Florida's Lemon Law

Buying a new car is financially painful. Buying one and having major problems with it from the beginning is agony. That’s why most states, including Florida, have lemon laws. Florida’s laws are in Chapter 681 of the Florida Statutes and apply both to new and demonstrator vehicles, including leased vehicles.

The coverage of our lemon laws is broad to protect the public. At the time of purchase or lease of a new or demonstrator vehicle, the dealer must give each owner or lessee a booklet called Consumer Guide to the Florida Lemon Law. The statutory procedure for getting relief under the Lemon Law is technical, and there are strict time limits and other requirements.

So read the booklet, and call The Florida Bar’s Lemon Law Hotline at (800) 321-5366. Also, go online to the bar’s website to print a booklet that gives a lot of information about the requirements to perfect your rights. I have only enough time to give you generalities about the law. That’s all that they are, so use those sources for more specific information.

A failure to follow all the technical requirements of the law can lead to failure of your Lemon Law claim. In general, the vehicle must have been used for personal, family, or household purposes. The law applies to any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle that is reported to the manufacturer or dealer during the first 24 months of ownership. Some types of qualifying defects are leaks and mechanical and paint problems.

If the manufacturer can’t fix the same defect after three tries, the law gives the steps you have to take to get the vehicle replaced or money back for the purchase price. After getting written notice about the problem from you, the manufacturer will have one more chance to fix it. Ten days is allowed for that. Also, if your vehicle is out of service for repair of different defects for a cumulative total of at least 15 days, the Lemon Law applies. This is a useful law to know. Good luck.

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