Could the Virginia lemon law help you resolve your car issue?If you have purchased or leased a vehicle that is defective, understanding if the lemon law of Virginia applies to you could be the first step toward obtaining compensation. The term lemon law refers to statutes for consumer products that are defective or despite numerous repairs, do not function.
The VA lemon law has been enacted in order to protect consumers. Each state has specific laws regarding if a car qualifies as a lemon. Below you’ll find a summary of the Virginia lemon law, what you should do if you think your car is a lemon, and lemon law resources.
One of the most important things to consider regarding whether the
lemon law applies to your case is whether your car is new vs. used.
Most lemon law state statutes, including Virginia’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. Because Virginia 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 VA lemon law. In order for your car to qualify under the lemon law, your vehicle must meet these conditions:
• Vehicles must be passenger cars, pickups, panel trucks, motorcycles, self-propelled motorized chassis of motor homes, mopeds, demonstrators and lease-purchased vehicles used in substantial part for personal, family or household purposes.
• In order to qualify, the vehicle must have had a minimum of 3 repair attempts or 30 calendar days out of service, or 1 serious safety defect, one repair attempt.
• The coverage period is 18 months.
If the above conditions apply to your situation with your purchased or leased vehicle and the dealer/manufacturer is unable to correct the problem, under the VA lemon law the dealer/manufacturer must:
• Replace the motor vehicle with a comparable motor vehicle acceptable to the consumer, or
• Accept return of the motor vehicle and refund to the consumer and any lienholder as their interest may appear the full purchase price, including all collateral charges, incidental damages, less a reasonable allowance for the consumer's use of the vehicle up to the date of the first notice of nonconformity that is given to the manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealer.
• The consumer shall have the unconditional right to choose a refund rather than a replacement vehicle and to drive the motor vehicle until he receives either the replacement vehicle or the refund.
First, if you want to file a lemon law claim, you’ll need to keep accurate records. Keep detailed accounts of all problems, repairs performed, and the number of days 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 keep track 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 Virginia lemon law, you must contact the dealer in writing to fix the vehicle and that you feel your car qualifies as a lemon. If the problem is not resolved, 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 VA 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, having a lemon law attorney review your case may be a good option.
If it appears that your case does not qualify under the VA lemon law, there may be another option. A potential option is the federal lemon law. This statute is called the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. The federal lemon law falls under the breach of warranty (BOW) statute. Compensation under this act is different than under than VA 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 Virginia lemon law applies to your situation, a lemon law attorney can be consulted at no cost to you to review your case and determine if the federal lemon law applies to your case.
If you have specific questions regarding the VA lemon law, you can also contact the Office of Consumer Affairs at the following address:
Office of the Attorney General
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
1-800-451-1525 (Toll free in VA only)
(804) 786-2071 (Richmond & outside VA)
You can also visit their website at:
Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs
The Better Business Bureau also has a printable summary of the VA lemon law:
BBB Lemon Law State Statutes