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Wisconsin Lemon Law Rights Consumer Guide

Wisconsin Lemon Law Rights

This guide contains a great explanation of the Wisconsin lemon law definition as well as the rest of the Wisconsin lemon law statute and its presumptions. Read this guide, and if you have more questions about the lemon law process generally or your rights under the Wisconsin automobile lemon law, or you want free help seeking remedies under the Wisconsin lemon law on new cars and/or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (the federal lemon law), click to connect with a Wisconsin lemon law attorney for a free case review and free lemon law representation! Simply put, whenever you need help with the Wisconsin car lemon law, CarLemon.com is your one stop lemon law infosource. This Guide about your Wisconsin Lemon Law Rights was prepared by the Wisconsin Office of the Attorney General.

What is a Lemon?

A new vehicle, no more than a year old and still under warranty, is a lemon if it has a serious defect the dealer can’t fix in four tries, or if it has one or many defects that prevent you from using it for 30 days or more (the 30 days need not be consecutive).
What is a defect?
A defect covered by the Lemon Law must seriously affect the use, value or safety of your vehicle and must be covered by the warranty. An irritating rattle may not be “serious” enough to make your car a lemon. Stalling probably is.
What vehicles are covered?
The law covers any new car, truck, motorcycle or motor home you buy or lease in Wisconsin, even if you register the vehicle in another state. It also covers a demonstrator or executive vehicle, but does not cover other used vehicles. The law also does not cover mopeds or trailers.
How long are you covered?
The Lemon Law includes no deadline for filing a Lemon Law suit; a court would decide if your case were too old. Some attorneys maintain that the limit would be six or seven years after purchase; however, some attorneys may be reluctant to handle cases over four years old.
Is my vehicle a lemon?
Your vehicle is a lemon if all of the following statements are true:

  1. You bought or leased a vehicle in Wisconsin.
  2. The vehicle is a car, truck, motorcycle or motor home.
  3. The vehicle developed a defect or defects during its first year and before the warranty expired.
  4. The defect seriously harms the vehicle’s use, value or safety.
  5. One of the following happened during the vehicle’s first year and before the warranty expired:
  • The dealer failed four times to fix the same defect; OR
  • The vehicle was out of service for 30 days or more due or more defects

What should a lemon owner do?

  • Get a repair order for every repair visit, even if the shop doesn’t diagnose the problem or attempt a repair. A repair order should show the problem you report, and the dates your car is in the shop.
  • Keep purchase contracts, warranties, and repair orders to prove you have a lemon. Don’t keep repair orders in your car where they may get lost.
  • We suggest you use WisDot’s Motor Vehicle Lemon Law Notice Form to ask the manufacturer for a refund or replacement vehicle. Send the form to the manufacturer at the address in your owners manual. Your refund should include the full purchase price, sales tax, any finance charge, and collateral costs (for example, repairs, towing, alternative transportation), minus the mileage deduction allowed by law. If you get a replacement vehicle, the manufacturer should refund your collateral costs and charge nothing for mileage.
  • If you return to the manufacturer a vehicle that has missing equipment or unrepaired damage beyond normal wear and tear, a manufacturer may want to negotiate a damage deduction. You should not be responsible for paying for normal wear and tear, such as minor dents, scratches, pitted glass, soiled carpets, minor stains or tears. Feel free to have the damage appraised at a location you choose, or to have it repaired rather than paying a deduction.
  • If you don’t get a refund or replacement by writing the manufacturer, consider using your manufacturer’s arbitration program. If your manufacturer has a program certified by WisDOT, you must use it before you can sue under the Lemon Law. If your manufacturer’s program is not certified, you do not have to use it. However, if you do use it, you might get a decision you like. You can reject any decision you don’t like. See the list of arbitration programs listed below.
  • Talk to an attorney if the manufacturer doesn’t help you. A court may need to decide if your vehicle is a lemon and what settlement you deserve. If you sue the manufacturer and win, you could get double the vehicle purchase price, plus other costs and attorney fees. Visit this page to find an attorney who handles Wisconsin Lemon Law cases.

Who can I call for help?
Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Dealer Section licenses and regulates dealers and manufacturers and helps resolve disputes about vehicle sales and warranties. Contact the Dealer Section if you have a complaint against a dealer or manufacturer.

The Dealer Section won’t resolve your Lemon Law complaint for you, but it will give you more information about using your Lemon Law rights.

Dealer Section
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
P. O. Box 7909
Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7909
(608) 266-1425


Manufacturer arbitration programs

Arbitration is an informal way to resolve your complaint without going to court. Arbitrators, often volunteers from the community, decide your case based on information you and the manufacturer provide. If your manufacturer has an arbitration program certified by WisDOT, you must use it before suing under the Lemon Law. If it is not certified, you do not have to use it. In either case, arbitration is free, you don’t need a lawyer, and you don’t have to accept a decision you don’t like.

Notification Letter to Manufacturer

The Notification Letter to Manufacturer is available in PDF format. Click the above link to View or Right Click the link to Save the File to your computer.

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