What’s covered under the Alabama Lemon Law
The Alabama Lemon Law coverage only applies to NEW vehicles (cars and trucks less than 10,000-lbs). The Lemon Law provisions may be invoked in the event you have had three unsuccessful repairs for a defect or your vehicle is out of service for 30 consecutive days within 24 months or 24,000 miles from the purchase dates. One repair attempt or one day out of service must occur within the first year or 12,000 miles of ownership.
What’s the definition of a “defect” or “non-conforming condition” under the Alabama Lemon Law?
A non-conforming condition is: Any condition of a motor vehicle which shall not be in conformity with the terms of any express warranty issued by the manufacturer to a
consumer and which:
- significantly impairs the use, value or safety of the motor vehicle and
- (ii) occurs or arises solely in the course of the ordinary use of the motor vehicle, and which does not arise or occur as a result of abuse, neglect, modification, or alteration of the motor vehicle not authorized by the manufacturer, nor from any accident or other damage to the motor vehicle which occurs or arises after such motor vehicle was delivered by an authorized dealer to the consumer.
Who can invoke the Alabama Lemon Law?
Only the purchaser can invoke the terms of the Alabama Lemon Law. The vehicle must be used substantially for personal, family or household purposes.
How to invoke the Alabama Lemon Law
If the manufacturer has an established an informal dispute settlement procedure that’s documented in your owner’s manual or on its website and that settlement procedure meets the terms of federal rules and regulations, you must use that settlement procedure first before invoking the terms of the Alabama Lemon Law.
If you’re participated in the manufacturer’s informal dispute settlement process and your problem is still not resolved and you intend to invoke the terms of the Alabama Lemon Law you must notify the car or truck maker by certified mail that your vehicle has a “non-conforming” condition and that you intend to invoke the terms of the lemon law.
The notice must include the identification of the vehicle including year, make, model and VIN number and shall a description of the non-conforming condition, documentation of previous repair attempts along with identification of the facility that attempted the repairs and the dates and times of the attempted repairs.
The manufacturer has seven days to notify you of its intention to attempt a final repair at a reasonably accessible repair facility. Once you deliver the vehicle to that facility, the manufacturer has 14 days to attempt repair.
What the Alabama Lemon Law allows if the manufacturer can’t fix the defect
If you’ve followed the procedure and given the manufacturer a final opportunity to fix the defect and they are unable to do so, the manufacture shall, at your option, allow you to return the vehicle for
• Refund of the full purchase price plus all dealer preparation, undercoating, transportation charges, installed options, sales tax, license and registration fee and other government charges, plus the non-refundable portion of any extended warranty or service contracts.
• Refund of finance charges that were incurred AFTER the first report of the defect
• Refund the cost of any incidental and reasonable charges for alternative transportation during the period you were without the use of the vehicle. There shall be offset against any monetary recovery of the consumer a reasonable allowance for the consumer’s use of the vehicle.
Deductions from the refund
The manufacturer is allowed to deduct a sum for miles driven by the owner prior to the first reported incident of the defect.
Avoid these common mistakes that can ruin your chances of recovering under the terms of the Alabama Lemon Law
1) Not keeping the written service records. This is your evidence. The records should include the vehicle VIN, date of service, mileage and description of the problem. Even if the technician can’t duplicate the condition, you must keep the paperwork.
2) Allowing the service department to examine the vehicle without writing up an actual service report. Never allow the service writer or technician to check or test drive the vehicle without a written service report. In other words, never leave the dealer without documentation that you brought the vehicle in for repair.
3) Not being clear with the service writer about the actual problem. In you hear a noise, describe the noise. Do NOT try to diagnose the problem yourself or try to identify the source of the noise. That’s THEIR job. If you say the noise is coming from the tires or transmission and the technician determines those components aren’t the source of the noise and they can’t hear the noise, you’ve wasted one of your three opportunities. Be general. If you hear a clunk, just say you hear a clunk. Before you sign the service order, make sure your complaint accurately describes the condition you want addressed.
4) Not checking the service order before leaving the dealer. Make sure no changes have been made to the work order before you leave the dealer. The order must include the description of the problem.
5) Waiting too long to get the problem addressed. Remember, the first report of the problem must occur within the first year of ownership and within the first 12,000 miles.
6) Failing to provide all the necessary information in your certified letter to the manufacturer. Include all copies of your paperwork in your notice. Don’t hold anything back.
7) Giving the dealer more than three chances. The dealer is supposed to follow set procedures when they can’t fix a problem. Dealers don’t like to do that, so they try to convince you to give them more chances. Don’t fall for that. After the third chance, initiate the informal dispute resolution process and then follow through with invoking the formal notification.
8) Not allowing the manufacturer a final chance. Yeah, you have to do this. If you don’t, kiss your Alabama Lemon Law protection goodbye.