Florida Lemon Law Rights Consumer Guide
This Florida Lemon Law Rights Consumer Guide was prepared by the Florida Attorney General and contains a great explanation of the Florida lemon law definition and the Florida lemon law statute and its presumptions. If after you read this guide you have questions about your rights under the Florida automobile lemon law or the lemon law process generally, or you want to skip the guide and just get free help seeking damages under the Florida lemon law on new cars, connect with a Florida lemon law attorney for a free lemon law case review here. Simply put, whenever you need help with the Florida car lemon law (or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the federal lemon law), CarLemon is your one stop lemon law infosource.
Note: The information contained in this Florida Lemon Law Rights Consumer Guide is general information and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. This information applies to motor vehicles acquired on or after October 1, 1997.
- Is My Vehicle Covered?
- How the Florida Lemon Law Works
- Lemon Law Remedy Calculation Guideline
- State-certified Manufacturer Programs
- Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board
- New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board Case Summaries
- Recreation Vehicles
- Motor Vehicle Defect Notification and Instructions
- “Bought Back” Vehicles Under Florida’s Lemon Law
Florida’s Lemon Law only applies to NEW or demonstrator vehicles sold in the state of Florida. New or demonstrator vehicles that are leased in Florida are also covered, if they are lease-purchased, or if the lease is for one year or more and the lessee is responsible for taking the vehicle in for repair. If the vehicle is transferred from one consumer to another during the first 24 months after delivery to the original consumer, and both consumers use the vehicle for personal, family or household purposes, the consumer to whom the vehicle is transferred may be covered under the Lemon Law.
The Lemon Law Does NOT Cover:
- Trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight;
- Off-road vehicles;
- Vehicles which are purchased for purposes of resale;
- Motorcycles and mopeds;
- The living facilities of recreation vehicles.
The Lemon Law covers defects or conditions that substantially impair the use, value or safety of the new or demonstrator vehicle (these are called “nonconformities”). These defects must be first reported to the manufacturer or it authorized service agent (usually, this is the dealer) during the “Lemon Law Rights Period,” which is the first 24 months after the date of delivery of the motor vehicle to the consumer. If the manufacturer fails to conform the vehicle to the warranty after a reasonable number of attempts to repair these defects, the law requires the manufacturer to buy back the defective vehicle and give the consumer a purchase price refund or a replacement vehicle. The law does not cover defects that result from accident, neglect, abuse, modification or alteration by persons other than the manufacturer or its authorized service agent. DO NOT DELAY in reporting a problem as this may cost valuable time and protection.
Consumers should KEEP RECORDS of all repairs and maintenance. A written repair order should be obtained from the service agent (dealer) for each examination or repair under the warranty. The consumer should note the date the vehicle was taken in for repair and and date he or she was notified that work was completed. Odometer mileage when the vehicle was taken to the shop and when it was picked up after repair should also be noted. Consumers should keep all receipts or invoices for payment of expenses related to the purchase/lease of the vehicle and to any repair.
If the vehicle has been back to the service agent for repair of the same recurring problem at least three times, the consumer gives written notification by certified, registered or express mail, to the manufacturer (not the dealer) to afford a final opportunity to repair the vehicle. Check the warranty book or owner’s manual or other written manufacturer supplement for the address given by the manufacturer. A Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form may used for this purpose. Click here for the Instructions and Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form. Upon receipt of the notification, the manufacturer has 10 days to direct the consumer to a reasonably accessible repair facility, and then up to 10 days from delivery of the vehicle to fix it.
If the vehicle is in and out of the authorized repair shop for repair of one or more different problems for 15 or more cumulative days, the consumer gives written notification of this fact to the manufacturer (not the dealer), by certified, registered or express mail. Check the warranty book or owner’s manual or other written manufacturer supplement for the address given by the manufacturer. A Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form may used for this purpose. Click here for the Instructions and Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form. After the manufacturer’s receipt of the notification, the manufacturer or its authorized service agent must have at least one opportunity to inspect or repair the vehicle. The consumer may be eligible for a purchase price refund or a replacement vehicle if the vehicle is out of service for repair for a cumulative total of 30 or more days.
If the manufacturer does not provide a refund or a replacement vehicle, consumers may invoke their rights through one or two arbitration programs. The dispute must be submitted for arbitration to a manufacturer sponsored program, if that program was certified by the State of Florida when the consumer purchase or leased the vehicle and the manufacturer’s warranty or other written material explained how and where to file a claim with a state-certified program.
A list of Manufacturers who sponsor state-certified programs can be found by clicking here, or to find out if a manufacturer has a state-certified program, Consumers in Florida may call the Lemon Law Hotline (1-800-321-5366), consumers out of state may call (850) 488-2221. “State-certified” means the manufacturer’s program meets certain state and federal requirements; it does not mean that the program is administered or sponsored by the State of Florida.
If a manufacturer has no state-certified program, or if the manufacturer has a state-certified program, but the program fails to make decision in 40 days, or the consumer is not satisfied with the state-certified program’s decision, the dispute must be submitted to the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, which is administered by the Office of the Attorney General. The consumer initiates the process by contacting the Lemon Law Hotline (1-800-321-5366; 1-850-488-2221) to obtain a Request for Arbitration form. The form is submitted for eligibility screening to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Consumer Services.
Once a case is approved for arbitration before the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, a hearing will be scheduled within 40 days. A panel of three arbitrators hears the case at a location that is reasonably convenient for the consumer. Hearings are held during normal working hours and are conducted in accordance with Florida’s Open Meetings Law. Arbitration hearings are conducted in English. Consumers who do not speak or understand English must bring an interpreter to the hearing, at the consumer’s expense. The interpreter should be fluent in both languages, since the hearing may contain very technical evidence that must be translated precisely. At the hearing’s conclusion, the board renders an oral decision which is subsequently reduced to writing and mailed to the consumer and the manufacturer.
If the board determines the vehicle is a “lemon,” the consumer is awarded either a replacement vehicle or a refund (the Consumer may choose whether they want a refund instead of a replacement vehicle), including costs incurred in connection with the acquisition of the vehicle (collateral charges) and costs directly caused by the substantial defect which resulted in the award (incidental charges). The consumer is charged an offset for the use of the vehicle. The offset is calculated according to a statutory formula based on the mileage attributable to the consumer as of the date of settlement or an arbitration hearing, whichever occurs first. The case is dismissed if the board rules in favor of the manufacturer. Decisions of the board are final unless an appeal is filed with the circuit court within 30 days. If the award is not appealed, the manufacturer must comply within 40 days of receipt of the written decision.Lemon Law Remedy Calculation Guideline
The following information is provided as a guideline to assist consumers in estimating the amount a consumer might recover if a refund or a replacement motor vehicle is awarded under the Lemon Law. The information is provided as a guide, only, and does not constitute a guarantee of entitlement to any relief under the law. Whether the consumer is entitled to a remedy under the Lemon Law, and the amount of any such remedy, is determined by the New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board on a case-by-case basis. The consumer and manufacturer may also agree, before the arbitration hearing, to a remedy that may be more or less than what is calculated using this guideline. This is a general guideline only, and may not apply to every situation.Calculating the Reasonable Offset for Use
The Lemon Law charges the consumer an offset for their use of the vehicle, which is based on the mileage the consumer has put on the vehicle as of the date of a settlement agreement or an arbitration hearing, whichever occurs first. In the case of a refund award, the cash awarded to the consumer is reduced by the amount of the offset. In the case of a replacement vehicle award, the consumer will have to pay the offset to the manufacturer to obtain the replacement motor vehicle.
Formula: Purchase Price (reduced by any manufacturer rebate to the consumer and exclusive of debt from any other transaction) (Note, if a Lease, purchase price is the price the lessor paid for the vehicle) multiplied by Mileage attributable to the Consumer (reduced by mileage at delivery and other non-consumer mileage) as of the date of settlement or an arbitration hearing, divided by 120,000 (60,000 if the vehicle is a recreation vehicle).
Examples of “other non-consumer mileage” include, but are not limited to: test drives by the service agent during the course of repairs, by the manufacturers during pre-arbitration vehicle inspections, by independent inspectors of manufacturer-sponsored informal dispute settlement programs, by decision-makers of manufacturer-sponsored informal dispute settlement programs and by the New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board during state-run arbitration hearings, etc.Non RV Example
If your purchase price was $24,000.00 and your mileage at the applicable date was 20,000 miles, your offset would be $4,000.00.RV Example
If your purchase price was $50,000.00 and your mileage at the applicable date was 10,000 miles, your offset would be $8,333.33.
IF YOU ARE SEEKING A REFUND, the refund is calculated depending upon whether you financed the purchase, leased the vehicle or paid cash. Each of these is addressed below.
IF YOU FINANCED THE PURCHASE OF YOUR VEHICLE, by borrowing all or a portion of the purchase price, your finance institution (e.g. bank, credit union or finance company) may have a lien on the vehicle. The Lemon Law states that, in these situations, if a refund is awarded, the consumer and the lien holder (bank, credit union or finance company) shall be paid as their interests may appear. This usually means that the consumer is awarded the amounts paid by the consumer toward the purchase of the vehicle, reduced by the offset for use, and the loan on the vehicle is paid off by the manufacturer. The following are examples of items that may be recoverable by the Consumer:
- The amount of any cash down payment (Note that if the down payment is, in whole or in part, a manufacturer rebate, the portion that is a rebate usually will not be included in the consumer’s award);
- The amount of periodic payments (principal and interest) made on the loan as of date of repurchase of the vehicle by the manufacturer;
- The amount of any reasonable “collateral charges” in addition to the cash down payment (costs wholly incurred as a result of the acquisition of the vehicle) that were not financed (e.g. window tinting, government fees, extended warranty, additional items installed in/on the vehicle, etc.). You should have some documentation or other proof of the amount paid, such as canceled checks, receipts, invoices, etc.
- The amount of any allowance for a trade-in vehicle. This means the net trade-in allowance in the purchase agreement, if this is acceptable to the Consumer and Manufacturer. If this amount is not acceptable, then, 100% of the retail value of the trade-in vehicle as depicted in the NADA Official Used Car Guide (Southeastern Edition) in effect at the time of the trade-in. The Manufacturer must produce the applicable NADA guide.
If you traded in a vehicle on which you owed a debt to a lien holder, and the dealer “inflated” or increased the allowance for your trade-in to account for this debt, the manufacturer may not accept the net trade-in allowance on your purchase agreement. In this event, the Arbitration Board will look to the retail value of the trade-in vehicle, as reflected in the NADA Official Used Car Guide (Southeastern Edition) which was in effect at the time of your trade-in, and that figure will be reduced by the amount of debt you owed on your trade-in vehicle when you traded it in. If the NADA Guide provides for increasing the retail value for such things as low mileage, and specified accessories, and your trade-in vehicle had these items, the Board may utilize the higher retail value. Use of the NADA Guide in these circumstances could result in your trade-in allowance being a negative amount, which may further reduce the amount of money awarded to you.
On the other hand, if you traded in a vehicle on which there was minimal, or no debt remaining, and the net trade-in allowance given by the selling dealer was less than the retail value in the NADA guide, use of the NADA retail value may increase the amount of money awarded to you. Some research on this issue prior to entering into settlement negotiations or prior to an arbitration hearing might assist you in making an informed election with regard to your trade-in allowance. You should inquire of your local public library whether they have the correct edition of the NADA Guide. If you have a pending arbitration claim, you may also request the Manufacturer to produce a copy of the page(s) of the guide applicable to your trade-in vehicle.
The amount of any reasonable “incidental charges” (e.g. postage, long distance calls, rental car, towing, warranty deductibles or repair charges, etc.) incurred as a direct result of the nonconformity (defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle). You should have some documentation or other proof of the amount paid, such as canceled checks, receipts, invoices, etc.
To arrive at a total, add the amounts in numbers 1 through 4, above (if your trade-in allowance is a negative, the effect will be to subtract that amount), then, subtract the offset for use, and then add the total of any amounts in number 5. This should give you an estimate of your portion of a refund. The lien holder (your lending institution or finance company) should be paid the balance owed or payoff on the loan as of the date the vehicle is repurchased by the Manufacturer.
IF YOU LEASED YOUR VEHICLE, then you are the “lessee” and the entity to which you send your payments every month is, most likely, the “lessor.” The Lemon Law states that refunds shall be made to the lessor and lessee as follows: the lessee shall receive the “lessee cost” (which is the aggregate deposit and rental payments previously paid by the lessee) and the lessor shall receive the “lease price” (which is defined in the statute) less the lessee cost. The lessor shall not charge a penalty for early termination of the lease. In layman’s terms, the consumer/lessee’s portion of the refund may consist of:
- The amount of any security deposit paid at lease signing;
- Other costs paid out-of-pocket to obtain the lease (e.g. service fees, pro-rated taxes, government fees, first monthly payment in advance, etc.);
- Total amount of lease payments (in addition to a first month’s payment made in advance at lease signing) made as of the date of repurchase of the vehicle;
- The amount of any allowance for a trade-in vehicle. (See Number 4 in the “If You Financed the Purchase of Your Vehicle” section and the “Important Note About Trade-in Allowances.” All of those provisions apply to lease transactions);
- The amount of any reasonable “collateral charges” (costs wholly incurred as a result of the acquisition of the vehicle) that were not included in the amounts paid at lease signing or incorporated in your monthly lease payments (e.g. window tinting, government fees, extended warranty, additional items installed in/on the vehicle, etc.). You should have some documentation or other proof of the amount paid, such as canceled checks, receipts, invoices, etc.
- The amount of any reasonable “incidental charges” (e.g. postage, long distance calls, rental car, towing, warranty deductibles or repair charges, etc.) incurred as a direct result of the nonconformity (defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle). You should have some documentation or other proof of the amount paid, such as canceled checks, receipts, invoices, etc.
To arrive at a total, add the amounts in numbers 1 through 5, above (if your trade-in allowance is a negative, the effect will be to subtract that amount), then, subtract the offset for use, and then add the total of any amounts in number 6. This should give you an estimate of your portion of a refund. The Manufacturer should pay the lessor the “lease price” less the aggregate deposit and lease payments previously paid by you.
IF YOU PAID CASH TO PURCHASE YOUR VEHICLE: Your refund may include the following:
- Total cash paid to acquire the vehicle, reduced by any manufacturer rebate, if applicable;
- The amount of any allowance for a trade-in vehicle. (See Number 4 in the “If You Financed the Purchase of Your Vehicle” section and the “Important Note About Trade-in Allowances.”
- The amount of any reasonable “collateral charges” not included in the cash paid to acquire the vehicle (costs wholly incurred as a result of the acquisition of the vehicle, e.g. window tinting, extended warranty, additional items installed in/on the vehicle, etc.). You should have some documentation or other proof of the amount paid, such as canceled checks, receipts, invoices, etc.
- The amount of any reasonable “incidental charges” incurred as a direct result of the nonconformity (defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle, e.g. postage, long distance calls, rental car, towing, warranty deductibles or repair charges, etc.). You should have some documentation or other proof of the amount paid, such as canceled checks, receipts, invoices, etc.
To arrive at a total, add the amounts in numbers 1 through 3, above (if your trade-in allowance is a negative, the effect will be to subtract that amount), then, subtract the offset for use, and then add the total of any amounts in number 4.
IF YOU ARE SEEKING A REPLACEMENT VEHICLE, the Lemon Law defines a “replacement motor vehicle” as a motor vehicle which is identical or reasonably equivalent to the motor vehicle being replaced, as the motor vehicle being replaced existed at the time of acquisition. “Reasonably equivalent to the motor vehicle to be replaced” means the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of the replacement vehicle shall not exceed 105 percent of the MSRP of the vehicle being replaced. In the case of a recreational vehicle, the retail price of the replacement recreation vehicle shall not exceed 105 percent of the purchase price of the recreation vehicle being replaced. IMPORTANT: If your vehicle was leased, or if you purchased it with financing and you still owe on your loan, you should contact your lessor or lender to find out whether you will be able to “swap” your original vehicle for the replacement vehicle under your existing lease or loan, and if you will incur additional costs. If you have a lease, the lessor cannot charge you an early termination penalty for the replacement vehicle. In addition to the replacement vehicle, you may also recover the following:
- The amount of any reasonable “collateral charges” (costs wholly incurred as a result of the acquisition of the vehicle, e.g. earned financed charges (interest paid on your loan or lease as of the date of repurchase), window tinting, extended warranty, additional items installed in/on the vehicle, etc.). You should have some documentation or other proof of the amount paid, such as canceled checks, receipts, invoices, etc.; and/or
- The amount of any reasonable “incidental charges” incurred as a direct result of the nonconformity (defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle, e.g. postage, long distance calls, rental car, towing, warranty deductibles or repair charges, etc.). You should have some documentation or other proof of the amount paid, such as canceled checks, receipts, invoices, etc.
REMEMBER that you will have to pay the Manufacturer the “reasonable offset for use.”
State-Certified, Manufacturer-Sponsored Programs
As of March 1, 2000, the following manufacturers sponsor the BBB/AUTOLINE program and are certified by the State:
- Alfa Romeo
- AM General
- Rolls Royce
- General Motors (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC Trucks)
If your vehicle is made by any manufacturer listed above, and the manufacturer has, at the time of purchase or lease, provided you with written information regarding how and where to file a claim (check your warranty book or owner’s manual, or a separate supplement included with your purchase/lease materials), then you must first apply to the BBB/AUTOLINE program before you are eligible for a hearing before the Fla. New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board administered by the Office of the Attorney General. DO NOT DELAY! You must apply with the BBB/AUTOLINE within 60 days of the expiration of the “Lemon Law rights period,” which is 24 months from the date of delivery of your vehicle to you.
If the BBB/AUTOLINE does not make a decision within 40 days of the date you apply or if you are not satisfied with the Program’s decision for any reason, then you are eligible to file for arbitration with the Fla. New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, the state-run arbitration program. DO NOT DELAY! You must file with the state-run Program within 60 days of the expiration of your Lemon Law rights period, or 30 days of the final action of the BBB/AUTOLINE, whichever date is later. Call the Lemon Law Hotline 1-800-321-5366 (850-488-2221 out-of-state or in Tallahassee) to get a Request for Arbitration form.
If your vehicle is made by any manufacturer not listed above, then you are NOT required to submit to any manufacturer-sponsored program before filing with the state run arbitration program. This is very important because the time for filing your claim with the State of Florida will not be extended during participation in a manufacturer-sponsored program which is not certified by the State. If you go through a manufacturer-sponsored arbitration or mediation program that is not state-certified before filing with the state, you may run out of time to file with the state.
These Manufacturers sponsor programs that have NOT been certified by the state and you are NOT REQUIRED to use them to preserve your rights under the Lemon Law:
Daimler-Chrysler (National Center for Dispute Settlement/Customer Arbitration Board);
Ford Motor Company (Dispute Settlement Board);
Toyota Motor Sales, USA (National Center for Dispute Settlement)
Some manufacturers who do not offer state-certified programs may, either through written materials (e.g. the address in the warranty for sending written notification may be the same as the address for filing a claim with a non-certified program), customer service call numbers or their dealers, attempt to encourage you to make use of these programs. BEWARE that submitting a claim to one of these programs may cost you valuable time.
Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board Hearing Procedures
Arbitration hearings before the New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, which is administered by the Office of the Attorney General, are informal; however, there are rules and procedures which are followed. When a consumer’s Request for Arbitration is approved for a hearing, the consumer and the manufacturer will be provided with a pamphlet that contains the applicable rules. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that you read all of the information received from the Office of the Attorney General and provide any additional information requested.
Some rules or procedures which may be of general interest are as follows:
- A manufacturer does have the right to perform a pre-hearing inspection of the consumer’s vehicle. This is an inspection which is arranged after the consumer has been approved for arbitration, but before the date of the hearing. It is only an inspection. The primary purpose of the inspection is to promote settlement between the parties. The manufacturer is NOT permitted to perform any additional repairs, but may test drive the vehicle or attach diagnostic equipment to it. The manufacturer’s inspection is supposed to be held at a mutually agreeable time and location, and the consumer must be present during the entire inspection, unless the consumer waives the right to be present in writing. The manufacturer must give the consumer any information gathered as a result of the inspection within a certain time before the arbitration hearing.
- An attorney from the attorney general’s office, Lemon Law Arbitration Program, serves as “board administrator” and legal advisor to the arbitration board. The attorney does not represent either party at the hearing, but is available to answer questions and provide information about the board’s procedures both before and after the hearing. The name, address and telephone number of the attorney assigned to each case is provided in the Notice of Arbitration that is sent to consumers and manufacturers when a claim is approved for arbitration.
- Arbitration hearings usually are scheduled by the attorney general’s office within 40 days after approval of the consumer’s Request for Arbitration. Hearings are conducted by three-member panels of the arbitration board and may last, on average, from two to four hours. Arbitration hearings are conducted in English. Consumers and manufacturers should each come to the hearing prepared to present their side of the dispute and should have with them copies of all documents they have submitted to the board and to each other before the hearing.
- Arbitration hearings are conducted to encourage a full and complete disclosure of the facts and to give each party a full and equal opportunity to present evidence. All testimony is taken under oath, and each party may present testimony of witnesses who have information that will assist the arbitration board in making a decision. Each party may ask questions of the other party and their witnesses (this is called “cross examination.”) The arbitration board will listen to the testimony, review any relevant documents that have been submitted, and will decide whether the consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement under the Florida Lemon Law. The board may exclude testimony or documents if these are determined to be irrelevant to the dispute, or repetitive of other testimony or documents. The board may inspect or test drive the vehicle during the hearing if the board thinks it appropriate to do so. If the board decides the consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement, additional testimony will be taken about the amounts due the consumer and the board will calculate the amounts due. If the board decides the consumer is not entitled to a refund or replacement, the claim will be dismissed. A written decision will be prepared by the board attorney and sent to each party by certified mail.
- The manufacturer may attempt to resolve a dispute with a consumer before the hearing. This is called a settlement. The parties are free to negotiate and agree to any settlement that is satisfactory to them. It is suggested that the manufacturer be requested to put the terms of a settlement offer in writing and that a definite time for completion of the settlement be included. If an offer is made by the manufacturer and the consumer would like to know how the offer compares with what the arbitration board might award during a hearing, the consumer may contact the board administrator assigned to their case and request this information. The Consumer must contact the board administrator to advise of the settlement negotiations so that any scheduled hearing may be postponed, pending the outcome of the settlement negotiations. Settlement agreements are NOT confidential and the parties will be requested to verify the settlement terms to the Office of the Attorney General.
Arbitration hearings are held in public buildings and are open to the public. Consumers who have never participated in an arbitration process, or who are unsure or nervous about the process, should observe a hearing before attending their own. Information about pending hearings in the consumer’s area can be obtained by calling the office of the board administrator assigned to their case.
A consumer must currently own or possess the vehicle which is the subject of the dispute to be eligible for an arbitration hearing.
A Lemon Law proceeding does not in any way alter a consumer’s responsibility to his or her lessor, bank or financing company. Consumers should continue making payments on their vehicle while they are awaiting the outcome of any Lemon Law proceeding. If the arbitration board awards a refund, or if the parties agree to a full refund as a part of a pre-hearing settlement, then, the lease or loan will be paid off by the manufacturer according to the provisions of the Lemon Law or the agreement between the parties.
It is understood that consumers are often very frustrated as a result of the repair process and other disappointments encountered when a new vehicle ends up in a Lemon Law proceeding. It is important to keep records, keep a cool head, and if in an arbitration hearing, explain to the arbitration board, as clearly as possible, your side of the dispute.
Arbitration Board Case Summaries
Case Summaries are brief annotations of selected Decisions of the New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board and are prepared by Assistant Attorneys General in the Lemon Law Arbitration Program of the Office of the Attorney General. They do not represent the entire text of any Board Decision, nor are they summaries of every Decision rendered by the Board. They may provide some guidance with regard to how the Board has ruled on various issues; however, the Case Summaries should not be considered definitive or precedential, and are not intended as any guarantee by the Board or the Office of the Attorney General that similar issues coming before the Board will be decided in the same manner as may appear in the Case Summaries.
Copies of any decisions contained in the Case Summaries may be obtained upon request and payment of the cost of duplication directed to the Office of the Attorney General, Lemon Law Arbitration Program, The Capitol, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050. Telephone: (850) 414-3300.Recreation Vehicles
Purchasers of recreation vehicles (not van or truck conversions) should be provided with the “Consumer Guide to the Florida Lemon Law” by their selling dealer at the time of purchase. The Consumer Guide contains a section that explains Lemon Law coverage for recreation vehicles. If you did not receive a Consumer Guide when you purchased your vehicle, call 1-800-321-5366 (1-850-488-2221 if outside Florida) to request a Guide.
Certain parts or components of recreation vehicles are NOT COVERED under Florida’s Lemon Law. These are referred to in the law as the “living facilities,” which are defined as portions of the vehicle designed, used or maintained primarily as living quarters, such as the flooring, plumbing system and fixtures, roof air conditioner, furnace, generator, electrical systems other than automotive circuits, the side entrance door, exterior components and windows other than the windshield and driver and front passenger windows. This is not a complete list.
The Lemon Law rights period for recreation vehicles is 24 months from the date of delivery, just like for other motor vehicles; however, other time periods are different and consumers should read the Consumer Guide for more information.
IMPORTANT: Recreation vehicles are often made and assembled by more than one manufacturer, each of which may separately warrant its product. RV Consumers should receive all applicable warranties from the selling dealer at the time of purchase and these documents should be kept in a place of ready reference at all times. Repair of of defective components should be sought from the service agent who is authorized to perform the repair by the manufacturer that warrants the component. Consult the warranty and/or owner’s manual of the manufacturer(s) whose component(s) are believed to be defective to find out where to take the RV for repair. Service agents that perform any examination or repair under the manufacturer’s warranty must provide the consumer with a written, legible repair order each time the vehicle is brought to the shop. Keep records of all repairs and required maintenance, and the mileage associated with warranty repairs.
If the recreation vehicle has been subjected to at least three repair attempts for the same defect that is not a defective living facility component, or has been out of service for repair of one or more defects that are not defective living facility components for 15 or more days, then, written notification must be sent to each manufacturer (not the dealer) which may provide warranty coverage of the defects. If the consumer is not certain which manufacturer’s warranty covers the complaint, it is better to send the notification to all potentially responsible manufacturers. The Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form may be used for this purpose or send a letter. The notification must be sent by registered or express mail. Click here for the Instructions and Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form. Please refer to the section about Recreational Vehicles in the “Consumer Guide to the Florida Lemon Law” for further information about notification, manufacturer response and time requirements, as these provisions are different for recreation vehicles.
If a final repair attempt by the manufacturer(s) after receipt of notification fails to correct a recurring, non-living facility defect, or if the vehicle is out of service by reason of repair of one or more non-living facility defects for a total of 60 cumulative days, and the manufacturer(s) or authorized service agent(s) had at least one opportunity to inspect or repair the vehicle after receipt of the written notification, then, the consumer may be eligible for a refund or replacement under the Lemon Law.
Recreation vehicle consumers who purchased their recreation vehicles on or after October 1, 1997, are required to submit their disputes to the Office of the Attorney General for eligibility screening. To submit a claim, call the Office of the Attorney General at (850) 414-3300, Ext. 3500 and ask for a Pilot RV Program Request for Mediation/Arbitration form. The claim must be filed with the Office of the Attorney General within 60 days after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period, which is 24 months from the date of delivery of the vehicle to the consumer. DO NOT DELAY! RV consumers are NOT required to submit to any other manufacturer-sponsored program or the state-run program.
If the claim is determined to be eligible, it will be forwarded to the American Arbitration Association for further administration and the scheduling of a mediation conference. The American Arbitration Association Program Administrator will provide all parties with a procedural guide to assist them in presenting their claims. There is no charge to consumers for using this program, the pilot program is funded by the recreation vehicle manufacturers.
Mediation is a process in which parties to a dispute and a mediator (a neutral facilitator) meet to discuss settlement. Mediation is mandatory for both the consumer and the involved RV manufacturer(s), unless the dispute is settled before the scheduled mediation conference. The mediator is selected and assigned by the American Arbitration Association from a panel of certified mediators who have received training in the Lemon Law. The mediation conference will be held in a location that is reasonably convenient for the consumer and the conference is confidential; however, monitors from the Office of the Attorney General may be present. At the mediation conference, the mediator assists the parties to reach a mutually acceptable settlement of the dispute; however, the mediator cannot impose any settlement upon the parties. If the parties reach a settlement during the mediation conference, or at any time after the dispute has been submitted to the American Arbitration Association, the settlement terms must be detailed in writing on a required form, signed by all parties and filed with the American Arbitration Program. Settlement agreements are NOT CONFIDENTIAL. If the parties do not reach agreement during the mediation conference, this is called an “impasse.” The mediator will notify the American Arbitration Association of an impasse and the dispute will proceed to arbitration.
If the claim proceeds to arbitration, the American Arbitration Association will assign an arbitrator and notify the parties of the date, time and location of the arbitration hearing. The arbitrator will not be the same person who served as the mediator during the prior mediation conference. Arbitration is mandatory for both the consumer and the involved manufacturer(s), unless the dispute is settled before the arbitration hearing. Arbitration hearings will be held in locations that are reasonably convenient for the consumer in the State of Florida, and are open to the public. The arbitrator must apply the Lemon Law and the rules of the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Legal Affairs in making a decision. The arbitrator will conduct a hearing and afford each party a full and equal opportunity to present evidence and sworn testimony. The hearing will be tape recorded by the arbitrator. After hearing all testimony and evidence, the arbitrator will declare the record closed and will issue a written decision within 10 days of the closing of the record. The decision will either award the consumer a refund or replacement vehicle, or dismiss the claim, and will be sent to all parties by registered mail by the American Arbitration Association. Either party may apply to the circuit court for an order confirming, modifying, vacating or correcting the arbitration decision.
Either party may be represented by an attorney during the mediation conference and/or the arbitration hearing. Consumers are advised that, generally, the involved manufacturer(s) are represented by an attorney at the mediation conference and at an arbitration hearing.Motor Vehicle Defect Notification and Instructions Defect Notification Form
The Defect Notification Form is available as a PDF File. Click the above link to View the Form or Right Click the link to Save the Form to your computer.
The purpose of this form is to provide you with a means of notifying the manufacturer(s) of your vehicle that you have reached a certain point in the repair process. This notification is required by the Lemon Law after there have been at least three repair attempts for the same substantial defect or condition, or the vehicle has been out of service for 30 or more days for repair of one or more substantial defects or conditions. Use of this particular form is optional. The notice to the Manufacturer must be in writing.
- Download the form and complete it, checking the box that fits your repair situation. If both situations apply, check both boxes. If only the first box (days-out-of-service) applies, you do not have to describe the defects.
- Print three copies of the form:
- Mail one, by registered or express mail, return receipt requested, to the Manufacturer(s). If your vehicle is a conversion van or a recreational vehicle, you may have to send a form to each of the Manufacturers who warrant or may warrant the affected parts of the vehicle. Do Not send it to the dealer. The Manufacturer’s address for customer service or its Florida zone office should be in your warranty book or owner’s manual.
- Keep one, along with your mail receipt, for your records as you will need it if you have to file for arbitration.
- Send the third one, by regular mail, to: Office of the Attorney General, Lemon Law Research Unit, The Capitol, Tallahassee 32399-1050. Note: This form does not start an arbitration claim. Please do not send your repair orders or other documents to the Attorney General’s office with the form.
- If you checked the “3 or more repair attempts” box: When you get your return mail receipt signed by the Manufacturer, starting with the date signed, the Manufacturer has 10 days to contact you and arrange an appointment for the final repair attempt at a reasonably accessible repair facility. The appointment should be within a reasonable time of the Manufacturer’s contacting you. The Manufacturer is not required to contact you in writing. You should make a note of the date you are contacted by the Manufacturer.
- If you checked the “days-out-of-service” box: When you get your return mail receipt signed by the Manufacturer, you should take your vehicle in to the dealer and allow the dealer or the Manufacturer to inspect it or attempt repair, at the dealer or Manufacturer’s option, at least one more time.
- When you take your vehicle to the repair facility, be sure to get a legible repair order after the inspection or repair, even if no actual work is performed. You are entitled to this under the Lemon Law. Keep this repair order, along with your other repair orders, your copy of the defect notification and the return mail receipt as you will need them if you have to file for arbitration.
- For more detailed and further information about your rights, please refer to the booklet entitled “Consumer Guide to the Florida Lemon Law.” You should have received this booklet when you acquired your vehicle. You may also contact the Lemon Law Hotline at 1-800-321-5366, if in Florida; or (850) 488-2221, if out-of-state.
If a consumer who owns or leases a new motor vehicle files a claim under Florida’s Lemon Law and the manufacturer thereafter agrees or is ordered to buy back the vehicle, the manufacturer is required to notify the Office of the Attorney General of the buy-back and to have the vehicle’s title branded “manufacturer buy back” by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
For further information regarding vehicles on the “Buy Back” list, contact the Office of the Attorney General, Lemon Law Arbitration Program, The Capitol, PL-01, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050. Please provide the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), manufacturer, make and model of the vehicle.