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  • Lemon Law in Wisconsin

    Wisconsin's Lemon Law

    Wisconsin's Lemon Law defines "lemons" as:

    • 1 year old or less and still under warranty.
    • Has a serious defect the dealer can't fix in fixed in 4 attempts.
    • Has one or many defects that prevent you from using it for 30 days of non-consecutive driving.

    In addition, they have different rules for vehicles purchase BEFORE and AFTER March 1, 2014.

    WI Lemon Law Eligibility and Deadlines

    For vehicles purchased BEFORE March 1, 2014: There are no deadlines for filing a lemon law claim, it is up to the court to decide if your case were too old. (6 years is often the length of time referenced in court and the time starts the moment you take delivery of the vehicle.)

    For vehicles purchased AFTER March 1, 2014: The Lemon Law includes a 3 year window for filing a Lemon Law claim and the time frame STARTS when you first take delivery of the vehicle.

    About Lemon Law Vehicle Coverage

    For both BEFORE and AFTER:

    To meet the Lemon Law criteria, defects (or a nonconformity) must seriously affect the use, value or safety of your car or vehicle and the defects must be covered by the warranty.

    What is not covered are conditions or defects caused by the consumer including abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification or alteration of the motor vehicle.

    Heavy duty vehicles purchased after March 1, 2014 and qualify with the statements made above, but have a gross vehicle weight rating or actual gross weight of more than 10,000 lbs., are treated differently under the law. A person can lose the benefits of the lemon law for such vehicles if that person enters into a negotiated written settlement with the manufacturer.

    (You may need to contact a qualified lawyer if you have a vehicle that may qualify as a “lemon” under the law. It is especially important for owners of heavy duty vehicles who are involved in any type of settlement process.)

    Types of Vehicles Covered & Exempt

    The follow ARE COVERED under the Wisconsin Lemon Laws:

  • Any new car, truck, motorcycle or motor home, or other motor-driven vehicle that has been purchased, leased or transferred to a resident in Wisconsin. These vehicles could include demonstrator or executive-driven vehicles.
  • The follow are NOT COVERED under the Wisconsin Lemon Laws:

    • Vehicles purchased in another state.
    • Vehicles purchased through the internet and delivered outside Wisconsin.
    • Mopeds.
    • Semitrailers.
    • Trailers designed for use in combination with a truck or a truck tractor.

    Lemon Law Claims

    Vehicles Purchased BEFORE March 1, 2014

    • Check the recall list to see if the vehicle has been subject to a recall. This might solve a lot of your issues. If your vehicle hasn't been recalled, you'll need to take the following steps.
    • Get a Repair Order every time you take your car in for repairs.
      • When taking your vehicle in for repair, make sure you give the dealer a Motor Vehicle Lemon Law Claim (Form MV2694) and have them sign it. This is your proof that you provided the form.
      • Do this even if the dealership service department doesn't diagnose the problem or attempt a repair; make sure you get a repair order.
    • Keep repair orders somewhere that they won’t get lost, and preferably not in your car.
    • Keep all purchase contracts, warranties, and repair orders to prove your vehicle is a lemon.

    How to File a Claim

    Use the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's (WisDOT) Motor Vehicle Lemon Law Claim (Form MV2694) to ask the manufacturer for a refund or replacement vehicle. The state of Wisconsin recommends you send by certified mail:

    • The Motor Vehicle Lemon Law Claim form.
    • All dealership repair orders.
    • A cover letter detailing your situation to the manufacturer’s address listed in your owner’s manual.

    The manufacturer has 30 days to respond.

    Your refund should include:

    • The full purchase price.
    • Sales tax.
    • Any finance charge.
    • Collateral costs (for example, repairs, towing, alternative transportation) minus the mileage/use deduction allowed by law.

    If you get a replacement vehicle, the manufacturer should also refund your collateral costs and charge nothing for mileage.

    If you leased the vehicle, you should be refunded all amounts you paid under the written lease plus any sales tax and collateral costs. Reasonable allowance for mileage/use will be deducted.

    If you don't get a refund or replacement by writing the manufacturer, and if your manufacturer has a certified arbitration program with WisDOT, you must use it before you sue under the Lemon Law.

    If your manufacturer's program is not certified, you can proceed with a law suit and let the court decide if your vehicle is a lemon and what settlement you deserve.

    Vehicles Purchased AFTER March 1, 2014

    • When taking your car in for repair, have the dealer sign the Vehicle Repair Request/Nonconformity Report (Form MV2692). This is important because if you do file a claim, you are required to provide this form.
    • Keep your records stored in a safe place, preferably not your car.
    • Keep records of any purchase contracts, warranties, and the records described above to prove you have a lemon.

    How To File a Claim

    Along with your Motor Vehicle Lemon Law Notice and Nonconformity Report (Form MV2691), you must also include:

    If you request a refund, you must offer the manufacturer to transfer title of the motor vehicle (this offer is included in the language of the Wisconsin DMV Form MV2691).

    The manufacturer then has 30 days to pay it. Your refund should include:

    • The full purchase price.
    • Sales tax.
    • Any finance charge.
    • Collateral costs (for example, repairs, towing, alternative transportation), minus the mileage/use deduction allowed by law.

    When the manufacturer provides the refund, you must prepared to provide to the manufacturer:

    • The motor vehicle having the nonconformity.
    • The certificate of title.
    • All endorsements necessary to transfer the title to the manufacturer.

    If you request a comparable new motor vehicle, the manufacturer has 30 days after receiving the Motor Vehicle Lemon Law Notice and Nonconformity Report (Form MV2691) to agree in writing to provide you with a comparable new vehicle and refund any collateral costs (and charge nothing for mileage/use) OR a refund of the full purchase price plus any sales tax, finance charge, amount paid by the consumer at the point of sale, and collateral costs.

    The manufacturer then has up to 45 days after receiving the paperwork to either provide the comparable new motor vehicle or the refund. This period is required to allow the manufacturer due diligence in locating and providing a comparable new vehicle.

    NOTE: If the manufacturer cannot find a comparable new vehicle within this 45 day period, the manufacturer still has the right to provide you with a refund instead.

    Arbitration Programs

    You can find a list of Arbitration Programs at the bottom of the the Wisconsin Lemon Law page.

    If you cannot reach an agreement with the manufacturer, whether you used arbitration or not, you may want to file a Lemon Law suit. If you do go to court, Wisconsin’s lemon law requires that the manufacturer pays your attorneys fees, unless you are unreasonable in dealing with the manufacturer or the fees are unreasonable.

    Heavy-Duty Vehicles

    The manufacturer has 30 days after receiving the Motor Vehicle Lemon Law Notice and Nonconformity Report (Form MV2691) to agree in writing to provide you with a comparable new vehicle and refund any collateral costs (and charge nothing for mileage/use) OR a refund of the full purchase price plus any sales tax, finance charge, amount paid by the consumer at the point of sale, and collateral costs.

    The manufacturer has 120 days after receiving the form to either provide you with the comparable new motor vehicle or, if a comparable new vehicle cannot be found, a refund.

    When a manufacturer provides you with a new motor vehicle, you will need to return the vehicle having the nonconformity to the manufacturer and provide the manufacturer with the certificate of title and all endorsements necessary to transfer title to the manufacturer.

    If you don't get a refund or replacement vehicle by writing the manufacturer, consider using your manufacturer's arbitration program. If your manufacturer has a program certified by WisDOT, you must use it before you can sue under the Lemon Law. If your manufacturer's program is not certified, you do not have to use it however, if you do use it and don’t like the decision, you can reject the decision.

    Keep Making Your Loan Payments

    The company that wrote that loan is entitled to the repayment of their money, regardless of what the vehicle turned out to be.

    If you find that you are paying not only the loan payment but also for taxi service, rides, a rental car, and other expenses, talk to someone at your loan company. Many lenders are able to assist by either putting a hold on the loan or allowing you to pay just the interest for a few months while the lemon gets sorted out. Again, hang on to receipts and make copies for the lender if requested.

    For more help with your vehicle and solving lemon law issues, you may contact:

    Wisconsin Department of Transportation
    Dealer & Agent Section
    4802 Sheboygan Ave., Room 201
    P.O. Box 7909
    Madison, WI 53707

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