An Introduction to Texas Lemon Law: Do I Have a Case?

Buying a new car is an exciting and stressful process. From setting a budget to deciding what kind of car style you like to reviewing safety ratings, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Thankfully, you’re not alone. There were over 17 million new cars sold in the United States in 2018. But what happens when you get off the lot and your brand new investment starts acting up? Worse yet, what do you do when you take it to the dealership and they can’t figure out what’s causing the problem? If you’re in Texas, you don’t have to stress. The Texas lemon law can protect your purchase.


What Is the Texas Lemon Law?

The Texas lemon law protects car buyers from unwittingly purchasing new cars that have substantial defects that hinder the use and enjoyment of the vehicle. This is a state law existing alongside the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. A car with specific defects that cannot be repaired or that keep the car owner from using their car for a specified period of time is termed a “lemon” and the car manufacturer is considered to be in breach of its warranty. At that point, the lemon law helps the consumer return the vehicle for a refund and/or helps the consumer receive compensation for certain damages they have incurred.


Who Does the Texas Lemon Law Protect?

The Texas lemon law covers owners of new vehicles purchased or leased from licensed Texas dealers or from lease companies. If people who meet these conditions have repeated serious issues with their new vehicles, then the law kicks in and the consumer is eligible to seek recourse. New vehicles are vehicles that are purchased straight from the dealership and that includes demo vehicles. Motor vehicles covered under the lemon law are cars, trucks and motorcycles.


What About Used Vehicles?

While some states’ lemon laws cover used vehicles, the Texas lemon law does not. One exception to the used vehicle exclusion, however, is if the used vehicle is still covered under the manufacturer’s existing warranty – not the extended warranty. Consequently, certified preowned vehicles purchased in Texas often qualify. If the used vehicle is still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, then you can use the Texas lemon law to compel the manufacturer to repair any issue that arises under the warranty. Note that the car must be titled and registered in Texas in order for a used car consumer to seek relief under the lemon law. What if you’re outside the warranty? If you’re considering purchasing a car that’s outside of the manufacturer’s warranty, then it’s imperative that you take steps to protect yourself. First, run car history reports from multiple providers – sometimes report providers do not have the most up to date information about the vehicle. Then spring for an inspection. Remember, an inspection is much less expensive than buying a car that turns out to be a total loss. The Texas lemon law is also not your only recourse when you purchase a vehicle that turns out to be a lemon. The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act picks up where the lemon law leaves off. If you believe the dealer misrepresented the condition of the car, then you can potentially use the DTPA to recoup your loses.


What Makes a Vehicle a Lemon?

There are several tests, or legal standards, that a court uses to determine whether your vehicle is a lemon. You don’t have to pass all the tests, so long as you can demonstrate that your car passes one of these tests and that you have allowed the manufacturer a reasonable number of attempts to repair your car.


The Four Times Test

You have to take your car to the dealership for repair four times or more for the same substantial defect within the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership, whichever comes first. If you have done this and the problem still exists, then your vehicle can be classified as a lemon.


The Serious Safety Hazard Test

This test refers to a life-threatening malfunction that keeps you from using your vehicle as you normally would or that creates a risk of fire or explosion. Your car is classified as a lemon under this test if you have taken your vehicle to the dealership for the repair of a serious safety hazard two or more times during the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership, whichever comes first and the problem hasn’t been fixed.


The 30 Day Test

The 30 day test allows you to classify your car as a lemon if it has been out of service for repair due to a defect that hinders you from using the car or reduces the market value of your car, and that defect is covered under the warranty. If this defect has caused your vehicle to be out of service for repair for a total of 30 or more days during the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership and the problem still exists, then it is a lemon. This test also requires that the dealer failed to give you a comparable loaner vehicle.


How Does the Process Work?

In order to file a claim under the Texas lemon law, you must first send written notice to the manufacturer and give them the opportunity to repair the defect. You should make sure to obtain a repair order each time you take it in for repair, even if the problem isn’t fixed. Gather together all supporting documents such as the purchase paperwork, and any documentation of repair attempts. Lastly, you file a written complaint and pay a $35.00 filing fee. You must file your claim within six months following the earlier of the expiration of the warranty, 24 months after the purchase, or 24,000 miles following the date of delivery. Once you file your complaint, it may go to a hearing before an administrative law judge who will determine whether your car is a lemon. Bring all supporting documentation and witnesses with you to your hearing. Texas attempts to have all hearings within 150 days after receiving your complaint. If the 150 day period expires, then you can use the lemon law in a court of law. Unfortunately, reporting a lemon to the state of Texas and receiving compensation for your lemon can be a rather costly process. Fortunately, buying Lemon Proof prevents you from having to pay thousands of dollars in attorneys fees and other out of pocket costs to pursue your claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer. Lemon Proof pays all attorney fees for you saving customers thousands and thousands of dollars if their car turns out to be a lemon. If you have additional protection such as Lemon Proof, Lemon Proof will file a report that your car is a lemon in addition to the process mentioned above. You will have to describe the problem you’re having and give information about the dealership that has been servicing the car.


Worried Your Car Is a Lemon?

Purchasing a new car is no small investment. There’s nothing worse than finding that your big investment could potentially be a big loss. Contact us today to buy Lemon Proof protection.