Texas Lemon Law
Beat the new car blues
The Texas Lemon Law is an administrative proceeding of the Texas Transportations Department. While it is relatively fast and low cost it does not provide much relief for consumers. According to Board Certified Attorney Mark Aschermann, who has represented a number of consumers in Texas Lemon Law hearings, here’s why:
1. Opportunity to Cure. This is the chance for the MANUFACTURER to fix the problem. For instance, you must notify SUV Motor Company in Detroit about the problems with your vehicle and allow them the CHANCE to fix the vehicle. For an extreme example, the twenty times that you took the vehicle to the SUV dealer do not count as you still have to notify the manufacturer about the problem and give the Manufacturer a 21st chance to fix the vehicle before you can succeed at a Lemon Law Hearing. Rest assured that if you fail to provide this notice the Manufacturer will demand that it be given the chance to repair your vehicle and/or it may ask that your Lemon Law case be dismissed.
2. Demonstrate the Problem to a Lemon Law Judge. The critical part of a Lemon Law hearing is the test drive of the vehicle by the Administrative Judge. Although it is not stated in the Rules, it has been my experience that if the problem cannot be demonstrated to the Judge in the test drive you are almost assured to lose. Intermittent problems (for example computer modules, rough starting and warning lights) are very difficult to demonstrate. Also, if your repair tickets state “No Problem Found”, “Cannot Duplicate Customer Concern” or some similar statement, you are facing a very difficult case. Because if the trained technician cannot duplicate your problem at the shop, how will you do so at the hearing? Other types of defects, such as water leaks can be difficult problems. For instance, how do you demonstrate the leak at the Lemon Law hearing on a sunny cloudless day?
3. Perspective. Many consumers don’t complain until they reach a certain level of frustration and aggravation. Sometimes, having to face the problem vehicle every day causes an otherwise reasonable person to lose their cool. This may cause that person to explode about the 2 cosmetic flaws of the vehicle and ignore the defective and potentially unsafe engine. Rank your problems and ask a friend to give you feedback because the lack of perspective can contribute to a bad outcome.
4. Unsuitable Remedies. The Texas Lemon Law only has three remedies:
a) Buyback. The Manufacturer must buy the vehicle from the consumer at a price determined by the Lemon Law formula. This may be good for low mileage cars but it may be almost nothing if your vehicle has 30,000 or more miles as of the buyback. (remember that the finance company gets paid first!). Also, this remedy is not available if you bought the vehicle as a used vehicle, even if it had remaining factory warranty;
b) Replacement. This sounds much better than it is. Essentially this is trading your vehicle for a newer model from the same manufacturer. You will have to pay for your use of the vehicle so the more miles you have driven, the more money you will have to pay. The more miles you have driven your vehicle, the less attractive is this option; and
c) Repair. The Lemon Law Commission can order the Manufacturer to repair the vehicle. Absent a lack of Opportunity to Cure (see above) or a fervent request by the manufacturer to order the repair, this rarely happens. Which is fortunate because almost NO ONE is happy when this happens.
d) Monetary Award. The Lemon Law Judge can only order limited monetary damages. These are usually reimbursements for repairs the consumer paid for that should have been covered by warranty, occasional towing or travel charges if stranded, rental car costs, and mailing, phone or delivery expenses related to pursuing the Lemon Law claim.
The bottom line is that the Lemon Law works best for a vehicle with low miles and a defect that can be easily demonstrated by the consumer but not fixed by the Manufacturer. You may have a truly defective vehicle that does not fit within this narrow definition. If so, click the Bad Cars ( https://texaslemonlawyer.com/default.aspx/MenuItemID/203.htm ) button on the front page to learn about other remedies. Read on to learn more about these.