General’s Office at the following address:
Minnesota Attorney General's Office
1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
You can also visit their website at: Minnesota Attorney General's Office
The Better Business Bureau also has a printable summary of the MN lemon law: BBB Lemon Law State Statutes