Lemon Laws in Oregon

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Oregon’s lemon laws apply to new cars that are within two years of their original purchase or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Oregon’s Lemon Laws also extend to motor vehicles that are purchased new within the state, including motorcycles and motorhomes.
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Keep reading on to learn about what you should do if you have purchased a lemon in Oregon.
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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 colloquially 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.
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 Oregon?

Yes, vehicles are covered under Oregon’s lemon law if they arenew and were purchased in Oregon.

Is my defect covered under the lemon law?

Your new car purchased in the state of Oregon could be considered a lemon if within two years or 24,000 miles of purchasing it, whichever comes first, it fits the following criteria:
  • You’ve had to bring it in for repairs 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 30 days
  • The defect affects the driveability of the car and isn’t affecting a nonessential component (like the stereo or seat warmers)
  • 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
Oregon’s lemon laws extend to motor vehicles that are purchased new within the state, including motorcycles and motorhomes. The law only applies to vehicles purchased new in Oregon.
Key Takeaway Oregon’s lemon laws apply to all motor vehicles purchased in the state, not just cars.

Are used cars covered under the lemon law?

No, Oregon’s lemon laws do not 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.
Oregon does have legal routes that you can take if you pick out a used car that ends up being a lemon((. This includes the FTC’s **“Used Car Rule” and Oregon’s own Uniform Commercial Code.
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What about new cars?

Yes, Oregon’s lemon laws cover new cars up to 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.
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, or if it spends more than 30 total calendar days in the shop as a result of the same defect, then your car is considered 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 Oregon

If your car suffers a breakdown within the aforementioned time period, be sure to contact your manufacturer. They must be given the opportunity to fix the defect before any arbitration can take place or any lawsuits can be filed.
Keep good records: If you are looking to pursue your lemon law rights in Oregon, make sure that you keep and make copies of all records pertaining to your car and the repairs done for the defect.
Don’t take your vehicle to private mechanics: All repairs must be handled by the manufacturer, or one of their approved and certified mechanics, rather than an independent mechanic or shop, so that manufacturers cannot dispute the work later on. Include pictures and videos of the defect whenever you can.
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.
Hire legal counsel: If you opt to pursue a claim or file a lawsuit in either case, legal counsel that specializes in lemon laws is invaluable. 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.
Consider arbitration: Before taking the case to trial, we recommend that you consider arbitration. Almost all manufacturers prefer arbitration, which is free and typically faster than going through the complexities and expenses of a court case.
Oregon is an unusual state in that it does not require arbitration before filing a lawsuit, and leaves the matter to the discretion of the manufacturers. Even in this case, arbitration is recommended.
Key Takeaway Oregon does not require arbitration before taking a lemon law case to trial. But arbitration is still advised.

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 does 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 appropriate attorney to find out your options.
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