Like almost every other state, Texas has a consumer protection law, or “Lemon Law,” made to protect car buyers from chronically malfunctioning new vehicles. While it won’t turn a sour vehicle into a sweet one, it does offer financial protections for the consumer.
In a nutshell, the Texas Lemon Law (like that in most other states) says that if you bought a new vehicle that has serious flaws covered by the warranty that can’t be fixed, you are entitled to either a replacement or a refund from the manufacturer. However, it can be tricky to qualify for these benefits. In Texas, these Lemon Law protections are complex and don’t kick in right away, so keep very good records of any problems you experience after buying or leasing a new car.
READ ALSO:WHAT IS CALIFORNIA LEMON LAW
Definition of a “Lemon” in Texas
A car is defined as a lemon in Texas by a few different standards. These include:
- The overall number of repair attemptsfor the same defect.
- Whether the defect has resulted to the vehicle going out of servicefor a significant period.
- Whether the defect creates a serious safety hazard.
4 Times Test
Usually, you will have to show that there were 4 attempts to fix a problem in the space of 2 years or 24,000 miles
30 Day Test
Your car may also qualify as a lemon if t has been out of service for a cumulative total of 30 days or more during the first 2 years or 24,000 miles.
Serious Safety Hazard Test
A serious safety hazard is a defect in your vehicle that both threatens your life and drastically impedes the ability to operate your vehicle in a normal manner, or substantially increases the risk of a car fire or explosion.
Your vehicle qualifies under the Serious Safety Hazard Test if you took your vehicle in for service 2 times during first 24 months or 24,000 miles.
Timing is important in Lemon Law cases. You must file within 6 months of the earliest of these conditions:
- Expiration of the warranty.
- 2 years from delivery date.
- 24,000 miles clocked from when it was first delivered.
After these time limits, the Texas Lemon Law no longer applies, even if the problems developed well before the above timeline points. You may still be able to get recourse from the manufacturer, but the State of Texas is out of the picture as far as the Lemon Law goes.
What to Do If Your Manufacturer Won’t Comply
When you have a lemon, your manufacturer should either change your vehicle or refund its value. In order to get your situation resolved, you’ll likely be required to file a complaint. Bear in mind that the manufacturer may refuse to comply even after they receive the complaint.
In this case, it can be a good idea to hire an attorney. They can assist you get a positive outcome and can also help you avoid doing anything to damage your own case. The best part is that if you prevail, you’ll probably be able to recover your attorney fees from the manufacturer.
How to File a Texas Lemon Law Claim
The simplest way to file a Texas Lemon Law claim with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is to fill out the officiall Lemon Law Complaint form (Form ENF-140). There is a $35 fee to file a complaint. Among other things, the form asks for the following information―you can see why it’s so good to keep diligent records:
- Type of warranty
- Name and address of the dealeror other person you bought or leased the vehicle from. Include the name and address of the current lessor, if there is one.
- Date of deliveryof the car to the original owner.
- Vehicle mileagewhen you bought or leased it, mileage when issues were first reported, the name of the dealer or manufacturer’s agent you first reported the problems to, and the car’s current mileage.
- List of existing problemsincluding their history, repair attempts, and the date and mileage of each repair. Provide copies of repair orders if you can.
- Dateon which you notified the manufacturer in writing of your complaint (see below), and the date the manufacturer inspected the vehicle (if they did) and the results.
The claims process needs you to send a certified letter to the manufacturer of your vehicle letting them know you are having problems and expect resolution.
Once the manufacturer gets your notification, they might inspect your vehicle and―perhaps―resolve the problem. You don’t have to send this letter before submitting the Lemon Law Complaint (Form ENF-140), but it helps.
NOTE: If you just want repairs, rather than a refund or replacement, you don’t have to include the $35 fee with the complaint form―and you will send your claim to a different address (noted on the last page of the form). But if you require a replacement or repurchase by the manufacturer, you must include the $35 fee. If you’re not sure yet what you want, you may as well send the fee in case you decide later to go for a refund or replacement.
Finally, the TxDMV will contact the manufacturer and mediate a resolution. If you’re still not happy with the result, a Lemon Law attorney could help you escalate your claim to the courts.
Why Hire a TX Lemon Law Attorney?
When dealing with a dealer or automotive manufacturer, you have to be properly prepared. An attorney will be able to tell you whether you have a lemon, will know exactly how to deal with lemon law issues, and can give you your best option to obtain a satisfactory settlement.
Some benefits of hiring an attorney include:
- They know consumer rights.
- Resolutions may come much faster with the help of an attorney than if you were attempting to handle the issue on your own.
- An attorney’s representation offers you peace of mind.
Essentially, an attorney with experience in the state’s lemon laws acts as your expert and advocate for your rights. You have a much better chance of a successful outcome when you have someone who can guide you based on their expertise and expertise.