Do you have a car issue that the Maryland Lemon Law could help you to resolve? If you have recently leased or bought a new or used vehicle and found it defective, an understanding of the Lemon Law as it applies in Maryland is an important step in obtaining compensation. Lemon Law is a term that refers to a consumer product that does not function as advertised, despite undergoing numerous repairs.
The law was enacted by Maryland as a way of protecting consumers in the state from defective products. Various states across the US have different definitions of vehicles that are considered as lemons. In this article, we summarize the Maryland Lemon Law and explain the steps you should take if you think you have purchased a lemon.
How the Law Applies to New Vehicles vs. Used Cars
The first thing you should consider when trying to find out if the Maryland Lemon Law is applicable to you is whether you have purchased a new or used car. This is because most of the state’s Lemon Law statutes only apply in the case of new vehicles. However, there are some provisions in the Lemon Law which cover used cars.
The issue specifically relates to the vehicle’s warranty. New vehicles are sold with warranties which specify cover for a specific number of months or miles. The Lemon Law then applies under the umbrella of this warranty. If you buy a used car that is covered by a warranty, the statutes of the Maryland Lemon Law may also apply.
Maryland Lemon Law in Summary
Below are the main aspects of the Maryland Lemon Law. If your car is to qualify for protection under this law, it should meet this list of conditions:
- The Lemon Law covers purchased or leased trucks under one ton in rated capacity, passenger cars as well as multi-purpose vehiclesthat have been registered in Maryland. This excludes fleets with more than 5 vehicles and also excludes motor homes as they are defined in the Motor Vehicle Administration Regulations.
- To qualify under the law, your car must have undergone at least 1 unsuccessful attempt at repair of its steering system or brakes, 4 general repair attempts or have been at least 30 days out of service.
- The cover period is 18,000 miles or 24 months, whichever occurs first.
If the conditions outlined above are applicable to your situation and your vehicle qualifies as a lemon, the laws require the dealer or manufacture to address the issue in one of the following ways:
- Replace your defective vehicle with a similar motor vehicle that you find acceptable; or
- Accept the return of the vehicle from you and offer you a refund of the full purchase price you paid including all registration fees, license fees and any other government charges, less:
- Reasonable allowance that takes into account your use of the vehicle that is not more than 15 percent of the vehicle’s purchase price; and
- Reasonable allowance that takes into account any damage that cannot be attributed to ordinary wear and tear.
Steps You Should Take If You Believe Your Vehicle Is a Lemon
First of all, the most important step you should take if you are considering making a claim under the Maryland Lemon Law is to keep accurate and updated records. Always keep records of all issues with the vehicle, the repairs performed, as well as how long you have been unable to use your car as the repairs were being attempted. If you do not have this record, it will be difficult to prove that your vehicle qualifies as a lemon. If you did not collect the necessary documents when issues first arose, you should ask your dealer for repair records, since they are required to keep them.
Second, if you are looking to file a claim under the Lemon law, it is a must that you inform the dealer who is trying to fix the car’s problems that you believe your vehicle qualifies under this law. If your dealer fails to comply, you may then detail the problem directly to the car’s manufacturer. When you contact the manufacturer, remember to specifically ask what their procedures are for Lemon Law claims.
The final step that you must take is to hire an attorney who has experience in Lemon Law claims. Requesting a lawyer to review the details of your case will not only determine if your vehicle qualifies, but will also ensure that you adhere to all the communication requirements. The good news is Lemon Law attorney fees are not borne by the consumer. If your lawyer loses the case, they do not get paid, and if they win, the legal fees are paid by the manufacturer.
A car is a major investment, and the promise of its safety and dependability is often the reason you choose one vehicle over another. You should therefore expect to purchase a vehicle that is properly constructed and offers safe and trouble free operation. However, these principles do not always apply, and defects may sometimes be found in automobiles. While a single defect may not be actionable, repeated problems with your car and several unsuccessful attempts at repair may render your vehicle’s warrantor liable under the Maryland Lemon Law.