Lemon Laws in Maryland
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Maryland's lemon law applies to new or leased vehicles that are registered in Maryland, less than 24 months old, and have fewer than 18,000 miles on them.
A vehicle is considered a lemon in Maryland if there is a brake or steering failure that renders the vehicle impassable under Maryland's safety inspection. It might also be considered a lemon if any problems impact the use and market value of the vehicle.
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Keep reading to learn more about lemon laws in Maryland.
What is a lemon law?
Lemon laws protect consumers who have purchased damaged items—especially defective vehicles. Though there is a federal lemon law, lemon laws vary from state to state. They help compensate car buyers who purchased vehicles that don’t meet basic quality and performance standards.
Is there a lemon law in Maryland?
Yes, Maryland's lemon law applies to new or leased cars, light trucks, and motorcycles that have been registered in Maryland, are less than 24 months old, and have been driven less than 18,000 miles.
If you're not the original owner of the vehicle, the lemon law may still apply if the original owner purchased the car less than 24 months ago.
Is my defect covered under the lemon law?
A car is considered a lemon in Maryland if there is a brake or steering failure that causes the vehicle to fail Maryland's safety inspection, and if there are any problems that impair the use and market value of the vehicle.
The lemon law doesn’t apply If the car’s use, market value, or safety is not impacted by the defect, or if the problems are the result of abuse or neglect on the part of the car buyer.
Key Takeaway Your car might be covered by Maryland’s lemon law if it has a brake or steering failure that could cause it to fail Maryland's safety inspection.
Are used cars covered under the lemon law?
No, Maryland’s lemon law does not apply to used cars. A vehicle needs to be less than 24 months old to be returned as a lemon.
What about new cars?
Yes, Maryland’s lemon law covers new or leased passenger cars, light trucks, and motorcycles.
For the lemon law to apply, the vehicle must be registered in Maryland and less than 24 months old. It must not have more than 18,000 miles on it, either.
How to pursue your lemon law rights in Maryland
If you have a lemon and want to pursue your lemon law rights in Maryland, you’ll need to make a written request to the manufacturer, try to get it repaired, file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division, and pursue legal action if necessary.
Requests and repairs
The dealer or manufacturer must repair a defect with your car within 30 days of your written request, which you should send via certified mail. The manufacturer or dealer is allowed four attempts to fix the problem (or any other problems) that has kept your vehicle under repair for a cumulative 30 days.
If the repairs aren’t successful, contact the manufacturer via certified mail with a return receipt request. You’ll need to explain the defect and what you’ve done to address the problem. Your letter should include the following:
- Dealership where you bought the vehicle
- Copies of documents that back up your claim, such as repair orders, invoices, and dates of repair attempts
The manufacturer will then have 30 days to fix the defect with your car. If the manufacturer cannot do so, they must offer a refund or replace your vehicle—the choice is yours.
If the manufacturer isn’t cooperating, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division.
You may wish to proceed with arbitration to try to resolve the issue before heading to court. While it’s optional, it’s recommended as it is free and typically faster than pursuing legal action.
Pursue legal action
If you decide to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney. A lemon law claim is a legal process, so if you make any mistakes your case might fall a little short. Having an expert on your side helps ensure you do everything exactly as needed.
Keep in mind, of course, that you could do everything perfectly and still not win your case. There are no guarantees.
Key Takeaway If you’re having issues with your new vehicle, send a certified letter to the manufacturer with the details and keep all your repair-attempt documents as proof.
Lemon law tips
- Your car won’t qualify as a lemon if you made any unauthorized modifications to it or if it was damaged due to your own neglect, abuse, or misuse
- Take your car to an authorized manufacturer or dealership for repairs—and hang onto all of your paperwork)
- Use the same wording each time you take your car in for repairs, since lemon laws only apply to the same issue being fixed repeatedly—if your car keeps stalling, specifically say that your car is stalling and ensure it’s written on the work orders
- If the lemon law doesn’t seem to work in your case, check out the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
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