The Virginia lemon law allows eligible applicants to receive a full refund or replacement vehicle if a defect occurs within the manufacturer’s vehicle warranty period. The defect must hinder your ability to operate the vehicle or lower the resale value of the car.

Consumers may recoup attorney fees and incidental costs as part of the settlement. If the manufacturer fails to comply with the law, further action may be taken through the Virginia court system.

Specialized attorneys are available to those looking for legal assistance after buying a car that turned out to be faulty and defective. Fees may vary. The used car lemon law is applicable to qualifying vehicles. You can review the laws for faulty vehicles in the sections below.

What is the Lemon Law in Virginia?

The Virginia lemon law, officially titled the Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, issues certain rights to the owners of newly purchased vehicles. Claims under this law must be initiated by the consumer.

Typically, a claim must be made within 18 months of the vehicle being purchased or leased. During this time, the owner must make an attempt to repair the defect under the manufacturer’s warranty.

If the manufacturer fails to repair the lemon law defect within 18 months, an extension may be issued. Depending on the circumstance, several attempts to repair the vehicle may need to be made.

There are three types of claims available to consumers. One of the following requirements must be met to qualify for the benefits under this law.

  1. There must be three or more attempts made to repair the defect by the manufacturer or certified party; or
  2. There must be one or more attempts made to repair a serious safety defect by the manufacturer or certified party; or
  3. The vehicle must be nonoperational due to qualifying defects for 30 days. The 30-day used car lemon law policy applies to certain vehicles. This rule does not apply if the repairs are halted due to war, invasion, strike or natural disasters.

The Virginia Used Car Lemon Law

In specific cases, the new car lemon law may be applied to used cars. Claims involving vehicles with previous owners have been successful despite the law’s focus on newly purchased cars.

These cases were based on the lack of clarification in the lemon law definition and the law’s emphasis on warranty limits.

How does the Lemon Law work in Virginia?

If your vehicle qualifies under the state’s lemon law act, you must send written confirmation to the manufacturer of the nonconformity defect immediately. Once the letter has been received and processed, a settlement may be reached.

There are two outcomes to a successful claim. Depending on the circumstances of ownership, you will either have the vehicle replaced or repurchased. Details for each scenario are as follows:

  • Replaced vehicles, including leased and purchased cars, must be the same model and make as the first vehicle that was issued.
  • Repurchased vehicles refer to a financed, bought or leased vehicle being repurchased by the manufacturer. Each lemon law buyback option adheres to slightly different rules.
    • If the vehicle is leased, owners will be issued collateral and incidental reimbursements, as well as an allowance from the date of purchase to the first non-conformity repair. Subsequently, the lease agreement will be terminated.
    • If the vehicle is purchased, drivers will be refunded in full. Any existing liens will be satisfied by the manufacturer. Lemon law warranty payments may also include collateral and incidental reimbursements.

In some cases, the manufacturer may process an informal settlement. It is the consumer’s choice to agree to the terms of the settlement. If an agreement is met and the manufacturer fails to deliver on the terms, the court may triple the award due to the consumer.

Additional attorney fees are typically covered by the courts after successful claims.

The Virginia state lemon law allows consumers to submit a refund application to the VA DMV for the taxes paid on the original vehicle after the manufacturer has repurchased the car. This form must be completed in full and submitted in person or by mail.

Consumers may file a claim through the attorney general’s office, the Better Business Bureau or contact the Virginia state bar association for advice on how to proceed. The attorney general’s office deals with manufacturers who are not enrolled in the Better Business Bureau system.

Virginia Lemon Law Lawyers

The Virginia state’s bar referral department offers 30 minutes consultations for a small fee. Under the law, written notifications must be sent to the manufacturer prior to a claim. Failure to do so will allow the manufacturer an additional 15 days to repair the defect.

An experienced lemon law attorney will help you collect and submit the correct paperwork to the appropriate department in a timely manner, avoiding any unnecessary delays.

The law does not cover any damage caused by neglect, abuse or consumer-modification. Similarly, the state will not recognize a defect that does not severely affect the safety, value or use of the vehicle.

Lemon law attorneys can help you better understand the details of your case and avoid your claim being rejected.

Virginia law protects consumers against violations of the Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act. If a consumer suffers a loss as a result of the law not being upheld, they may file a civil action lawsuit.

Under this provision, attorney fees and court fees will be reimbursed if a successful verdict is reached. Therefore, it is recommended to hire a lemon law attorney if you believe you have a strong case, as your fees may be recouped.

Additional Used Car Laws in Virginia

Lemon laws extend past the settlement of a consumer’s claim. Buyers have the right to be notified of a vehicle’s history before purchasing or leasing a car that was involved in a lemon law case.

If a previously defective car is sold or leased, the seller must provide a written statement of the vehicle’s history in clear, ten-point capital type. The statement must include details on why the vehicle was retuned and the circumstances of the defect.

A dealership must present these items to the new owner. After which, their responsibility is complete. A violation of a federal lemon law may result in a misdemeanor.

How to Tell if Your New Car Is a Lemon in Virginia

In order to determine whether your vehicle is covered, you must first verify that the car was purchased or leased in the state. Out-of-state vehicles are not covered under this law. The lemon law can be applied to new or used cars that meet the following situations:

  1. You have made three or more attempts to repair the same safety or non-conformity defect covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
  2. You have been unable to operate the vehicle due to a defect for more than 30 days in one year.

If one of these circumstances is correct, you may be eligible for a refund or a reimbursement. Additional restrictions may apply. Certain brands may be more likely to have lemons, so it is important to research a car before purchase.

If you are getting a used car, you can obtain a vehicle history report before purchase.

Last updated on Friday, March 15 2019.

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