Have you ever bought a new vehicle that spent more time in the service center than on the road? You may have been stuck with a lemon. This term is used for a defective vehicle due to the “sour” experience of paying for something you cannot depend on or use. Consumers in Tennessee have legal protections if they unwittingly purchase a defective car, truck, or SUV from a car dealership. The Tennessee Lemon Law provides you with some options.
What is the Lemon Law?
What is the Lemon Law, and how can it help me? Lemon laws protect consumers from being stuck with a motor vehicle that is not working correctly. Tennessee’s lemon law can be found in Tennessee Code Annotated §55-24-101 to §55-24-112, which only applies to new cars. If the vehicle does not “conform to all applicable express warranties and the consumer reports the nonconformity…during the term of protection…the manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer shall correct the nonconformity, defect or condition at no charge to the consumer, notwithstanding the fact that the repairs are made after the expiration of the term.” (Tennessee Code Annotated §55-24-102).
Now, if the vehicle cannot be made to conform “to any applicable express warranty after a reasonable number of attempts,” then the vehicle must be replaced with a “comparable motor vehicle.” (Tennessee Code Annotated §55-24-103)
How Does the Lemon Law Work?
How does the Lemon Law work in Tennessee? Any new motor vehicle that cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts by an authorized dealer is subject to reimbursement or replacement by the car company. They must also reimburse the consumer for collateral charges, including sales taxes, registration fees, and finance charges.
Under the law, a motor vehicle is a “vehicle that is self-propelled, excluding electric scooters, motorized bicycles, personal delivery devices and every vehicle that is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires….” Further, to be covered, the vehicle must have a gross weight of 10,000 lbs. or less. (Tennessee Code Annotated §55-1-103).
What Does the Lemon Law Cover?
The Tennessee Lemon Law covers all new vehicles; used vehicles are not covered under these provisions in Tennessee. However, if you have purchased a used car that turns out to be a lemon, you still have some possible means of recourse.
When a consumer buys a vehicle, certain implied warranties apply unless they are expressly waived. The most important is the Implied Warranty of Merchantability. Tennessee Code Annotated §47-2-314 states, “[u]nless excluded or modified, a warranty that the goods shall be merchantable is implied in a contract…” This means they must be “fit for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used….” Therefore, if the seller wants to exclude the warranty of merchantability, there must be language to that effect in the contract, and the language “must mention merchantability and in case of a writing must be conspicuous…” (Tennessee Code Annotated §47-2-316).
If there is language in the contract that excludes the Implied Warranty of Merchantability, think twice about entering into that contract. This implied warranty is important because if you buy a vehicle and it does not work this implied warranty may become very important to you in a deficiency case. Remember as well that any warranty must comply with the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2301 et seq.), which requires that any warrantor who warrants a product must disclose, fully and conspicuously, in simple and readily understood language, the terms and conditions of the warranty. If this is not followed, consumers have remedies.
How Long Does the Lemon Law Last?
There are specific time frames relating to Tennessee Lemon Law claims to be observed. Under the Tennessee Lemon Law, consumers have either one year or the new vehicle warranty period to report a defect, whichever occurs first. Since most new vehicle warranties are for more than one year, you have one year to file a Tennessee Lemon Law claim.
Through their authorized dealership, the manufacturer has a duty to repair any defects. However, Tennessee law specifies that if the same flaw has been worked on at least three times without remedy or if the vehicle is out of service for more than 30 days, it qualifies for a claim under the terms of the Tennessee Lemon Law.
How to File a Lemon Law Claim
Consumers may file a Lemon Law claim in Tennessee without an attorney, but your chances of prevailing against a car company are slim. This is because they employ teams of lawyers to prevent losses; these attorneys have numerous tactics to delay or refute Lemon Law claims and keep from admitting the car company allowed an expensive new vehicle with defects to be sold to an innocent consumer. If you are wondering how to file a Lemon Law claim in Tennessee, your best action is to contact a Debtor Protection Attorney with Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC in Franklin, TN. Lawsuits filed in any court are tricky and require a lawyer to represent your interests and confront the tactics of car company lawyers. Contact our office immediately if you have purchased a defective new car, truck, or SUV in Tennessee. We can help.