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Michigan Lemon Law

THE 6 MOST COMMON DEALER AND MANUFACTURER TACTICS So your vehicle has been out of service 4 times for the same problem. Or it has been out of service for 30 cumulative days. It's a Lemon, right? You should be able to show the manufacturer your repair invoices and get your vehicle repurchased or replaced immediately. Case closed. In reality, sometimes it's not so easy. Auto manufacturers may use some tricks to frustrate you and prevent you from getting that repurchase or replacement. Common manufacturer defenses can generally be lumped into 6 categories.

1. No substantial impairment

Probably the most common manufacturer tactic used to prevent you from recovering what you deserve is to argue that there is no substantial impairment. In other words, they might say the problem(s) with your vehicle are not serious enough for you to recover under the law. What problems ARE serious? For example, are squeaky brakes a substantial impairment? What if your vehicle is pulling to the left or right? What about oil leaks, water leaks, engine noise, transmission noise, a bad smell, vibration, engine warning light on, electrical problems? The Lemon Law says that a defect or condition must exist that substantially impairs the use or value of the new motor vehicle to the consumer [and] has been subject to a reasonable number of repairs. {(MCL 257.1403(5)(a)}. The Lemon Law also indicates that a defect or condition which prevents the new motor vehicle from conforming to the manufacturer's express warranty if not repaired would allow a consumer to recover damages. (MCL 257.1402).

To understand if your problem is substantial, and to effectively prosecute your case, you have to employ an attorney who is an expert in the language of the Lemon Law who has dealt with this issue hundreds of times and will fight for your rights. In response to a "substantial impairment defense," Adam S. Alexander, Esq. has utilized creative legal strategies, expert testimony and other evidence to recover for his clients. Be advised that the vast majority of Lemon Law cases are settled quickly and efficiently with no trial or arbitration. However, on those rare occasions where the dispute cannot be settled, you certainly want an expert in your corner.

2. Owner abuse/lack of maintenance

Another tactic is the owner abuse theory. The manufacturer will claim that you didn't properly maintain your vehicle, drove your vehicle incorrectly, or added after market items which were the root cause of the defect. This tactic is most common in high performance vehicles or vehicles with after market components or parts such as stereo equipment, (electrical problems), components added to boost power, (transmission and engine defects), or after market tires, (pulling or vibration). However, any engine or transmission defect is a candidate for a lack of maintenance defense. Of course, you should keep your vehicle properly maintained with a documented history of timely oil changes and other maintenance. Also, consult with your dealer to be sure your after market equipment will not void your warranty or cause problems with your vehicle. Hiring a professional who is an authority on such tactics will dramatically increase your odds in a case where owner abuse is alleged.

3. Not the same problem

The Michigan Lemon Law requires that the same defect or condition be subject to the appropriate number of repairs, {(MCL 257.1403(5)(a)}. Manufacturers use this language to cloud the issues and argue that one transmission problem was not the same as the next or argue that the 2nd repair for engine noise was not the same as the 4th repair for engine noise, etc. This is often simply a legal trick to avoid liability. They will do anything to prove your vehicle was not subject to the required number of repair attempts. There are several ways to combat this manufacturer allegation and only the most seasoned and experienced Lemon Law attorney will have the background to counter it.

Additionally, with respect to the 30 days out of service requirement, recent law mandates that the 30 days out of service has to be for the same defect or condition. For example if your vehicle was out of service for severe vibration for 23 days within the first year AND your vehicle was out of service for 21 days for a stalling problem, presumably you would NOT qualify under the Michigan Lemon Law. The total is not 44 days under the previous example. The law requires 30 days for either the vibration or the stalling, (or any other defect or condition which substantially impairs the use or value of the new motor vehicle to the consumer).

4. Time limitations

The time requirements under Michigan Lemon Law are tricky and require expert evaluation. For example, Michigan's Lemon Law tells us that if your vehicle is out of service for a total of 30 or more days or parts of days within one year from the date of delivery, there is a presumption that your vehicle is a Lemon. This definition leads to several difficulties in interpretation. For example, can you include weekends as days out of service, or does this mean just business days? Do holidays count in the 30 day period? What are parts of days?

There are countless other ambiguities in the law. Another example is the 4 times out of service provision of the Lemon Law. Does this mean 4 times within the first two years? What if the fourth time occurs over two years after the first repair? What if your vehicle is subject to 4 repairs within the first year and then the dealer fixes it on the 5th attempt?

Without an attorney who has litigated these time limitation issues, and who is up to speed on the very latest case law and statutory interpretation, the manufacturer will take advantage of you. Manufacturers have endless resources and power. They hire attorneys who are well versed in Lemon Law analysis and will utilize the time limitation language in the law to defeat you. You need to fight all this power and these resources with someone who can stand up to the manufacturer, who knows the law cold and is willing to fight for your rights.

5. Business purposes

The Lemon Law says that a consumer is "A person who purchases or leases a new motor vehicle for personal, family, or household use, {(MCL 257.1401(a)(I)}. Manufacturers will sometimes argue that you are not entitled to use the Lemon Law if:

A. You use your vehicle for business. For example if there is a logo on your truck or mini van or if you use your vehicle in connection with construction, hauling, transporting, etc. (Simply using your vehicle to drive to and from work does NOT mean your vehicle is used for business purposes).

B. You write off your vehicle for tax purposes or purchase your vehicle in the name of your business. There are several legal strategies to fight these allegations and still allow you to recover. Not every attorney knows how to defeat this argument. You need an experienced attorney who understands how to confront and counter the business purpose defense and get you the remedy you desire.

6. Failure to provide written notification

This is a technical requirement under Michigan's Lemon Law, but judge's HAVE thrown out Lemon Law cases where this notification was not provided. MCL 257.1403(5)(a)&(b) require written notification from the consumer or his/her representative allowing the manufacturer a final opportunity to cure the defect or condition. How and when this letter is drafted is of critical import to your case. THE ALEXANDER LAW FIRM WILL DRAFT AND MAIL YOUR WRITTEN NOTIFICATION TO THE MANUFACTURER BY CERTIFIED, RETURN RECEIPT MAILING AT NO CHARGE TO YOU

Don't let this minor requirement nullify your chance to recover. Let me handle all the details so that it is done timely and properly. CAUTION! Do not assume that you don't have a case if one of these tactics appears to apply to you. If you feel like you may be subject to one of these manufacturer defenses contact me for a free Lemon Law consultation. It is crucial to let an expert know about your situation immediately. It is imperative to attack these defenses in a timely manner. Adam S. Alexander has encountered and defeated all of the above tactics, allowing his clients to recover damages despite this manufacturer maneuver.

Call Adam S. Alexander, toll free at 1 877 652 0183.

DISCLAIMER: This article is produced for informational purposes only, and may not be recreated, duplicated, published or otherwise utilized in any way whatsoever without the express written consent of The Alexander Law Firm. This article does not create an attorney client relationship between the reader/receiver and The Alexander Law Firm. The information presented should never be used as a substitute for seeking expert advice for your particular issues. We have done our best to provide you with useful and accurate information, however please be aware that laws and procedures are constantly changing and are subject to various interpretations. This article cannot substitute for the independent judgment and skills of a competent attorney or other professional. Non attorneys are cautioned against using this information in connection with a lawsuit without advice or assistance from a qualified attorney. Non attorneys are also cautioned against engaging in conduct that might be considered the unauthorized practice of law. The information in this article does not constitute legal advice.

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