The Georgia Lemon Law 101
Let’s say you’ve recently bought a brand new car. You’ve worked hard for it, saving up your money and researching dealers. Well now it’s a few months down the road and you’ve noticed that maybe your dream car isn’t quite living up to your expectations.
How do you make sure your family is safe and that your money hasn’t gone to waste? Are you protected?
There’s good news. The Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit administers Lemon Law rights to owners of new cars. Their first goal is to fix your car. If that can’t happen, you might be eligible for a replacement or refund.
A few conditions must apply to your situation in order for your vehicle to be eligible for Lemon Law coverage:
- You bought or leased the vehicle new and its title has not changed names.
- You’ve had the vehicle for under 2 years and 24,000 miles.
- Either you got the vehicle for personal, family or household use or you buy or lease less than 10 vehicles per year for business use (not including limousine rental services).
Certain types of vehicles are excluded from coverage:
- Motorcycles and mopeds
- Trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) over 12,000 pounds. A truck’s GVWR is usually on the driver’s side door jamb, and always in the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin
- All-terrain vehicles
- Vehicles that are not self-propelled
- Parts of a motorhome that are primarily for living quarters, office or commercial use
The type of defect also matters when determining if your vehicle will be covered by the Lemon Law. The defect must be a serious safety hazard, substantially impair the vehicle’s use/value or it must violate the manufacturer’s warranty. Your vehicle’s defect will not be covered if it is a result of abuse, neglect or any unauthorized alteration to the vehicle.
If you’ve determined that your vehicle meets the Lemon Law eligibility requirements, you can start going through the Lemon Law Process following these steps recommended by the Consumer Protection Unit:
- Allow the manufacturer or its authorized leader or agent to attempt to repair the defect. In most cases, the manufacturer gets 3 repair attempts, but this number may vary.
- Submit a Final Repair Opportunity Notice to the manufacturer and allow 1 final repair attempt.
- If the manufacturer did not designate a repair facility within 7 days of your notice or the defect is not corrected after the final repair attempt, request a refund or replacement vehicle. A replacement vehicle will be identical or equivalent to the original vehicle. The refund includes the vehicle’s original value (or if you’re leasing the vehicle, payments you’ve made and the amount allowed for any trade-in), collateral charges and all expenses related to repair attempts with a deduction for miles you put on the car before its first repair attempt. Send a Vehicle Repurchase or Replacement Request to the manufacturer. If you accept a settlement offer and the manufacturer takes back your vehicle, you are finished with the process.
- Defend that you are entitled to either a refund or replacement in a hearing. Call 404-651-9397 for an application for arbitration and send it along with copies of documents that will prove your claim. Mail this paperwork to the Consumer Protection Unit within 1 year of the end of your Lemon Law period (2 years or 24,000 miles). If either party appeals the panel’s decision, the dispute may move to courts and you are recommended to hire a private attorney.
All paperwork needs to be sent by either overnight mail delivery or certified mail, return receipt requested. You can find the manufacturer’s address in your owner’s manual. Make sure you also send copies of all forms to the Consumer Protection Unit:
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 356
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Getting a new car is a big decision. Protect yourself by knowing your rights. For more information, check out the Lemon Law complaint process on the Consumer Protection website and read their frequently asked questions.