Lemon Law (Motor Vehicle Warranty)
by Susan A. Rancilio, O'Reilly Rancilio P.C.
The New Motor Vehicle Warranty Act (the “Act”), MCL 257.1401 et seq., is Michigan’s Lemon Law. The Act applies to new passenger cars and trucks designated for personal, family, or household use which are purchased after June 25, 1986. The Act defines a new motor vehicle to include used vehicles that are still covered by their manufacturer’s express warranty. It, likewise, applies to both purchased and leased vehicles.
The Act covers the consumer whose new vehicle has a “defect or condition that impairs the use or value of the new motor vehicle to the consumer,” and which has not been successfully repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.” The Act is triggered by either the number of days the vehicle spends in a repair facility or the number of times that it is subject to repair for the same problem or condition.A vehicle will fall under the Act if it is out of service for repairs for a total of thirty (30) or more days (or parts of days) during the term of the express warranty, or within one year from the date of delivery to the original consumer, whichever is earlier. The Act will also apply to a vehicle when four (4) repair attempts fail to correct the defect or condition. The initial repair attempt must occur within one (1) year following delivery or within the warranty, if it is shorter than a year. The four (4) repair attempts must then occur within two (2) years of the first repair attempt.The Act provides relief to a consumer only against the manufacturer or distributor of the vehicle. In order to utilize the Act’s remedies, a consumer must first put the manufacturer on notice of the defect or condition. A letter must be sent to the manufacturer “by return receipt service” – ie. certified mail. The letter must allow the manufacturer an opportunity to cure the defect or condition. If the manufacturer responds to the letter and requests a final repair attempt, the consumer must allow it. The manufacturer, however, then has only five (5) business days to correct the defect or condition. If the vehicle is not adequately repaired and the consumer has otherwise met all of the requirements of the Act, he/she is entitled to either a comparable replacement motor vehicle or to return the vehicle for a refund.
A consumer has other remedies in addition to the New Motor Vehicle Warranty Act with respect to a defective motor vehicle. In addition to the Act, or if the vehicle does not otherwise fall thereunder, there are both state and federal warranty laws which if breached provide relief. These warranty provisions apply to consumer goods (not necessarily just motor vehicles) and are not limited only to the distributor or manufacturer of the good. A warranty can be made to a consumer with respect to a good either expressly, such as in a seller’s written warranty or by implication-ie., a presumption that the good is of a certain quality or condition. If those express or implied warranties are breached, both state and federal law affords the consumer the opportunity to bring a lawsuit for damages and for revocation of acceptance (return of the good).