What is the purpose of Missouri’s Lemon Law and who does it protect?
The Missouri New Vehicles Warranty Law, more commonly known as the “Lemon Law,” protects buyers of new vehicles by enforcing the manufacturer’s express warranty. Missouri’s Lemon Law does not apply to used cars, motorcycles, mo-peds, and off-road vehicles. Rather, the law covers all new vehicles sold or leased with warranty provisions.
Consumers who are protected under Missouri’s Lemon Law include: (1) the purchaser of a new motor vehicle primarily used for personal or household purposes; (2) any person to whom the new motor vehicle is transferred for the same purposes during the duration of an express warranty applicable to the new motor vehicle; and (3) any other person entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce its obligations. For more information, click here.
I am covered by Missouri’s Lemon Law and my new vehicle has a defect. What is my next step?
Report it to the manufacturer as soon as possible! Under Missouri’s Lemon Law, owners of new vehicles are responsible for reporting problems or defects in writing to the manufacturer. Following the complaint, the manufacturer must be given a “reasonable” number of attempts to correct the problem. Missouri’s Lemon Law states this requirement is met if (1) the vehicle has been in the repair shop for the same problem four or more times and the problem still exists, or (2) the vehicle has been out of service because of a problem covered by warranty for 30 or more working days since the delivery of the vehicle.
I’ve reported the defect, but the manufacturer is unable to fix my car. How will I be reimbursed?
If the reported problem cannot be fixed in a reasonable number of repair attempts the manufacturer has the option to either offer the consumer a cash refund or a vehicle of comparable value. Under the Lemon Law in Missouri, manufacturers are permitted to deduct a “reasonable allowance for the consumer’s use of the vehicle” from the refund. Missouri law also requires that a replacement vehicle must be acceptable to the consumer. Additionally, Missouri law provides that the warranty of a new vehicle with reported problems may be extended if the manufacturer has not repaired the new vehicle by the expiration of the applicable time period. For additional information, click here.
After several attempts to fix my vehicle’s defect, the manufacturer and I disagree about whether my car conforms to warranty and whether I should receive a refund. What options do I have to resolve this dispute?
If the manufacturer provides a reasonable number of attempts and indicates that it doesn’t believe the consumer is owed a refund, but the consumer still believes the vehicle does not conform to warranty, the consumer must submit a complaint to the manufacturer. Most auto manufacturers in Missouri have appeals procedures, often with arbitration boards, to resolve problems consumers have with the manufacturer or car dealership. Throughout the dispute procedure, the manufacturer is permitted to make a settlement offer, which the consumer may accept or reject. If a consumer resorts to an informal dispute settlement procedure, an action must be commenced within 90 days following the procedure’s final action.
If the consumer rejects the settlement offer, he may commence a court action against the manufacturer or dealer (1) within the earlier of six months following expiration of the express warranty, or (2) 18 months following the date of the vehicle’s original delivery to the consumer. The consumer is allowed to recover a sum equal to the aggregate amount of costs and expenses incurred, including attorney’s fees, if he prevails.
On the other hand, if the court determines that the claim was filed in bad faith or solely for the purpose of harassment, then the consumer will be liable for all costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the manufacturer. Missouri’s Lemon Law allows several affirmative defenses for the dealers and manufacturers of new vehicles including: (1) an alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use, market value, or safety of a motor vehicle; (2) a nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations of a motor vehicle; (3) a claim by a consumer was not made in good faith; and (4) any other affirmative defense allowed by law.
Consumer Tips Regarding Missouri’s Lemon Law:
- If you suspect your new vehicle has a defect, report it to the manufacturer as soon as possible!
- If a defect in your new car has been “fixed” but you believe problems still exist, do not hesitate to report the defect to the car’s manufacturer again.
- Do not settle for less than what you are guaranteed in your warranty! There are appeals processes if you and the car manufacturer disagree about a defect. Know your rights as the owner of a new vehicle!