Florida’s Lemon Law, also known as the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, applies to new or demonstrator motor vehicles – used by dealerships for customers to test drive – that are purchased or leased in Florida. It does not apply to used motor vehicles or other vehicles such as off-road vehicles, trucks with gross weights of more than 10,000 lbs., motorcycles, or mopeds.
Florida’s Lemon Law
Florida’s Lemon Law requires the manufacturer to repurchase or replace a vehicle that meets a certain warranty repair history. If after three attempts to repair the same defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle (nonconformity) or the vehicle has been in an authorized repair facility for a cumulative total of 15 or more days (does not have to be consecutive or for the same defect), a Florida consumer can provide written notification, by registered or express mail, to the manufacturer that it has a final opportunity to cure the defect.
Upon receipt of written notice, the manufacturer has 10 days to respond to the consumer and schedule a final inspection and repair (the 4th repair attempt). If this final repair attempt does not correct the problem or the vehicle has been out of service for 30 or more cumulative days, certain steps must be taken by a consumer to force compliance by the manufacturer with the law.
If the manufacturer has a state-certified informal dispute resolution program, this information should be found in the vehicle’s warranty book or owner’s manual, the consumer must avail themselves of this. However, if none exists, or is unsuccessful, the consumer must apply to the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board administered by the Florida Attorney General. A Request for Arbitration form can be obtained by contacting the Florida Attorney General’s website or by calling the Lemon Law Hotline at (800) 321-5366 or (850) 414-3500. Importantly, claims for arbitration must be filed prior to two years and 60 days after the vehicle was purchased.
The Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board generally holds a hearing within 40 days. If the Board finds in favor of the consumer, the manufacturer must comply with the decision within 40 days. An appeal of an adverse decision by the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board can be made to the Circuit Court if done within 30 days from the receipt of Board’s decision.
The legal procedure for obtaining relief under Florida’s Lemon Law is technical and there are strict time limits and other requirements. Also, if the motor vehicle is a recreational vehicle, the time frames and dispute resolution programs differ. If you feel you need legal advice, please contact Terrell • Hogan’s consumer law attorney Leslie A. Goller, who has experience representing consumers under the Florida Lemon Law.