A Defect Need Not Be Verified Each Time to Count under the Lemon Law


On your way to work, your car’s check engine light comes on.  You make an appointment with your local dealer to have the problem checked out.  But before you go to your appointment with the dealer, the check engine light goes off.  If you take the vehicle in for the appointment, will the repair visit still count under the Lemon Law even if the dealer does not verify or duplicate the problem?

Consumers frequently experience a variation on this scenario and wonder if unverified complaints still count under the Lemon Law.  While every state is different, a defect usually does not have to be verified every time you take your vehicle in for repair.   Many state Lemon Laws require that consumers present their vehicles for repair and do not necessarily require that repairs actually be performed.  These laws use language like “repair attempt” or “subject to repair,” suggesting that duplication of a problem is not required.  Therefore, repair visits where a mechanic reports “no problem found” still may count as repair attempts under the Lemon Law.

Such an interpretation of the Lemon Law makes sense because many automobile problems are intermittent.  Further, the repair efforts undertaken by a dealer/manufacturer are beyond the control of consumers.  If duplication of a problem were required, dealers/manufacturers could always say they couldn’t duplicate problems to avoid any liability under the Lemon Law.  Therefore, requiring duplication could give dealers/manufacturers a disincentive to verify automobile defects.  

However, it is difficult to pursue a claim under the Lemon Law if a problem is never verified.  While you could still argue that the dealer or manufacturer failed to adequately diagnose the problem, you would face a significant challenge in attempting to show that a vehicle is defective without any verification by a mechanic. 




3 Responses to “A Defect Need Not Be Verified Each Time to Count under the Lemon Law”

  1. Miss Mota Mouth Says:

    Really good advice! Doing the due diligence of documenting is so important. Do you find that it can be just any mechanic or is it better to have a dealership mechanic diagnose potential issues?

  2. Mark Romano Says:

    It is better to have a manufacturer authorized dealer’s mechanic verify the defective condition. If the dealer is unable to properly diagnose the problem any qualified mechanic can confirm that the defect exists. However, I would not have an outside mechanic perform any repairs to the vehicle because the manufacturer may claim that the outside mechanic caused damage to the vehicle which may not be cover under the warranty.

  3. Jason Jones Says:

    The best thing to do is have the manufacturer’s authorized repair facility diagnose the problem. This will leave out any question of unauthorized vehicle tampering by a 3rd party mechanic. If the authorized repair facility is unable to duplicate the problem then take it to another authorized repair facility of the same manufacturer. All authorized dealers of each manufacturer are required to repair a vehicle that has remaining factory warranty. However reluctant they may be if you did not purchase the car from their dealership; they are still required to do so. You may call the 800 customer service number in your owner’s manual if you are not being accepted for service at the dealership.

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