Lemon Law Information Car Lemon CarLemon.com Free Connecticut Case Review



Department of Consumer Protection
Automotive Dispute Settlement Program
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Tel:860-713-6120
1-800-538-CARS

William M. Rubinstein, Commissioner

 

Lemon Law Dispute Settlement Arbitration Form
(click to view, right click to save)

Please read "Back in the Driver's Seat" below to determine
whether you are eligible for Arbitration under this program.

Back in the Driver's Seat

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
A message from
Dannel P. Malloy
Governor

In 1982, Connecticut made legislative history by pioneering the country's first Lemon Law to aid owners of defective new automobiles.

Since that time, the Lemon Law has been fine tuned to provide even greater consumer protection. Our Automotive Dispute Arbitration Program has returned over $30 million in refunds and replacement autos to car owners.

This low-cost, expedient arbitration program has proven to be an excellent alternative to courtroom litigation and has increased consumer confidence by providing a place to obtain satisfaction.

Now more than ever, we need to ensure that our major vehicle investments are protected against the frustrating problems of being stranded with a lemon.

I hope this booklet will be a helpful guide to the Lemon Law process.

Click Here to download the complete guide.

The Lemon

It's every car owner's nightmare.

 

Your dream car spends more time in the repair shop than on the road while you watch the "clock" on your manufacturer's new car warranty ticking away.

Now there's help. If you own a lemon purchased or leased in Connecticut, you may be eligible for the State's arbitration program.

What is the Lemon Law?

Actually, the "Lemon Law" is a nickname for Connecticut General Statute Chapter 743b, "Automotive Warranties". It establishes arbitration as an informal process for resolving disputes between consumers and automobile manufacturers. This does not cover extended warranties you buy separately.

What does the Lemon Law cover?

The Lemon Law covers all new passenger, combination passenger/ commercial vehicles and motorcycles purchased or leased in Connecticut:

  • Which do not conform to the manufacturer's express warranty
  • Which have substantial defects affecting the use, safety or value of the vehicle AND
  • If purchased or leased BEFORE October 1, 1998, occur during the first two (2) years from the original owner's delivery date or the first 18,000 miles on the odometer-whichever occurs first.
  • If purchased or leased AFTER October 1, 1998, occur during the first two (2) years from the original owner's delivery date or the first 24,000 miles on the odometer (whichever period ends first).

What is not covered?

  • Defects which do not substantially impair the vehicle's use, safety or value
  • Defects not covered under the manufacturer's express warranty
  • Defects caused by the consumer's abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification of the vehicle

What is a Lemon?

The law defines a lemon as a new motor vehicle (passenger car, combination passenger/commercial van, truck or motorcycle) purchased or leased in the Connecticut which does not conform to the manufacturer's express warranty and which, after "a reasonable number of attempts" cannot be repaired so that it does conform to that warranty. The law defines a lemon as a new motor vehicle (passenger car, combination passenger/commercial van, truck or motorcycle) purchased or leased in the Connecticut which does not conform to the manufacturer's express warranty and which, after "a reasonable number of attempts" cannot be repaired so that it does conform to that warranty.

What's a reasonable number of attempts?

The same problem has to be subjected to a reasonable number of repair attempts and still continue to exist after these attempts at repair.

The law presumes that a "reasonable number" is four. However, if you have less than four repair attempts for the same problem and can justify that this is a reasonable number of repair attempts, and they have been performed within the time frames noted above.

---- OR ----

When the vehicle has been out of service for repair at the dealership for a cumulative total of thirty (30) days or more - not necessarily all at one time - for any number of unrelated problems. These problems must occur within the appropriate time parameters as explained elsewhere in this material.

---- OR ----

In the case of a safety defect which is likely to cause death or serious injury if the vehicle is driven, the defect continues to exist after two (2) or more attempts during the first year of operation or the term of the express warranty, whichever occurs first

These defects must be covered under
the manufacturer's warranty.

The above information explains the eligibility criteria under the Lemon Law and not the time frames within you must apply. Once you meet the eligibility requirements you may apply any time thereafter.

My vehicle has serious problems. What should I do?

Of course you should report the vehicle's problems to the dealer or the manufacturer. Check your owner's manual/warranty booklet for the address and telephone number of the zone office designated to receive your complaint. The booklet will also tell you if the manufacturer requires written notification of a claim requesting a refund or replacement vehicle. If such notification is required, you must write to the manufacturer. Include a copy of your letter to the manufacturer with your Lemon Law application.

IMPORTANT

Keep a record of all contacts with the dealer and manufacturer, along with complete records of all repair work and dates the vehicle was at the dealership. You have the right to a copy of all work orders, even if the work being done is under warranty.

I've decided to use the Department of Consumer Protection's Arbitration Program. What should I do?

You should obtain the Lemon Law "Request for Arbitration" form by contacting the Department by telephone or in writing using the address and numbers contained in this booklet. The Arbitration Form is also available as a PDF document. Once you obtain the arbitration form, complete it and forward it to the Department as soon as possible with the required $50.00 fee.

What information will be asked on the form?

You must provide:

  • The date you took delivery of the car;
  • The name of the dealer who sold the vehicle and the place where the vehicle was serviced;
  • Details of the defects, including dates of repair, number of days the vehicle was at the dealership for repair;
  • Financial information, such as the full purchase price, sales tax, expenses you incurred because of the vehicle's defects such as towing, lodging, renting another car, injuries etc.;
  • Copies of work orders, the sales contract, registration, title or loan agreement, all warranties and all related correspondence.

What if I lease my vehicle?

You must advise the leasing company that you are applying for Lemon Law arbitration and if they wish to be a party to the proceedings, they must advise the Department of their intent within ten (10) days of the receipt of your letter. The letter to the leasing company must be sent certified or registered and a copy of the letter and postal receipt must be included in your application package.

Is there a charge?

Yes. The law requires that you pay a $50.00 filing fee when you submit your request for arbitration. If it is determined that your case does not qualify for arbitration, the fee will be returned to you. Additionally, the manufacturer is required to pay a fee of $250.00.

How soon will I know whether I qualify?

The Department reviews your Request for Arbitration to make sure that all necessary documents have been submitted. If any information has been omitted, your Request for Arbitration and filing fee will be returned to you along with a list of the information or documents that are required to complete the submission. If all documents have been included, the Department will complete an initial review of the case to determine whether basic eligibility criteria have been met. You will be notified within five business days of the results of the review.

If the Department's review indicates your case is not eligible for arbitration, your filing fee will be returned to you with an explanation as to why your case did not qualify. You may file a written appeal with the Department if you do not agree with its findings.

If the Department's review indicates you case is eligible for arbitration, the manufacturer will be notified and asked to submit a manufacturer's statement and filing fee. Three neutral arbitrators, an automobile technical expert and a Consumer Information Representative will be assigned to your case. The Consumer Information Representative is a neutral "third person" who answers any questions regarding the case, sends correspondence to the parties involved and monitors the arbitration process.

The arbitration panel will make the final determination as to the eligibility of your case. It is possible for a case to be deemed ineligible by the arbitration panel even though it was initially deemed eligible by the Department.

Who are the arbitrators?

An arbitrator is a volunteer who is trained on the settlement of disputes. All volunteers have completed a training program before being appointed to a panel. Each panel will be made up of three members. All documents pertaining to the case are forwarded to a certified technical expert for review, consultation and advice. The expert will sit as a non-voting member of the panel.

Do I have to attend the hearing?

When you file your complaint you must choose between an "oral" or "documentary" hearing. If you choose documentary arbitration, you and the manufacturer's representative will be required to submit to the Department sworn statements and other evidence you would like the panel to consider. You will receive copies of each other's statements and have the opportunity to respond to them in writing. The arbitrators will meet and review the statements and responses. The panel will base their decision solely on documentation and materials submitted by the parties prior to the hearing. Parties cannot present oral testimony, but may observe documentary hearings. If the panel orders a vehicle inspection, one will be scheduled at a later date and the panel will reconvene to render their decision.

If you choose oral arbitration, you and the manufacturer's representative will be present at the scheduled hearing. Both of you will have the opportunity to present your case before a panel of three neutral arbitrators.

The hearing is informal and not structured like a court of law. Typically, the consumer is heard first, followed by the manufacturer. Either party is able to ask the other questions. The arbitration panel may also have questions and may want the automobile technical expert to inspect the vehicle. If possible you should bring the vehicle to the hearing to avoid scheduling an inspection at a later date, thus delaying the arbitration panel's ability to reach a decision. The arbitration panel has ten (10) days from the close of the hearing to render their decision. The parties will be notified of the outcome by certified mail. The oral arbitration process generally results in a more expeditious rendering of a decision.

Will I need an attorney?

No. This arbitration program is designed to be accessible to the lay person. A majority of consumers coming through the program do not use an attorney, however you are free to use one if you choose. If your attorney will be presenting your case before the arbitrators, you must notify the Department no later than two (2) days prior to the hearing.

Also, if anyone other than the purchaser of the vehicle is going to be presenting the case, you must also notify the Department no later than one (1) day prior to the hearing. If someone is going to accompany you and present testimony in addition to you, no prior notification is required. You also have the right to have a third party assist you in your presentation or act as a consultant or interpreter if necessary.

How should I prepare for the oral arbitration hearing?

Use your "Request for Arbitration" as a guide. The form contains much of the information you will need at the hearing. In addition:

  • Gather your documents - Bring records of everything pertaining to the dispute including all correspondence, work orders, receipts and warranties;
  • Organize you records Putting them in chronological order will help to guide you in presenting the history of the problem.
  • Prepare an outline Outlining the major points you wish to present will help you to remember relevant information.
  • Be prepared to discuss the problem in its entirety. You should:

State the specific nature of the defect;

Restate any conversations with the dealer's or manufacturer's representatives;

Describe any new developments which may have occurred since you submitted your "request for Arbitration" form;

Describe any repair attempts or other actions taken;

State your opinion as to what action would constitute a fair resolution of the dispute;

State why you feel the vehicle is a "Lemon". For example, how has the use, safety, and/or value been substantially impaired?

You may also want to:

Prepare a list of questions to ask the manufacturer's representative, if the points are not covered in his or her presentation;

Prepare a final summary that should briefly review the facts you have discussed. Your summary should include a statement regarding your opinion of a fair resolution to the dispute.

Remember

The purpose of the hearing is to allow the arbitrators to gather facts, evaluate information presented by both sides and render a fair decision. Therefore be prepared to offer SUBSTANTIAL PROOF of each point you make, especially those you feel the manufacturer may dispute.

My vehicle meets the definition of a "Lemon" and my case has been accepted for arbitration. Do I automatically get a refund or replacement vehicle?

Possibly. The law provides basic guidelines for remedies, but there is no fixed rule. Each case is treated individually by the arbitration panel when determining an award. If their decision is in your favor, the award will generally be:

  • A replacement with an identical or comparable new car or;
  • A refund of the contract price. The panel may or may not award a mileage deduction for the use you have had of the vehicle. The statutory mileage deduction is computed by multiplying the present mileage of the vehicle times the contract price and dividing that figure by 120,000. Refund or replacement awards may also include reimbursement for other damages or costs. We advise you to have receipts.
  • If the panel finds that the defects in question do not substantially impair the use, safety or value of the vehicle, a "no action" decision is rendered. Therefore, no further action to remedy the problem shall be required of the manufacturer. Your recourse at this point would be to seek legal counsel for private litigation against the manufacturer. You could only reapply for Lemon Law arbitration for a different defect which meets the eligibility requirements.

When can I expect an arbitration decision?

The Department endeavors to resolve disputes within 60 days from the date the completed form is received to the date the decision is reached. Once the panel renders its decision, it cannot be changed or modified by the arbitrators or the Department.

What if I'm not satisfied with the arbitration decision?

In most cases the decision of the arbitrators will be final. You will not be able to appeal this decision to the court except under very limited circumstances. You may be prevented from bringing any other legal action against the manufacturer of your automobile. Therefore, if you are considering taking legal action against the manufacturer of your automobile, you should consult with a private attorney BEFORE signing the Agreement to Arbitrate. The best way to find out how to appeal an award decision or which other laws may apply is to speak with an attorney.

When can I expect the problem to be resolved?

If the arbitrator renders a decision in your favor, the written decision will state the exact date of performance. The arbitrators will make every effort to see that the problem is resolved at the earliest possible date. The Department will contact you ten (10) days after the performance date to determine if the manufacturer has complied with the arbitrator's decision. If the manufacturer has not complied with the arbitration panel's decision, the case is referred to the Office of the Attorney General.

What if I request arbitration, but the manufacturer and I resolve the problem on our own?

You are free to reach a settlement through your own efforts at any time before the arbitrators render their decision. If this happens, you, the consumer MUST contact the Department with the specific terms of the decision settlement. The information should include the following:

(1) The date on which you accepted the manufacturer's offer of a pre-hearing settlement.

(2) The specific terms of the pre-hearing settlement:

  • Was there a refund, replacement, repair or other remedy?
  • Who will pay for the difference in model/year upgrade?
  • Will there be a deduction for mileage?
  • Who is responsible for registration of the new vehicle, including the cost of registering the vehicle?
  • Who is responsible for the difference in sales tax?
  • If the settlement is a repair, what will happen if the repair doesn't work?
  • What type of warrantee will be given with the replacement or repair?
  • For what monies is the consumer responsible?
  • For what monies is the manufacturer responsible?

(3) The date by which the terms of the decision settlement will occur.

Before you accept an agreement from the manufacturer make sure all costs are in writing. This will avoid any problems or "hidden costs" when the exchange takes place. The Department has no jurisdiction over a pre-decision settlement in which you are involved.

If we reach an agreement on our own but the manufacturer does not meet the terms, what should I do?

Notify the Department of Consumer Protection, Lemon Law Office in writing, if the terms of your settlement are not within the specified time frame. At that point, the state arbitration process may resume and a new hearing date scheduled. Keep in mind, the Lemon Law legislation does not cover settlements made between consumers and manufacturers prior to a decision by the arbitrators.

If the panel finds that the defects in question do not substantially impair the use, safety or value of the vehicle, a "no action" decision is rendered. Therefore, no further action to remedy the problem shall be required of the manufacturer. Your recourse at this point would be to seek legal counsel for private litigation against the manufacturer. You could only reapply for Lemon Law arbitration for a different defect that meets the eligibility requirements.

Your Right to Know

Posted notices in dealerships

If any manufacturer does not have an arbitration program certified by the Attorney General a conspicuous notice of the state-operated arbitration program must be prominently displayed in all car dealerships. Keep in mind, the Lemon Law Arbitration Program is designed for consumers and manufacturers, not for dealerships.

Appeals from certified manufacturer's programs

If your manufacturer has an arbitration program that has been certified by the Office of the Attorney General, you will be required to use that program before you can be eligible for the Department's Lemon Law Arbitration Program. If you are injured by a procedure of a certified manufacturer's program, you may file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General. You may appeal to the state arbitration panel for a new hearing. The fees and procedures are the same as those outlined earlier for arbitration hearings.

Non-certified manufacturer's programs

Some car manufacturers offer non-certified arbitration programs. If this is the case, you have the option of using that program or bringing your case directly to the Department of Consumer Protection. Before you decide to use a non-certified program, be sure you understand all the consequences of entering into the program, including possible loss of rights to seek further remedies.

To check whether the manufacturer's program is certified, call the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5400 or the Department of Consumer Protection's Automobile Dispute Settlement at the numbers listed in this booklet.

Lemon Owner's Resource Guide

State Agencies

State of Connecticut
Department of Consumer Protection
Automobile Dispute Settlement Program
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
1-800-538-CARS 860-713-6120

State of Massachusetts
Consumer Coordinator
Executive Office of Consumer Affairs
One Ashburton Place, Room 1411
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 727-7780

State of New York
Chairperson and Executive Director
New York State Consumer Protection Board
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12210
(518) 474-8583

Federal Agencies

Complaints about manufacturer's informal dispute settlement programs

Federal Trade Commission
150 Causeway Street
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 223-6621

Information on Auto Recalls or Safety Defects

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Office of Public Affairs & Consumer Service
400 Seventh Street SW
Washington, DC 20590
(800) 424-9393

Consumer Advocate Groups

Ralph Nader
Center for Auto Safety
2001 S. Steet, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
202-328-7700

Information on Certified Manufacturer's Programs

Office of the Attorney General
30 Trinity Street
Hartford, CT 06106
860-808-5400

Department of Consumer Protection
Automobile Dispute Settlement Program
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
860-713-6120
1-800-538-CARS

Third Party Dispute Resolution Programs

Autoline
Better Business Bureau
821 North Main St. Ext
Wallingford CT 06492
(800) 955-5100
(203) 269-2700

Chrysler Corporation
National Center for Dispute Settlement (NCDS)
2777 Stemmons Freeway, Suite 650
Dallas, TX 75207
1-800-777-8119

Ford Dispute Settlement Board
300 Renaissance Center
PO Box 43360
Detroit, Michigan 48243
1-800-392-3673

All Other Manufacturers
See Autoline


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