The Lemon Law covers defects or conditions that substantially impair a new vehicle’s use, value, or safety. A car is considered a “lemon” if it is purchased new from a dealer and it needs extensive repairs. Extensive repairs are defined as requiring your new car to have been in the shop more than three times for the same problem and you’ve been given no relief by the dealer. If you find yourself in that situation then Florida’s Lemon Law can help. Florida Lemon Law was designed to protect consumers who have purchased or leased a “lemon.”

The Lemon Law will allow you to get out of your automobile contract and to return your car under certain circumstances. But the law does not provide relief automatically – if you file a Lemon Law claim, the burden of proof is on you, not the dealer or manufacturer. You must show that there is something wrong with your vehicle that cannot be fixed. A good tip if you believe your car may be a “lemon”, is to keep all records of repairs and maintenance. This could best help you prove your claim in the event you need to make one.

Report the Issue to the Manufacturer

If you believe you have a “lemon,” you must report your issues to the manufacturer or the dealership where you bought the car within the first 24 months after you purchased the car. These first 24 months are known as the “Lemon Law Rights Period.”

If the manufacturer fails to fix the problem after three tries, which is considered a “reasonable number of attempts,” Florida law requires the manufacturer to buy back the defective vehicle or give its owner a similar replacement vehicle.

Final Request for Repairs

Once this occurs, and the manufacturer fails to act the consumer can give the manufacturer one final request to repair the vehicle. This must be done via express mail. Click here for the Instructions and Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form. The manufacturer then has 10 days to direct the consumer to a reasonably accessible repair facility, and then 10 more days for the manufacturer to fix the vehicle.

Manufacturer Arbitration Programs

Some manufacturers have their own arbitration programs that have been certified by the State of Florida. If your manufacturer does have its own program, the dispute must first be submitted there initially. To determine whether your manufacturer has a state-certified program, check the Florida CFO’s list of State-Certified, Manufacturer-Sponsored Programs or call the Lemon Law Hotline (1-800-321-5366 within Florida; 850-414-3500 outside Florida).

If a manufacturer has no state-certified program, or if a manufacturer does have a program and that  program fails to decide the Lemon law claim within 40 days, or the consumer is not satisfied with the state-certified program’s decision, the dispute can then be submitted to the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board. Click here to download a Request for Arbitration form, or contact the Lemon Law Hotline (1-800-321-5366 within Florida; 850-414-3500 outside the state) to obtain a Request for Arbitration form.

If your vehicle’s condition has been affected due to accident, neglect, abuse, modification, or alteration, it is not covered by the Lemon Law.

Sometimes the best option is to consult with a Florida lawyer who specializes in this area of law. The attorney can advise you on whether the Lemon Law applies to your situation and what to do next.