Lemon Laws in Vermont
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Vermont lemon laws cover defects in motor vehicles purchased, leased, or registered within the state for personal or household use.
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For more information on Vermont’s lemon laws, keep reading!
MORE: Types of insurance
What is a lemon law?
A “lemon” most often refers to automobiles like cars, trucks, and motorcycles, but it can apply to any product that violates its manufacturer’s warranty. Lemon laws hold manufacturers accountable, rather than consumers, for defective or faulty products.
All 50 states and Washington D.C. have their own variation of lemon laws, but they all help compensate buyers for defective vehicles. They all follow similar formulas, but details vary from state to state, which is why Jerry has compiled the following guide on lemon laws in the state of Vermont.
Is there a lemon law in Vermont?
Yes. The Vermont lemon law covers defects found in motor vehicles purchased, leased, or registered within the state for personal or household use.
The lemon law does not cover motorcycles, tractors, housing portions of motorhomes, snowmobiles, construction vehicles, or trucks weighing over 12,000 pounds.
Is my defect covered under the lemon law?
To be considered a lemon in Vermont, your vehicle must have a recurring issue that cannot be repaired after at least three attempts or has been out of service due to repairs for at least 30 cumulative business days. The first repair must be undertaken during the vehicle’s warranty period.
Your vehicle must also meet the following criteria:
- The problems are all due to the same defect
- The defect was not caused by any neglect, abuse, misuse, or alterations on your part
- The defect is covered under your vehicle’s express warranty
Are used cars covered under the lemon law?
Yes, Vermont’s lemon laws cover used cars that are still under the original manufacturer’s warranty. The caveat is that the first repair for the reported defect must occur within the vehicle’s original warranty period. If the warranty is expired, the lemon laws no longer apply.
That’s why due diligence is important when it comes to 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 possible.
What about new cars?
Yes, new cars purchased, leased, or registered in Vermont that are primarily for personal, family, or household use are covered under Vermont’s lemon laws.
The lemon law does not cover tractors, construction vehicles, snowmobiles, living quarters for mobile homes, motorcycles, or trucks weighing over 12,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.
If your car has been altered in any way since you purchased or leased it, you may no longer qualify for protection under lemon laws.
Key Takeaway Vermont’s lemon laws only cover vehicles that are meant for personal, family, or household purposes.
How to pursue your lemon law rights in Vermont
First, report any defect inhibiting your car’s driveability to the manufacturer within the warranty term. This is the critical first step in qualifying for lemon law protection. All correspondence with the manufacturer, and all subsequent repair attempts, should be recorded in as much detail as possible to help build your case.
The first repair attempt must be made within the warranty term. Your manufacturer has three total chances to repair the defect before you can pursue arbitration.
If these attempts are unsuccessful, you must file a Demand for Arbitration in order to request a hearing, whether via the manufacturer’s arbitration process or the state’s arbitration board. Your manufacturer will then have one final attempt to fix the problem. If they’re unsuccessful, arbitration must be held within 45 days.
You’re strongly encouraged to hire a lawyer specializing in lemon law before going to arbitration. Classifying a car as a lemon is a complex process—having a lawyer can help you efficiently navigate your case to your desired outcome. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll win, but it greatly helps your chances.
Regardless of whether you choose the state’s arbitration board or the manufacturer’s certified arbitration process, you have a right to claim either a refund of the car’s purchase price, minus a reasonable usage allowance, or a replacement of the car with a similar make and model.
For the manufacturer, the arbitrator’s decision is absolute, and they must abide by it. However, if you are dissatisfied, you can continue your case in court.
Key Takeaway You must file a Demand for Arbitration before you can get a hearing. Your manufacturer will then have one last opportunity to fix your vehicle.
Lemon law tips
A few things to keep in mind:
- Lemon laws do not apply to vehicle defects that are the result of neglect, misuse, or unauthorized alterations
- All repairs should be made through the manufacturer, dealership, or by repair facilities that the dealer has authorized—be sure to keep records of everything!
- Keep your terminology consistent when you describe the problem—lemon laws only cover one recurring issue, so it’s important that you use the same words each time
- If your situation isn’t covered by the lemon law in your state, you may be protected by the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
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