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Pennsylvania Lemon Law

The Pennsylvania Lemon Law was enacted for the express purpose of protecting consumers from buying or leasing new, but faulty, motor vehicles. The law seeks to make sure that the manufacturer of the vehicle fixes any problems or defects that were originally covered under the manufacturer’s warranty and were reported by the owner within one year or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Along with the inclusion of leased cars under the PA Lemon Law, the Pennsylvania Lemon Law, effective December 1, 2002, requires all Pennsylvania dealers to disclose if a used car had been repurchased as a lemon buyback. Review the changes to the PA Lemon Law.

What to do if you have a Lemon

1. Ideally, your automobile dealer should work with you to resolve the problem. It is in their best interest to take care of the problem to increase the likelihood of future car sales.

2. In the event you can't resolve the problem with the dealer, you can contact our firm by calling our toll free telephone number 1-800-MY-LEMON (1-800-695-3666), email us or complete our free lemon law case evaluation. We will do our best to resolve the claim with the automobile manufacturer as quickly as possible at no cost to you. Should the automobile manufacturer refuse to comply with lemon law requirements, we will promptly file suit on your behalf to seek compensation under the Pennsylvania Lemon Law and Federal Warranty Act. If your case settles, all fees and costs are paid by the manufacturer. Regardless of the outcome, you never pay any fees or costs.

What is the "Lemon Law" in Pennsylvania?

The lemon law is a generic term for laws that protect consumers from defective vehicles. In the state of Pennsylvania, the Automobile Lemon Law applies to any new vehicle that is both purchased and legally registered in the state of Pennsylvania for personal/family use.

Pennsylvania Lemon Law Basics

The Pennsylvania lemon law covers any consumer who buys, or leases, and registers a new motor vehicle in the state. Under the Pennsylvania Lemon Law your car may be declared a lemon if it meets all of the following conditions:
  • It has a nonconformity (a defect, or condition) the nonconformity is covered by the manufacturer's express warranty
  • The nonconformity SUBSTANTIALLY impairs the use, market value, or safety of the car
  • The nonconformity is not the result of an accident, abuse, neglect, or alteration of the car by persons other than the manufacturer or its authorized dealer
  • You reported the nonconformity at least once to the manufacturer's authorized dealer during the Pennsylvania Lemon Law Rights Period of 1 year or 12,000 miles whichever comes first.
  • You gave the manufacturer or its authorized dealer three opportunities to repair the nonconformity.

Are leased vehicles covered under the PA Lemon Law?

The PA lemon law has been amended to include leased vehicles. In Pennsylvania all vehicles leased after February 11, 2002 are covered under the PA lemon law. Unfortunately, vehicles leased before February 11, 2002 in Pennsylvania are not covered under the PA lemon law (please note that despite the lack of coverage for vehicles leased before February 11, 2002, there are still rights to compensation pursuant to the Federal Warranty Act. For further information regarding the inclusion of leased vehicles under the Pennsylvania lemon law please click here.

Are all Problems Covered under the PA Lemon Law?

The Lemon Law only covers specific problems under specific conditions. The following are not covered by the Pennsylvania’s lemon law:
  • Problems or defects that do not significantly impair the vehicle's use, value, or safety.
  • Any problem that is attributable to the vehicle owner’s own negligence.
  • Defects that are caused by an accident, vandalism, or acts of god.
  • Problems that arise from work being done by someone other than the manufacturer, an authorized dealer, etc.

What Constitutes a Defect?

The Pennsylvania Lemon Law only covers defects or conditions that substantially affect the safety, value, or use of the vehicle. However, what constitutes "substantial" is for an arbitrator, judge, or jury to decide. To have a viable case, it is necessary to prove that the use, value or safety of your vehicle has been substantially affected.

Getting Your Vehicle Fixed

Always report defects directly to the manufacturer or the dealer as soon as you discover them. One of the best favors you can do for yourself is to keep good records of your interaction with the dealership or manufacturer and keep all of your receipts. Always get a dated and detailed print out when you take the vehicle in to get it fixed. It should include any charges for parts and labor, a general description of the problem, the odometer reading at the time you brought the vehicle in for repair and also when you pick up the car, as well as a list of all work performed. It should also state the date the vehicle was brought in for repair and the date you picked up the car. Insist on receiving these statements (it's your right under the law). Store them somewhere safe.

How many times does a manufacturer have to try and repair a vehicle before you have a valid Lemon Law claim?
Generally the answer is 3 attempts. If the manufacturer cannot remedy the defect after three attempts, then the car may be deemed a lemon. Another scenario for gaining remedy is if the vehicle is off the road for 30 or more days because of a defect that is attributable to the manufacturer.

Must all 3 repair attempts occur within 12,000 miles or one year?
The Pennsylvania Lemon Law only requires the consumer to report the defect at least once during the lemon law period of 12,000 miles or one year whichever comes first. The consumer does not have to bring the vehicle in for service 3 times during that period. Therefore, if your vehicle was brought in for service at least once during the lemon law period, and you continued to service your car for the same defect after the 12,000 mile or one year lemon law period, you may still have a valid claim under the lemon law. Review a copy of the Pennsylvania Lemon Law

What if I Start having Problems After the lemon law year/mileage limitation?
You may still be entitled to compensation. There are other laws which govern warranties which may be used to assist you, including Federal Warranty Act, also known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the Uniform Commercial Code. David J. Gorberg & Associates currently represents a great number of individuals whose vehicles did not start having problems during the lemon law year/mileage limitation.
What are your Rights under Pennsylvania Lemon Law?
If you qualify under the Pennsylvania Lemon Law, you have several important rights:
  • The right to have the manufacturer replace your vehicle with a similar new vehicle.
  • The right to compel the dealer or manufacturer to repurchase your vehicle at the original price of the vehicle, including any finance charges, registration fees and taxes on the vehicle, minus an allowance for the use of the car. (The allowance for the use of the vehicle is either 10% of the purchase price of the vehicle or ten cents per mile of the vehicle up to the first problem, whichever is less.)

Refund for Purchased or Leased Vehicles

In the case of a vehicle refund, the refund is calculated by taking the full purchase price of the vehicle, and then subtracting a "reasonable allowance for vehicle use."

In addition, the refund can include the money you spent for:
  • Sales tax, license and registration fees, finance charges, and any additional costs such as these
  • Options or modifications added by the manufacturer or its authorized dealer within 30 days after delivery date
  • Trade-in value
  • Attorney fees
  • Expert witnesses
  • The filing fee for the lemon law

By "reasonable allowance for vehicle use," this means the odometer reading when first brought to the dealer or manufacturer for repair of the defect times ten cents a mile.

Let’s say your first serviced your car for a defective transmission at 8000 miles

8000 miles x 0.10 (10 cents) = 800.00

The reasonable allowance for vehicle use here would be $800.00

Replacement for Purchased Vehicles

The manufacturer can offer to replace the vehicle, although you do not have to accept their offer (opting instead for a refund). However, if the manufacturer refuses to refund your money, you can take them to court. If you do accept a replacement vehicle, and the original vehicle was financed, the manufacturer must make sure the financing is transferred from the original vehicle to the replacement vehicle. It is your responsibility to have the title and registration transferred to your new vehicle.

Can the manufacturer resell or re-lease a "lemon"? Yes, but under the revised Pennsylvania Lemon Law, effective February 11, 2002, the dealer or leasing company must have the consumer sign a written notice certifying that the consumer knows the vehicle was returned as a "lemon." If the dealer or leasing company resells or transfers ownership of a returned "lemon," the dealer or leasing company must notify the Division of Motor Vehicles so the vehicle's title can be marked accordingly.

Court Action

If the manufacturer does not accept your Lemon Law claim, we will file suit seeking compensation for you.

If you win, the manufacturer must pay costs, reasonable attorney's fees and expert witness fees.

Can I Resolve This Myself?

You probably should avoid aggravating yourself further and wasting time. First, there is a reason that all 50 states have some form of a Lemon Law. Laws are passed to remedy problems which have become widespread. However, the mere fact that there is a lemon law does not mean that you will be treated differently if you represent yourself. It still costs a manufacturer less to drag it out with an unrepresented consumer and hope you will either go away or take little or nothing, than it would cost them to buy back everyone's vehicle who made a complaint. Second, if you fail, you will have wasted precious time if you then have to hire an attorney. Third, the right law firm does NOT charge YOU an hourly attorney's fee! By being represented by the right law firm you lend legitimacy to your case. If you select a law office that limits their practice to consumer law, the manufacturer will most likely already know your law firm. If your law firm has successfully handled multiple lemon law claims, the manufacturer will know that you have someone on your side who knows what they are doing. Furthermore, if the manufacturer knows that if you do not get what you want, you have the ability and the will to file a lawsuit, you will be treated with more respect. This is because it costs the manufacturer money just to defend a lawsuit (starting from the moment you file the Complaint) as they have to send it to a qualified local law firm to defend it.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Lemon Law please call 1-800-MY-LEMON (1-800-695-3666) or email us.