Lemon Laws in Maine
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Maine’s lemon laws apply to new and used cars purchased or leased in Maine that are within three years of their original purchase, or 18,000 miles, or the end of their manufacturer’s warranty, whichever comes first. Maine’s Lemon Laws also extend to other motor vehicles that are purchased new within the state, including motorcycles and motorhomes. It does not cover vehicles used for commercial purposes over 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight.
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Keep reading on to learn about what you should do if you have purchased a lemon in Maine.
What is a lemon law?
Lemon laws, in general terms, are laws designed to protect consumers from products that are defective. While the term “lemon” can refer to any product, it usually refers to automobiles, including cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
All fifty states and Washington D.C. have their own versions of lemon laws, including their own limitations and coverages.
A vehicle is considered a lemon if it has a manufacturer’s defect that can’t be repaired satisfactorily in a reasonable period of time. The specific time frame varies by state. If the vehicle can’t be fixed, the manufacturer, not the dealership, is required to reimburse the customer or provide a new vehicle.
Is there a lemon law in Maine?
Yes, vehicles are covered under Maine’s lemon law if they arenew and were purchased in Maine.
Is my defect covered under the lemon law?
Your new car purchased in the state of Maine could be considered a lemon if within three years or 18,000 miles of purchasing it, or the end of your manufacturer’s warranty, whichever comes first, it fits the following criteria:
- You’ve had to bring it in for repairs for the same issue three or more times
- The defect could cause injury or death, in which case the manufacturer only has one repair attempt
- The defect cannot be repaired in fewer than 15 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 substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of your vehicle, and is something that is covered under your vehicle’s express warranty
Maine’s lemon laws extend to motor vehicles that are purchased or leased new within the state, including trucks, motorcycles, and motorhomes. The law only applies to vehicles purchased or leased in Maine.
Key Takeaway Maine’s lemon laws apply to all motor vehicles purchased or leased within the state, including trucks and motorcycles, but does not apply to commercially used vehicles over 8,500 pounds.
Are used cars covered under the lemon law?
Yes, Maine’s lemon laws do extend to used cars.
To protect yourself from a potential lemon, test drive the car before you buy it.
You might also want to purchase a CARFAX report or look into the vehicle’s history, including any recalls for the make, model, and year, and have a mechanic evaluate it, if you can.
What about new cars?
Yes, Maine’s lemon laws cover new cars up to three years, 18,000 miles, or the end of the manufacturer’s warranty, whichever comes first. It does not cover vehicles used for commercial purposes over 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight.
If your new car requires the same repair more than three times within this time frame, or if the defect could arguably cause injury or death and cannot be fixed in one attempted repair job, your car may be considered a lemon. Additionally, if it spends more than 15 total business days in the shop as a result of the same defect, this may also qualify your car as a lemon.
If you have altered your car in any way since you purchased it, be it via customization, abuse, or neglect, you may no longer qualify for protection under lemon laws.
How to pursue your lemon law rights in Maine
Keep good records: If you are looking to pursue your lemon law rights in Maine, make sure that you keep and make copies of all records pertaining to your car and the repairs done for the defect.
Contact your manufacturer with a certified letter: If your car suffers a breakdown within the aforementioned time period, be sure to contact your manufacturer with a certified letter. They must be given the opportunity to fix the defect before any arbitration can take place or any lawsuits can be filed.
After your request is made, the manufacturer has seven days to either comply, or to deny your claim. If the final repair attempt is unsuccessful, you have the right to your refund or replacement.
File for a state arbitration hearing: If they deny your claim, you may then file for a state arbitration hearing.
Keep in mind, however, that this won’t guarantee you a victory if you pursue a claim. Manufacturers may argue that they were not given “reasonable attempts” to fix the problem and refuse to refund or replace your car.
The arbitration board will take up to 45 days to administer a decision. Manufacturers are legally bound to whatever the outcome of the arbitration is, but may still appeal.
File a court claim: If you are unsatisfied with the arbitrator’s decision, you can file a separate claim in court. In this case, legal counsel that specializes in lemon laws should be consulted. The manufacturers will have legal representation on their side that understands the complexity of the legal process, and it’s vital that you have the same.
Key Takeaway You must notify your manufacturer by certified letter that they have one more chance to fix your car, and what you would prefer as compensation, a refund or a replacement, if they should fail.
Lemon law tips
A few things to keep in mind:
- 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. To pursue relief under federal law, talk to an attorney to discuss your options.
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