Ohio Lemon Laws and the federal Lemon Law (the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) provide for compensation to Ohio consumers of defective automobiles and trucks and other vehicles and products including motorcycles, RV’s, boats, computers and other consumer appliances and products. To qualify under the Ohio Lemon Law or the federal Lemon Law, you must generally have a product that suffered multiple repair attempts under the manufacturer’s factory warranty. Lemon Law compensation can include a refund, replacement or cash compensation. The following comments briefly explain the Ohio Lemon Law and how it applies to you.
This message is not a substitute for contacting a lawyer who can best advise you of your rights. If you think you qualify for a Lemon Law, click here for a free Ohio Lemon Law case review or for an immediate evaluation, simply fax your repair records to 866-773-6152. An experienced Lemon Law attorney will personally review your inquiry and records and quickly contact you for a free consultation.
Ohio Lemon Law
Ohio legislators passed one of the most comprehensive lemon laws in the nation in 1987. It requires automakers to repair defects that affect the use, value, or safety of a new motor vehicle within the first 12 months or 18,000 miles (whichever comes first). If you are having problems with your NEW purchased or leased vehicle, you should immediately take it to an authorized dealer for repair.
The automaker or dealer must be given a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem, and if the problem is not corrected, you might be eligible for a refund or replacement. You are covered by this law even if the problem was discovered late in the protection period and the repair attempts extend beyond one year or 18,000 miles. Failure to comply with Ohio’s Lemon Law is a violation of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.
What Is a Lemon?
A lemon is a motor vehicle that has a problem or problems, covered by the warranty, that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of that vehicle. If you have had problems within the first year or 18,000 miles with your passenger car, light truck (no more than one ton load capacity and not used in business), or motorcycle, you should take it back to the manufacturer or the dealer and ask them to fix it. If they fail to correct the problem(s) after being given a reasonable opportunity to do so, you might own a lemon.
Has the Manufacturer Had a Reasonable Opportunity to Repair the Vehicle?
If you can answer “yes” to any of the following four questions. the manufacturer is presumed to have had a reasonable opportunity to repair your vehicle under Ohio law.
- Have three or more attempts been made to repair one problem and then the problem occurs again?
- Has the vehicle been in the shop for 30 days or more during its first year or 18.000 miles?
- Have eight or more attempts been made to fix different problems that impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle?
- Has one unsuccessful attempt been made to fix a problem that could cause death or serious injury?
If you answered “yes” to at least one of these four questions, you have the legal right to ask the manufacturer to replace the lemon or refund the entire purchase price.
Send a certified letter to the automaker’s “Zone Office”. You can find the address in your owner’s manual, or ask your auto dealer. In the letter, list the problems you’ve had with the car, and what attempts have been made to correct them. Finally, your letter should indicate whether you want the car replaced or the refund for your full purchase price. Be sure to keep a photocopy of your letter for your records. Claims must be brought within five years of the date of the original delivery of the motor vehicle.
Will the Manufacturer Refund the Full Purchase Price of the Vehicle?
Once it is clear that your vehicle has not been fixed, the automaker must, at your option, give you a new vehicle or refund the “full purchase price”. That price includes all of the following:
- The price for the car plus the costs for transportation, dealer preparation, delivery, dealer installed accessories, and other services.
- The costs for financing and credit insurance, as well as any warranty and service charges.
- Taxes and any other government charges, including state sales tax, license fees and registration fees.
Sometimes an automaker will agree with your claim and work to replace your lemon as quickly as possible. In most cases, the manufacturer will request an additional opportunity to repair the vehicle. They may try to negotiate a mutually satisfactory resolution with you. The manufacturer or dealer should advise you about an arbitration program available to informally resolve disputes. If you apply for arbitration, you should expect to wait several weeks for your hearing to be scheduled. Informal arbitration is, however, much faster and less formal than a court proceeding.
What Is Arbitration?
Arbitration allows a neutral third party to make a decision about your case based on the merits of the claim. The Attorney General’s Office has rules for approval of arbitration programs that are intended to ensure a their and timely resolution to the dispute.
All automakers participate in some kind of arbitration program. Some of these have been approved by the Attorney General, but others have not. If a program has been approved by the Attorney General, you must go through arbitration before you have the right to file a lawsuit. Contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section to learn which manufacturers have approved arbitration programs.
You can find information from your dealer or with the warranty materials explaining how to apply for arbitration. For approved arbitration programs, you have the right to request an oral hearing of your case. These hearings are frequently conducted by telephone conference call for the convenience of all parties.
Whether the arbitration program has been approved or not, decisions reached through arbitration are not binding on the consumer.
Should I Take My Case to Court?
If the automaker does not have an arbitration program approved by the Attorney General, or if you are unhappy with the outcome of the arbitration, you may want to take your case to court. You can file a civil suit to recover the total cost of the vehicle and any attorney’s fees you have incurred.
What Are the Responsibilities of the Manufacturer and the Dealer?
Manufacturers and dealers are required to provide more information to consumers than ever before. Manufacturers must provide this written statement to every new car buyer to inform you of your legal rights under Ohio’s Lemon Law.
IMPORTANT: If this vehicle is defective, you may be entitled under state law to a replacement or to compensation.
Dealers are required to give you a fully itemized, written work order each time you take your vehicle in for repairs or services even if the work is paid for under the manufacturer’s warranty. Work orders must list all the work performed, what parts were used, and the cost for parts and labor.
Is There Protection for Used Car Buyers?
If you are looking at buying a used car, keep in mind that Ohio’s Lemon Law does not apply to motor vehicles more than one year old or driven more than 18,000 miles.
Also keep in mind that lemons returned to the manufacturer or dealer can be resold to consumers only under certain conditions. A used car dealer must give you the following statement to read and sign before selling you a returned lemon.
IMPORTANT: This vehicle was returned to the manufacturer because it did not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty and the nonconformity was not cured within a reasonable amount of time as provided by Ohio law.
The automaker must give you at least a 12 month, 12,000 mile warranty that offers the same coverage as the original new car warranty.
The notice and warranty are required even if the car was returned as a lemon under the law of another state. The notice and warranty serve as your warning that you are buying a vehicle returned as a lemon.
In addition, manufacturers must obtain certificate of titles for returned lemons that include the following disclosure:
BUYBACK: THIS VEHICLE WAS RETURNED TO THE MANUFACTURER BECAUSE IT MAY NOT HAVE CONFORMED TO ITS WARRANTY.
Do I Have the Same Protection as a New Car Buyer?
A returned lemon buyer is NOT entitled to the same legal protection as a new car buyer. You are provided only with the fair warning notice and warranty protection described above.
If an automaker or its authorized dealer sells a returned lemon as a used vehicle without giving you the notice and the warranty, it could be a violation of the Consumer Sales Practices Act. If this is the case, Attorney General Montgomery can file a legal action against the automaker or its dealer for a refund of the purchase price and seek a civil penalty. You also have the right to file your own lawsuit to recover your money.
Any vehicle returned to the automaker for a problem that could cause death or serious injury may not be sold in the State of Ohio.
How Can I Protect Myself?
If you buy a new vehicle, please take the following precautions just in case it turns out to be a lemon. It will cost you nothing if you do. It could cost you thousands if you don’t.
Your best protection is good record keeping and an accurate maintenance history.
Keep all warranty and repair orders. Each order should contain a fully itemized list of repairs, show what the repairs cost, and include the length the car was in the shop. (Check every work order you receive to make sure it includes all the information, even if the work was done under warranty.
Write down your vehicle’s problems and defects. Give a copy of the list to the service person at the dealership. Any recurring problems should be described the same way each time you take the car back.
File repair records in the order they were received. Your files also should contain copies of all documents, repair orders, receipts, and other written information you have used to explain the problem to the service person.
Read and understand your owner’s manual. Follow the maintenance requirements. If the manufacturer can show that you have not maintained your car properly, you might not be eligible for a refund or replacement.
Where Can I Get More Information?
If you would like additional information, or for complete advice concerning your legal rights, click here to consult a Ohio Lemon Law attorney.
Most of the information on this page is provided by the state of Ohio, which this website is not affiliated with.