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What is "Substantial Impairment" under the Michigan Lemon Law

Posted by Adam Alexander | Oct 06, 2022 | 0 Comments

We know that a vehicle must be subject to at least 3 repair attempts for the same defect or at least 25 days out of service within the first year to qualify under Michigan's Lemon Law. (Along with a final repair attempt (see  But simply demonstrating the minimum repair attempts or days in the shop will not win your case. You must also demonstrate a defect which “impairs the use or value of the vehicle.”  Unfortunately, the Michigan Lemon Law does not list specific defects which constitute impairment of use or value. Thus, you must be able to demonstrate how your vehicle's use or value has been impaired. For example, to prove impairment of value, you could show that the retail value of your vehicle is significantly less than it would be without the defect. Although a defect may be annoying, it does not necessarily impair the use or value of the vehicle.  Defects like minor cosmetic issues or loose knobs may not qualify as impairment. The line between minor and substantial can be ambiguous and difficult to ascertain, which complicates Lemon Law cases.

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 Michigan Lemon Law. Again, 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, GPS problems or electrical problems? The Michigan 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 Michigan 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 litigate 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," the Alexander Law Firm utilizes creative legal strategies, expert testimony and appraisal evidence to tip the scales in your favor. Be advised that the vast majority of Lemon Law cases are settled quickly and efficiently with no trial or arbitration. However, on those occasions where the dispute cannot be settled, you certainly want an expert in your corner. The best course of action is to call Adam Alexander. (248) 246-6353.

About the Author

Adam Alexander

My job is to help people protect their legal rights. I enjoy it. My career is focused on fighting corporate overreach and deception and representing consumers who are wronged.  Since 1996 I have helped thousands of Michigan residents fight back and pro...


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