If you have purchased a defective automobile, understanding if the Tennessee lemon law applies to you could be the first step toward obtaining compensation. The term lemon law refers to consumer products that are defective or despite numerous repairs, does not function.
Lemon laws have been enacted in order to protect consumers. Each state has different laws regarding if a car qualifies as a lemon. Below you’ll find a summary of the Tennessee 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 your state’s lemon law applies to your case is whether your car is new vs. used. A majority of lemon law state statutes apply only to new cars, including Tennessee’s. 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. Because Tennessee does not have specified lemon laws for used cars if you purchased your used car with a warranty, federal lemon laws may apply.
The following are the key aspects of the Tennessee's lemon laws. In order for your vehicle to qualify your vehicle must meet these conditions:
• Vehicles covered include class "C" vehicles sold and required to be registered in the state, used for personal, family or household purposes, including leased vehicles, excluding motor homes, motor and garden tractors, RVs, off-road vehicles, motorized bicycles, and vehicles over 10,000 lbs.
• In order to qualify, your vehicle must have had a minimum of 4 repair attempts - 30 calendar days out of service.
• The coverage period is the express warranty period or 1 year, whichever occurs first.
If the above conditions apply to your situation and your purchased vehicle, under the Tennessee lemon laws the manufacture or dealer is required to:
• Replace the 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.
First, if you are considering making a lemon law claim, you’ll need to keep accurate records. Keep 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 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. The good news is that the attorney fees are generally free to the consumer. If an attorney who specializes in the TN 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, hiring a lemon law attorney is definitely worth the effort.
If your situation appears not to qualify under the Tennessee 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. Compensation under this act is different than under than Tennessee 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. good or poor condition.
Again, if you are unclear if the lemon law of Tennessee applies to your situation, a lemon law attorney can be hired 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 Tennessee lemon laws, you can also contact the Attorney General’s Office at the following address:
Office of the Attorney General and Reporter
P.O. Box 20207
Nashville, TN 37202-0207
Telephone: (615) 741-3491
You can also visit their website at: Tennessee Attorney General's Office
The Better Business Bureau also has a printable summary of the state lemon laws: BBB Lemon Law State Statutes