If you buy a new car in the state of Florida, you are protected under the Florida Auto Lemon Law. The Florida Lemon Law provides protection for the first 24 months after purchasing and taking delivery of your new vehicle.
Automobiles Eligible for Florida Lemon Law Protection
The Lemon Law applies to new vehicles, demonstrator cars (demo cars driven by a dealer’s salesman, executive or manager) and recreational vehicles, in the state of Florida. As a matter of fact, when you purchase or lease the car, the seller or lessor is supposed to give you the Consumer Guide to the Florida Lemon Law.” If they don’t, ask for it. If they don’t have it, you can get it by calling the Lemon Law Hotline at 1-800-321-5366.
The lemon law does not cover trucks over 10,000 pounds GVW, mopeds or motorcycles. It also does not pertain to the “living facilities” of a recreational vehicle. Living facilities are the parts of the RV used for living such as generator, furnace, plumbing systems and more. You should refer to the Lemon Law Guide for clarification if you are unsure what is or is not covered.
Maintain Accurate Repair Records
Diligent record keeping is your friend when it comes to filing a Lemon Law claim. Similar to an insurance claims, document everything. Document every phone conversation, email, and letter or in-office conversation.
When you bring your car in for repair, check the work order to make sure it properly describes the problem. Additionally double check the odometer reading on the work order and dates the vehicle was brought in for repair and the date you picked it up after the repairs were completed.
When Does the Florida Lemon Law Kick In?
If during the time the Lemon Law is in effect (24 months) you notice malfunctions, conditions or defects that prevent you from safely using the new vehicle, report it to the manufacturer or its representative (usually the car dealership where you purchased the vehicle). Remember, this only pertains to manufacturer defects. If you had an auto accident and wrapped your car around a tree and it never drove the same afterwards, do not file a Lemon Law claim.
If you keep bringing the car back to the dealership to fix the same problem three or more times, it’s time to notify the manufacturer. As indicated above, you can use the Defect Notification Form if you choose. After the manufacturer receives notification, they have 10 days to respond to the notification and direct you to a repair facility. They then have 10 days from the time of delivering the vehicle to the facility for repair to have it fixed.
Additionally, if because of the defect you continue to bring your car back to the dealership and it is in for repair in excess of 15 days (15 cumulative, not consecutive days), it’s time to notify the manufacturer via certified, express or registered mail. You can use the Defect Notification Form, but it’s not mandatory.
After the manufacturer receives the letter, an authorized representative has the chance to inspect and maybe repair the vehicle. If the vehicle is not repaired, you are eligible for either a replacement vehicle or refund if the auto has been in the shop for repair for 30 days or more (that’s why it’s so important to keep accurate records – Florida dealerships are aware of this).
Arbitration for the Not so Cut and Dry Cases
Not everything goes smoothly in the real world. If the manufacturer doesn’t fix the situation, offer a replacement vehicle or a refund and you believe they should, you have options. You can use one of the Florida certified arbitration programs to have a third party settle the dispute. You can either use the link or call the Lemon Law Hotline (1-800-321-5366) to get the “Request for Arbitration” form to start the arbitration.
If your case is approved to go in front of the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, they must schedule the hearing within 40 days. Once the case goes in front of the Board, the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board decides if the car is a lemon or not. If it is deemed a lemon, you get to choose whether you want a refund or replacement vehicle. You’re reimbursed for costs and charges related to the vehicle defect. The manufacturer has 40 days to comply after receiving the written decision.
If the Board rules in favor of the manufacturer, the case is dismissed. Your only alternative is to file an appeal with the circuit court within 30 days.
Florida Lemon Law Links:
Florida Used Car Information
- Florida Used Car Lemon Law
- Buying or Selling a Vehicle in Florida
- Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: How to Buy a Used Car
Non-Florida Specific Laws for Consumer Protection:
- FDIC: Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices
- FDIC: Consumer Credit Protection Act (Truth in Lending)
- The Office of Consumer Litigation: Federal Odometer Tampering Statutes