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  6.  — Michigan Vehicle Lemon Law Explained

Michigan Lemon Law And Laws That Apply To New And Used Vehicles Bought In Michigan: What Is It?

In the United States of America, lemon laws are state laws that provide legal rights to buyers of vehicles. These laws protect consumers in case of quality or performance issues with the purchased vehicles. If a consumer purchases a vehicle that is still defective after being out of service in excess of a reasonable period of time or after a reasonable number of repair attempts, then depending on the respective state’s lemon laws, the consumer is entitled to receive a legal remedy under the law; generally a replacement vehicle or a repurchase of their defective vehicle.

Michigan’s Lemon Law provides consumers with legal protection in the event that they purchase or lease a defective vehicle that is still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. In order to qualify, the vehicle must have been purchased or leased in the state of Michigan or it must have been purchased or leased by a Michigan resident. Additionally, the vehicle must have been covered by the manufacturer’s express warranty at the time that it was purchased. The Michigan Lemon Law only applies to privately owned passenger vehicles (sedans, pickup trucks, vans, sport utility vehicles, etc.) acquired for personal or family purposes. The law does not apply to motorcycles, motor homes, buses, large trucks, or off-road vehicles. The Michigan Lemon Law protects consumers from vehicular defects that substantially affect the use or value of the vehicle. Examples of such defects can include problems with the vehicle’s engine, transmission, or brake system. The law does not cover any defects that occur due to an accident unrelated to the defect, abuse or neglect, or unauthorized modifications.

Consumers should take their vehicle to the manufacturer or an authorized dealer if they find that their vehicle has a defect. Under the Michigan lemon law, the consumer must report the defect to the manufacturer during the term of the original warranty or within one year from the delivery date to the original purchaser, whichever is earlier. If the defect was reported within the appropriate time frame, the repairs are allowed to be conducted after the expiration of the warranty or after the one-year period. Manufacturers or dealers are granted a reasonable amount of repair attempts to fix the same defect. A reasonable number of attempts is considered to have been taken if the vehicle was brought into the shop at least four times for the same defect within two years of the first attempt or if the vehicle was rendered out of service due to repairs for a total of 30 cumulative days. These 30 days must occur within the warranty period or the first year from the date of delivery to the original consumer, whichever comes first, but they do not have to be for the same problem. Consumers should keep copies of all work orders and correspondence relating to the vehicle’s defect in order to have proof of the repair attempts.

If the defect to the consumer’s vehicle persists after the reasonable number of attempts, or after being out of service for 30 cumulative days during the warranty period or first year from the date of delivery to the original consumer (whichever comes first), the consumer must give the manufacturer one final repair opportunity. To do this, a consumer must send the manufacturer a written notice via certified mail that informs them of the need to repair the vehicle. This notice can be sent after the third repair attempt or after the vehicle has been out of service for 25 days or more. After the manufacturer receives the notice, they are required to notify the consumer as soon as reasonably possible of a reasonably accessible repair facility for the vehicle to be taken to in order for it to be repaired. Once the vehicle arrives at the facility, the manufacturer has 5 business days to conduct its last repair attempt. If the manufacturer cannot repair the vehicle during this last attempt – so before the 5-day period of time finishes – then the vehicle is deemed a lemon pursuant to Michigan’s lemon law, and the consumer has the right to ask for a refund or a replacement vehicle. If the manufacturer does not comply, the consumer may file suit under the Michigan lemon law and claim damages.

If the manufacturer has an established arbitration procedure that complies with Federal Trade Commission regulations, the consumer must first resort to this procedure before they can file a lawsuit. During this procedure, the consumer may receive a settlement offer from the manufacturer. The consumer has the right to accept or reject this offer. If the consumer chooses to reject the offer, the consumer can then decide to take legal action and sue the manufacturer.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

If a consumer’s vehicle qualifies as a lemon, the manufacturer must provide the consumer with a replacement vehicle or a refund. The consumer has the ability to choose which option they prefer.

The replacement vehicle that the manufacturer provides must be comparable to the original vehicle. If the original vehicle was leased and the consumer chooses to receive a replacement vehicle, they do not have the ability to change the lease agreement other than to switch the vehicle identification number.

The refund amount should be the total of the purchase or lease price of the vehicle, the cost of any modifications added by the manufacturer, and the amount of other reasonable charges like sales tax and registration fees. The manufacturer should also provide reimbursements for towing costs or rental vehicle costs that were accumulated due to the defect(s) of the vehicle. The manufacturer has the right to subtract a reasonable allowance from the refund amount for mileage or damage that was not a result of normal use of the vehicle or the defect(s) with the vehicle. The formula for calculating the reasonable allowance takes into account the purchase price of the vehicle, the mileage on its odometer, and other factors.

If a consumer brings a successful civil action against a manufacturer, they are entitled to receive reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in addition to damages.

Does the Michigan Lemon Law cover used vehicles?

The Michigan Lemon Law does not blanketly apply to all used vehicles, but it does cover some used vehicles. The Michigan Lemon Law applies to vehicles that are covered by the manufacturer’s express warranty, so the law may apply to used vehicles that further meet the criteria of the lemon law. For example, if a used vehicle is still covered under a valid manufacturer’s warranty, and a defect occurs during the manufacturer’s warranty period or within a year from delivery of the vehicle to the original buyer, it is possible for this vehicle to be covered by the lemon law.

Additionally, consumers who purchase used vehicles can qualify for protection under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. This is a federal statute that governs the sale of consumer goods that includes written warranties and also implied warranties. If a consumer purchases a used (or new) vehicle that includes a warranty, the dealership that sold the vehicle, and/or the manufacturer whose warranty still applies, would have to abide by this law.

If the dealership that sells a used (or new) vehicle and/or the manufacturer of the vehicle fails to meet their obligations under a warranty that they provided to the consumer who bought the vehicle, the consumer may be able to file suit under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and collect statutory damages, actual damages, and if deemed appropriate by the court to have their reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs paid for by the dealership and/or manufacturer.