A Guide To Understanding Georgia Lemon Law

by : Kevin Bishop

Lemon law protects a consumer who has unknowingly purchased an automobile product that does not meet stipulated performance standards. An automobile with a defect, which seriously impairs its performance and safety is termed a lemon. Lemon law is so called because 'lemon' in slang means bad.

Lemon laws are state laws in US. While, broadly the same in all states, they differ in details. These details are important as they can affect the outcome of a legal case. In Georgia the Lemon law, in statute books, is known as the Motor Vehicles Warranty Rights Act. It is administered by the Office of Consumer Affairs and seeks redressal of violated consumer rights.

When are you eligible under the Georgia Lemon law?

The answer to three questions below will decide your eligibility to file a case.

(1) Who falls under this law? Firstly, individuals who have purchased, leased or transferred a vehicle primarily for personal use. Secondly, a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation that owns or leases not more than three new motor vehicles for commercial use and has ten or less employees and a net income, after taxes, of $100,000 per year or less under federal law.

(2) Which vehicles fall under this law? All new motor vehicles purchased or leased and registered in Georgia with the purpose of transporting people and property over public highways. Demonstrator vehicles are also eligible provided they are new and carry a manufacturer's warranty as a condition of sale.

(3) Which vehicles do not fall under this law?

- Vehicles not self-propelled
- Vehicles that had a titled owner other than the dealer and yourself
- Used vehicles
- Vehicles purchased under 'as is' condition. This implies you bought the vehicle knowing its condition at the time of purchase
- Trucks having a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds and more

When is your vehicle eligible under Lemon law?

(1) Under Georgia law your car must be presented for repair of serious defect within the first year of purchase or before 12,000 miles. This is called the "lemon law rights period" and vehicles submitted for repair outside this period are ineligible under this law.

(2) The manufacturer must be allowed at least one repair of a serious defect in the braking or steering systems during the "lemon law rights period"; at least two repairs of other serious defects during the first 24 months or 24,000 miles with at least one failed repair attempt during the "lemon law rights period"; at least three repairs on any other malfunctioning in the first 24 months or 24,000 miles, with at least on e failed attempt during the "lemon law rights period". This period can be extended under special circumstances.

(3) The vehicle must have been out of service for repairs for at least 30 days during the first 24 months or 24,000 miles with at least 15 days during the "lemon law rights period"

Legal Proceedings

Firstly, you must have all documents relating to repair attempts. These include diagnosis of the defect, details of work done and parts replaced and the dates and the odometer readings when the vehicle was presented for repairs. Keep a record of the days your vehicle was out of service. Remember manufacturers have won many cases due to lack of attention to details on the part of the consumer.

Do not approach the manufacturer without an attorney. Alternatively you can consult the state run OCA. They will provide all relevant information and, if needed, will also help set up an arbitration hearing. All this comes free.