Lemon Law in Vermont
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The state's Lemon Law, as described in Chapter 115 of the Vermont Statutes, is designed to protect you from being stuck with a new vehicle that is defective. In a nutshell, if you buy a new car that has persistent problems during the warranty period that the dealer's repair shop just can't fix, you might be entitled for a refund or a replacement car from the manufacturer.
The State of Vermont arbitrates this process through the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you suspect you have been saddled with a dud, you can test the power of the Lemon Law by filling out a Demand for Arbitration form and filing it with the DMV's Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board. You'll also send a copy to the manufacturer of your vehicle.
But before reaching this point, make sure you qualify for Lemon Law protection. If you file a Demand for Arbitration because your car once needed a jump-start, for example, the DMV will not hear your case.
It is only after your vehicle has endured three unsuccessful repair attempts or has been in the shop for a total of 30 days within the manufacturer's express warranty period that the Lemon Law will help you.
If the third repair attempt fails, the burden rests on you to prove to the Arbitration Board that your vehicle's problem handicaps its road performance, plummets its market value, or is a safety hazard.
If the Arbitration Board rules in your favor, it holds the power to award you either a prorated refund or a comparable new replacement vehicle. But just because your case reaches the board does not guarantee it will end in your favor. There is always the chance the board could side with the manufacturer or even dismiss the case.
The DMV conveniently provides a list of forms and worksheets to assist your process. Read these documents carefully (especially the repair history worksheets), as they will guide you as you begin to gather paperwork documenting your case. Keep all repair receipts and any correspondence with your dealer or the manufacturer.
All forms, including the Demand for Arbitration, must be mailed to:
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- New Motor Vehicle Arbitration
- 120 State St.
- Montpelier, VT 05603-0001
Keep in Mind
The Arbitration Board will not hear your argument if your vehicle was purchased out of state. The auto also must be registered in Vermont. If your object of dispute is a truck, its gross vehicle weight (GVW) must fall under 12,000 pounds for it to be considered. And―this is important―all claims must be filed within one year of your vehicle's warranty expiring.
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