Michigan Lemon Law - Final Repair Attempt
Your Lemon Law case begins with a final repair opportunity
One Last ShotMichigan’s Lemon Law, like most other States, requires the consumer to provide the auto manufacturer with one final repair attempt to fix the defect. This is a requirement. In other words, if your vehicle meets the minimum threshold for repairs (at least 3 repair attempts for the same substantial defect/condition, and/or at least 25 out of service within the first year for the same substantial defect/condition), you STILL have to allow a final repair attempt.
If your vehicle, for example, has been out of service for 100 days, you presumably will NOT win a Lemon Law case if you don’t first allow this final repair attempt. If your vehicle, for example, has been subject to repair on 10 occasions for the same defect, you presumably will NOT win a Lemon Law case if you don’t first allow this final repair attempt.
The Lemon Law also specifies the way you must notify the auto maker of your desire to provide them with a final repair opportunity. The request must be a “written notification, by return receipt service.” If you send a letter that is not certified or otherwise not delivered by return receipt, it probably doesn’t count. Nor does an email notification, verbal notification or text.
The Contents of the Notification LetterWhat should you put in the letter? Let me first say that this letter is very important. It is the commencement of your effort to get out of that Lemon vehicle. It will also be evidence in your Lemon Law case and an exhibit at your trial (if your case gets that far). Accordingly, it must be expertly crafted. My strong advice is to hire an experienced Lemon Lawyer to draft this letter and handle your case. However, if you wish to do it yourself, there are a few items that must be included.
1. Your name, address, email address and contact number
2. The year/make/model of the vehicle
3. Purchase/Lease date
4. The vehicle identification number
5. A description of the defect(s), including how many prior repair attempts/days out of service
6. A statement that this letter is notice of the need for repair of the defect or condition in order to allow the manufacturer an opportunity to cure the defect or condition.
You should mail this letter, (certified, return receipt requested), to the manufacturer at the address provided in your owner’s manual. Other legal language should also be included in this letter, however this particular blog will focus only on the Michigan Lemon Law. Again, it is prudent to hire a lawyer to handle your Lemon Law case front to back, including this final repair letter.
Language in the StatuteMichigan Lemon Law MCL 257.1403(5)(a) and (b) says:
"The consumer or his or her representative, before availing himself or herself of a remedy provided under subsection (1), and any time after the third attempt to repair the same defect or condition, (or after the vehicle has been out of service for at least 25 days in a repair facility) shall give written notification, by return receipt service, to the manufacturer of the need for repair of the defect or condition in order to allow the manufacturer an opportunity to cure the defect or condition. The manufacturer shall notify the consumer as soon as reasonably possible of a reasonably accessible repair facility. After delivery of the vehicle to the designated repair facility, the manufacturer has 5 business days to repair the defect or condition."
The first part of this provision discusses the final repair notice requirement. The last sentence indicates what the manufacturer must do after receiving the notification. This part is tricky. The language: “The manufacturer shall notify the consumer as soon as reasonably possible of a reasonably accessible repair facility”, is horribly written. What is “as soon as reasonably possible”? Who knows. Other States’ Lemon Laws literally tell you exactly how many days are “as soon as reasonably possible”. For example, Georgia’s law gives the manufacturer 7 days to set up the final repair: “By not later than the close of business on the seventh day following receipt of notice from the consumer, the manufacturer shall notify the consumer of the location of a repair facility that is reasonably accessible to the consumer.” Michigan’s law is confusing. And, as of this writing, no Michigan court has reviewed this language and determined what “as soon as reasonably possible” means.
However, it is very clear that the manufacturer has only 5 business days to repair the defect after the vehicle is delivered to the repair facility. The statute does not define business days but I would argue that if the service department is open, this represents a business day.
5 Business Days to Repair the DefectManufacturers are usually careful to get this final repair accomplished within the maximum 5 business days. If they don’t, you presumably have a Lemon, and should be receiving a repurchase or trade offer as mandated by law.
If they do get it in and out of the service department within 5 business days, is the problem really fixed? We won’t know that until you drive the vehicle around for a while. Some defects are intermittent, (see my guide on intermittent defects here https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/lemon-law-intermittent-defects), and may not reveals themselves for weeks or months. So how do you proceed? The answer to this question depends on the nature and severity of your vehicle’s defect(s), the year/make/model of your vehicle, and how many previous repairs/days out of service your vehicle has. Something you should understand is that if the vehicle is literally fixed within these 5 business days, and never has another problem ever, you presumably do not qualify for Lemon Law remedies in Michigan. During this final repair period, you need to work closely with your lawyer and make the best strategic decisions based on your specific vehicle history.
ConclusionIn sum, to set your case up properly, you should send the final repair letter as described above. My clients have received repurchase offers without the final repair process. However, it is prudent to follow the mandates of the law to make sure you are on the winning side.