Michigan Lemon Law - Frequently Asked Questions
The Michigan Lemon Law was designed to help consumers who purchase defective automobiles. Here are some answers to the most common questions regarding the law.
How many repair attempts do I need to qualify?The same defect or condition must be subject to 4 or more repair attempts within 2 years of the date of the first repair attempt. And the defect or condition must “continue to exist.”
How many days out of service do I need to qualify?A total of 30 or more days or parts of days within 1 year from the date of delivery to the original consumer.
Does the manufacturer get a final repair attempt?Yes. The final repair process is very specific and requires the consumer, (or lawyer), to provide written notice of need for final repair. The written notice must be delivered by return receipt service. The final repair must take 5 business days or less to complete.
Notably, the written notice may be mailed after only 3 repairs or 25 days out of service.
Will my lawyer have to file a lawsuit?Many Lemon Law cases are settled before litigation is necessary. However, sometimes a lawsuit is required where the manufacturer refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer.
How long will my case take?A Lemon Law case in Michigan can take anywhere from approximately 30 days to two years to complete. The very strongest cases average about 60 days to resolve.
The amount of time your case takes depends on multiple factors, including, but not limited to:
1. The strength of your case
2. The year/make/model of your vehicle
3. The defense strategy of the manufacturer
4. The court in which your lawsuit is filed, (if a lawsuit is necessary)
5. The judge that is assigned to your case
6. The experience and talent of your lawyer
7. Your risk tolerance and receptiveness to settlement options
Your lawyer will have a more specific time frame after review of your documentation.
Am I covered by Michigan’s Lemon Law if I use my vehicle for business?The Michigan Lemon law covers vehicles purchased or leased primarily for personal, family or household use. Presumably, if you acquired the vehicle mostly for use in a business, the Michigan Lemon Law may not apply.
Does the Michigan Lemon Law cover used vehicles?Sometimes. The law was designed for new vehicles. However if you purchased or leased a used vehicle that is still covered by a manufacturer's express warranty at the time of purchase or lease, that vehicle will qualify.
What vehicles are not covered?Any car, truck, van, hybrid or SUV that was purchased primarily for personal use.
Are demonstrator, (“Demo”) vehicles covered?Yes. A demonstrator vehicle can also be considered a new motor vehicle, as long as the manufacturer’s warranty is issued as a condition of sale and it otherwise qualifies as a new motor vehicle as described above.
Are motor homes, recreations vehicles or fifth wheels covered under Michigan’s Lemon Law?No. However, defective motor homes and RV’s may be covered under a breach of warranty theory and/or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
Are motorcycles, boats or ATV’s covered under Michigan’s Lemon Law?No. However, defective motorcycles, boats and ATV’s may be covered under a breach of warranty theory and/or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
What kinds of defects are covered by the Michigan Lemon Law?Any defect or condition that impairs the vehicle’s use or value. The more significant the defects are, the stronger your case will be. Many Lemon Law cases turn on whether the defect impairs the use or value of the vehicle. The consumer’s opinion on this subject is important, however your assessment of the use or value must be “reasonable”.
What type of documentation or proof do I need to make my case?The most important documents to provide your lawyer are:
1. Purchase or lease agreement
2. Finance agreement
3. Repair and maintenance invoices
4. Registration and/or title
5. All written communications with the dealer or manufacturer
Is there a cost to me to proceed under the Michigan Lemon Law?You should not be charged by a Lemon Lawyer in Michigan. Attorney fees are almost always part of any settlement or verdict.
Can I sell or turn in my vehicle?No. You cannot sell your vehicle during your Lemon Law case. Your vehicle is evidence in your case. If it is gone, your expert cannot inspect it. More importantly, the opposition’s expert can’t inspect it and they will likely file a motion to dismiss your case. If you sell, trade, dispose of, or lose possession of your vehicle, or allow it to be repossessed while your case is pending, your Lemon Law rights may be terminated.
Will my case go to trial?Most Michigan Lemon Law cases do NOT go to trial. The vast majority of cases settle prior to trial.
What do I get for having purchased a Lemon in Michigan?Michigan’s Lemon Law allows for damages including:
1. Replacement of your vehicle or refund of the purchase price;
2. Payoff of your lease or loan balance;
3. Reasonable attorney fees and costs for your lawyer;
4. Reimbursement of various costs such as auto rental fees or towing costs;
5. Reimbursement for options or other modifications installed or made by or for the manufacturer.
6. Partial reimbursement for Extended Warranties, GAP Insurance, Credit/Disability Insurance, and other dealer add-ons.
7. Minus a mileage offset, (see below).
How much is the Mileage fee?Your recovery may be reduced based on the mileage on your odometer. The Michigan Lemon Law provides a very specific formula for determining the mileage setoff:
A reasonable allowance for use is the purchase or lease price of the new motor vehicle multiplied by a fraction having as the denominator 100,000 miles and having as the numerator the miles directly attributable to use by the consumer and any previous consumer prior to his or her first report of a defect or condition that impairs the use or value of the new motor vehicle plus all mileage directly attributable to use by a consumer beyond 25,000 miles.
This calculation is confusing for some. Basically, if you have less than 25,000 miles on your odometer, your mileage setoff is capped at the time of your “first report of a defect. . .” For example, if you initially brought your vehicle for service with 5,000 miles on the odometer, your mileage setoff is capped at 5,000 miles. (This is assuming you don’t have more than 25,000 miles on the odometer, total. If you do, you simply add the excess mileage, over and above the 25,000 to the 5,000-mile cap).
Example: Assuming you are responsible for only 5,000 miles, your calculation would look like this:
5,000/100,000 x Purchase Price
The easy way to understand this is that 5,000/100,000 = 5%. If your purchase price was $20,000, your mileage setoff would be 5% of $20,000, or $1,000. Keep in mind that “mileage attributable to use by the consumer” should not include mileage on the vehicle before you purchased it, mileage that the dealer put on it either test-driving it or otherwise, or mileage to and from the service department.
Do I have to hire an attorney to represent me?No. But since lawyer fees are covered under Michigan’s Lemon Law, (see above), it is prudent to let an expert handle your case for free.
What if my vehicle is damaged?Vehicle damage may affect your case. If you qualify for a repurchase you will be charged for any damage to your vehicle that is not “normal wear and tear”. MCL 257.1407(2) indicates that the purchase price is reduced by:
“. . . an amount equal to any appraised damage that is not attributable to normal use or to the defect or condition.”
Door dings, dents, scratches, glass damage or missing items will cost you and be deducted from the repurchase calculations. I always recommend that my clients get these items repaired prior to the repurchase date because it will cost substantially more due to higher dealer repair costs. You should also consider filing an insurance claim for more severe damage.
What if I purchased my vehicle outside of Michigan?You still qualify for Michigan’s Lemon Law as long as you are a resident of Michigan.
What if I live outside of Michigan?You still qualify for Michigan’s Lemon Law as long as you purchased your vehicle in Michigan.
Do I have to go through the manufacturer’s arbitration process?No. At the time of this writing, no manufacturer, with the exception of Tesla, is forcing consumers in Michigan to arbitration.