Lemon Law in Delaware
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Delaware’s lemon law extends to new passenger cars registered or purchased in Delaware. This excludes motorcycles and motorhomes.
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Keep reading to learn all there is to know about Delaware’s lemon law.
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What is a lemon law?
Lemon laws are laws designed to protect consumers from defective products that are the fault of the manufacturer, not the consumer. While the term “lemon” can refer to any product, it typically refers to automobiles, including cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
All fifty states and Washington D.C. have their own variation of lemon laws, including their own limitations and coverages.
They generally run similar legal processes, but certain details vary from state to state, so it’s important to learn how lemon laws in your state are different.
A vehicle is considered a lemon if it has a manufacturer’s defect that can’t be adequately repaired in a reasonable period of time. This time frame depends on the state.
If the vehicle can’t be fixed, the manufacturer, not the dealership, is required to buy the car back or provide a new vehicle so that the consumer isn’t stuck paying for a vehicle they can’t use.
Is there a lemon law in Delaware?
Yes, Delaware’s lemon law extends to new cars purchased or leased in Delaware, within one year of the delivery date.
Key Takeaway Mileage is not a factor in Delaware when determining if a car is a lemon.
Is my defect covered under the lemon law?
Delaware’s lemon law covers defects found in motor vehicles leased or purchased in the state that are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.
The state’s lemon law does not cover motorcycles or motor homes.
Your vehicle could be considered a lemon if it fits the following criteria:
- You’ve had to bring it in for repairs four or more times, or the defect cannot be repaired in less than thirty days
- Your vehicle’s problems are all caused by the same defect
- The defect was not caused by any neglect, abuse, or alterations on your part
- The defect is something that is covered under your vehicle’s express warranty
Any defect must be reported to the car’s manufacturer via written notice within either the terms of the warranty or a year of the vehicle’s delivery, whichever comes first.
Key Takeaway Delaware’s lemon law does not cover motorhomes or motorcycles.
Are used cars covered under the lemon law?
No, Delaware’s lemon law does not extend to used cars.
For this reason, be as diligent and thorough as possible when shopping for a used car. Test drive the car before you buy it.
Purchase a CARFAX report or look into the vehicle’s history, including any recalls for the make, model, and year. Have a mechanic evaluate it, if you can.
What about new cars? ||| New cars
Yes, new cars are covered under Delaware’s lemon law as long as any defects or nonconformities are reported to the manufacturer via written notice within one year after you take vehicle delivery, or within the vehicle’s warranty term, whichever expires first.
If your new car requires the same repair more than four times, or if it spends more than 30 days in the shop as a result of the same defect, then your car may be considered a lemon.
Keep in mind—if you have altered your vehicle in any way since you purchased it, it may no longer qualify for protection under lemon laws.
How to pursue your lemon law rights in Delaware
To qualify for the lemon law, a consumer must report any nonconformities to the manufacturer via written notification within the term of the warranty, or within a period of one year after the vehicle’s delivery to the consumer, whichever comes first.
Give the manufacturer enough attempts to fix the vehicle
The consumer must then give the manufacturer a reasonable number of attempts to fix the vehicle, which means four attempts in Delaware. The lemon law can also apply if the vehicle is out of service for repairs for more than 30 calendar days.
Keep good records
Keep the invoice and all other documents you receive for repairs done. If the manufacturer is unsuccessful in its repair attempts, it is strongly advised that you consult an attorney before taking the next step.
Arbitration with the manufacturer
At this point, you can engage the manufacturer’s informal dispute settlement program, or ‘arbitration.’
Arbitration in Delaware is only required if the manufacturer has an informal dispute settlement program that is certified by the Delaware Division of Consumer Protection. If you are unsatisfied with the results of arbitration, you may then file a claim in court for a refund or replacement vehicle.
Likewise, if your manufacturer does not have an informal dispute settlement program, you are allowed to pursue relief under Delaware’s lemon law in court.
Keeping good records and soliciting an attorney is not a guarantee that you’ll win your case in either arbitration or court.
If your car is found to be a lemon, you are entitled to either a refund of your car, including any fees or taxes you’ve paid, but excluding a reasonable usage allowance, or, you’ll be entitled to a replacement of your vehicle with a comparable make and model.
Key Takeaway Arbitration is not required in the state of Delaware unless the manufacturer has an arbitration process in place.
Lemon law tips
Here are a few things to keep in mind about lemon laws:
- If you modify your vehicle in any way, whether by customization, neglect, abuse, or misuse, lemon laws will no longer apply to your car.
- All repairs should be made through the manufacturer or dealership, or by repair facilities that the dealer has authorized. Keep all of the records of these repairs.
- Keep your terminology consistent. If you initially referred to the defect as the car “stalling,” for example, keep referring to it as “stalling.” Don’t change how you refer to the problem, or a manufacturer can argue that the issue did not need to be fixed repeatedly, which is not covered by the lemon law.
- Lemon laws can vary from state to state, including their requirements. If your situation is not covered by the lemon laws in your state, you may still be protected by the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Talk to an attorney to discuss your options.
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