Lemon Law in Ohio
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There are few things in life as frustrating as a new car that just doesn't work quite right. Fortunately, Ohio's Lemon Law can help take some of the sting out of that.
Is My Vehicle a Lemon?
To qualify as a lemon in Ohio, your new vehicle must have a major unresolved issue (or multiple issues) that seriously compromises its safety. Your vehicle (passenger car, light truck, or motorcycle) may be covered if any of the following apply:
- Your vehicle is less than 1 year old.
- The odometer has less than 18,000 miles on it.
Before proceeding with your lemon law case, you must give the dealer/manufacturer a reasonable opportunity to fix the issue under warranty. There must have been:
- At least 3 attempts to repair a single problem.
- A total of at least 30 days of repair time in the shop.
- At least 8 attempts to fix several problems.
- At least 1 attempt to repair an issue that could cause death or serious injury.
If you cannot work out a deal with the manufacturer out of court or through arbitration, you can file a civil suit as long as it is within 5 years of the purchase date.
Filing a Lemon Law Complaint
If any of the above points applies to your case, then you have the right to ask the manufacturer to either replace your vehicle with a new one, or to refund the entire purchase price.
Send a certified letter to the manufacturer. You'll have to detail the problems you've had with your vehicle, and what attempts were made to fix them. Make sure to include your vehicle identification number (VIN). Then, state which option you'd prefer, whether it's replacement or a refund.
Keep a copy of the letter for your records.
If the manufacturer is satisfied with your claim, it may yield to your request, and either refund the entire purchase price of the vehicle, or replace it with a new one.
Many times, though, the manufacturer will ask to be given another attempt at fixing your vehicle. That's up to you. It may try to negotiate an agreement with you.
Or, the manufacturer may disagree with your claim. If so, either the manufacturer or the dealer should let you know whether there is an arbitration program available.
The Arbitration Process
Arbitration is when a neutral third party listens to both sides, and makes a decision based on the evidence presented.
Most manufacturers already have some sort of arbitration program. Some of these have been approved by the Attorney General. If your vehicle's manufacturer is on the approved list, you'll have to go through arbitration before you can file a lawsuit.
Although arbitration is quicker than going through the court process, it usually will still take several weeks for your hearing to begin. You don't need to have an attorney, but consulting one is likely a good idea, as this process can be confusing and overwhelming. It can be difficult for a consumer to win an arbitration that forces the manufacturer to refund the purchase price. And, although the state has safeguards in place to try to insure fairness, know that most arbitration systems are funded by the manufacturers.
Most of the time the arbitration takes place via a telephone conference call between all of the parties involved. Keep in mind that if you don't agree with the verdict, you do not have to accept it, and may proceed to the next step.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you choose to, you may then file a civil suit against the manufacturer. You can include attorney fees, too. This needs to be done within 5 years of the purchase date.
Although the state offers you protection, you'll need to take some responsibility, too.
Make sure you keep an accurate record of each time you take your vehicle in for repair, or to have routine maintenance done. Follow the manufacturer's maintenance requirements closely, as the manufacturer may try to show that you haven't taken proper care of your vehicle.
Also, keep all of the warranty and repair orders. Check to make sure all of the work done has been itemized on the order.
And, get a log of your vehicle's problems and defects. If you need to go back to have a problem fixed, make sure to describe it the same way when you go back.
Hiring an Ohio Lemon Law Attorney
If the car manufacturer has declined a request for compensation on your lemon vehicle, you may need a lemon law attorney to guide you through the next steps of the process.
You'll want to hire an attorney who:
- Offers broad expertise in Ohio lemon law.
- Each state has its own lemon laws, so you'll want to hire someone who understands all the key details of the law in Ohio.
- Can prove a high rate of success.
- Has a great reputation in the community.
- Try searching your lawyer's name online to read what others are saying.
Lemon law attorneys can help in a number of ways, such as:
- Helping you understand OH lemon laws and consumer rights.
- Using negotiation skills in talks with the car manufacturer.
- Representing you in court, if the manufacturer refuses to settle.
OH Lemon Law Attorney Advice
Dealing with a lemon can be a very complicated process. You may need to speak with an experienced lawyer to figure out exactly how the lemon law applies to your case.
A lemon law attorney will be able to explain:
- How to deal with a difficult car dealer or manufacturer.
- What outcome you can expect in your lemon law case.
- The documentation you'll need to have for your trial.
Contact InformationConsumer Protection Section
30 E. Broad St., 14th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Consumer Protection Line: (800) 282-0515