Lemon Law in Maine
When you buy a new car or truck, a big reason you're making the investment is for the satisfaction of driving a car where everything works smoothly and is expected to stay that way for a while. But what if things don't work smoothly? What if things are so bad with your new car that you need a replacement?
This is where Maine's Lemon Law comes in. The Lemon Law protects consumers by offering binding arbitration on consumer disputes with car dealers.
Maine's Lemon Law
The lemon law in Maine covers vehicles up to 3 years after the date you received it OR within 18,000 miles driven, including:
- New vehicles.
- Used vehicles.
To qualify as a lemon, your vehicle must have a problem that still exists after:
- At least 3 attempts to repair it.
- At least 1 attempt to repair a safety issue, such as a steering or brake problem.
- At least 15 business days in a repair shop to fix the fault.
Maine's Lemon Law does not cover defects that:
- Don't "substantially impair" the vehicle's use, value, or safety.
- Are caused by the owner's negligence.
- Result from an accident or vandalism.
- Result from unauthorized repair or alteration by someone other than the manufacturer, its agents, or its authorized dealers.
How to File a Lemon Law Claim in ME
If your vehicle meets the above qualifications, the process goes like this:
- Obtain repair records from the dealer for each repair.
- Contact the State Lemon Law Arbitration Program for a Lemon Law Application and Final Opportunity to Repair notice. To do so, write or call the following:
- Lemon Law Arbitration Program
- Office of the Attorney General
- Consumer Protection Division
- 6 State House Station
- Augusta, ME 04333
- (207) 626-8848 or (800) 436-2131 (toll-free in Maine only)
- Send written notice (Final Opportunity to Repair Notice) to the manufacturer by certified mail with a return receipt. This notifies the manufacturer that you're applying for Lemon Law arbitration and that you are giving them a final opportunity to repair the problems. A form letter for this purpose will be sent to you with the application.
- Allow the manufacturer at least 7 business days after receipt of your Final Opportunity to Repair letter to make the necessary repair. (You may withdraw your vehicle after 7 business days.)
- If the defect(s) were not corrected by the final repair attempt, or if the defect recurs and you want an arbitration hearing, do not repair the vehicle―it's your evidence. File your Lemon Law application as soon as possible.
- You must prove to an arbitrator that you have conformed to all of the above requirements, including:
- You have attempted to repair the defect before 3 years or 18,000 miles.
- The defect is substantial and impairs the vehicle's use, safety, or value.
- The defect still exists and has not been corrected.
- The manufacturer has been given adequate opportunity to repair the vehicle.
- The manufacturer has been given a Final Opportunity to Repair notice.
If You Win Arbitration
If the arbirator determines that your vehicle is a lemon, the manufacturer must offer you a refund or a replacement vehicle. If the replacement vehicle isn't acceptable to you, you may reject it and ask for a refund instead. However, if the manufacturer offers you a refund, you can't reject it in favor of a replacement.
If you opt for a refund, you'll get back the full price―minus a "reasonable allowance" for the miles you did get out of the car. If the car is a lease, you'll get a refund of your down payment, any trade-in allowance, and the total of lease payments you've made so far.
If the manufacturer issues a refund, you will be reimbursed for the following costs:
- The total purchase price before you subtracted any rebates or deposits or your trade-in allowance. If you leased the vehicle, you'll get back the lease payments made to date. Included in the full purchase price are the costs of all dealer-added options or services (radio, air conditioning, and so forth).
- Sales tax, document fees, title and arbitration fees, and registration fees.
- Interest paid on vehicle financing.
- The costs you incurred for towing the vehicle, storing it, or arranging for alternative transport while your wheels were out of service or in for repairs.
- Expert witness fees.
The following are not reimbursable if you win your claim: attorney's fees, time off work, other consequential damages, excise taxes, extended warranties, or rebates.
If You Lose Arbitration
If you lose your Lemon Law arbitration claim, you can appeal to the superior court within 21 days of the decision. You can also invoke the vehicle manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedure.
Hiring a ME Lemon Law Attorney
You may decide to hire a Maine lemon law attorney to represent you in a lemon law dispute. Maine's lemon law can be complex, and a lawyer's expertise can be valuable.
Choosing a lemon law attorney can be difficult, especially if you've never hired a lawyer before.
To find lemon law lawyers that meet your needs, you can start by:
- Looking for lawyers with lemon law experience. Hiring a lawyer familiar with Maine's lemon law means they're likely to have a deeper understanding of the laws and processes.
- Asking for references. Find out if anyone you know has worked with or knows any lemon law attorneys they recommend.
- Booking a consultation. Meet with a few lemon law attorneys face to face to talk with them about their experience and background.
- Agreeing on fees. Ask potential lawyers what they charge and when they require payment.
Selecting the right lemon law attorney can give you confidence that your case will be handled in the best way possible.
Benefits of Lemon Law Attorneys
If you've been through the arbitration process and the manufacturer still refuses to refund or replace your vehicle, a lawyer can advise you on your next course of action.
Like many laws, the lemon law in Maine can be complex, with exceptions and limitations that may not be obvious or clear to someone without experience.
Attorneys with knowledge and experience in navigating the ME lemon law and can be a significant advantage to your case.
Consumer laws can be long and complicated. The attorney general's online Consumer Law Guide contains an entire chapter about Maine's Lemon Law that covers all the ins and outs in great detail.