If one has watched any amount of daytime court TV, they have likely heard of Lemon Laws. These are laws that protect consumers when they buy faulty cars, colloquially called, lemons. While watching these shows though, one may ask, do we have a Lemon Law?
Wisconsin’s Lemon Law
Yes, the 2013 Wisconsin Act 101 changed the state’s prior Lemon Law, but it did not eliminate it. It is effective for cars purchased on or after March 1, 2014, but if one purchased their car before this date, the prior law applies. Under the current law though, the amount of damages has been reduced, along with shorter times to file claims.
In the new law, the manufacturer of defective vehicles must fully refund the customer for the vehicle or replace it with a comparable new model. For leased vehicles though, they are only entitled to full refunds.
What qualifies as a Lemon?
First, the vehicle must have been purchased or leased new. Vehicles include not just trucks and cars, but also motor homes and motorcycles.
While motorcycles count, mopeds do not, and neither to trailers that are designed to be used with another vehicle. Similarly, used vehicles do not count, but consumers can still file a dealer complaint and contact an attorney to go over their potential options.
Second, the defect, also called a nonconformity, must occur during the first purchase year, before the expiration of the warranty. And, that defect must cause serious harm to its value, safety, or use.
Finally, the dealer must have been given the opportunity to fix the nonconformity at least four times. In addition, the vehicle was inoperable for at least 30 days to its defects.
The consumer is entitled to either a refund or replacement. The first choice is up to the consumer to elect a refund or replacement. If they pick refund, it must be received within 30 days after they return the vehicle. On the other hand, if the consumer chooses replacement, the manufacturer can either provide it in 30 days or provide a refund.
There are specific timeframes when notices must be sent and forms that must be used. This is why it is recommended that those who think they purchased a lemon should contact an attorney.