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What Is The Michigan Lemon Law?


Purchasing a new car should not have to be an experience that results in a defective vehicle. Unfortunately, there are times when new cars come with severe defects that can’t be fixed. That is why Michigan lemon laws exist.

Here, we want to discuss what is actually considered a “lemon” when it comes to a new vehicle, as well as what the lemon law says about the manufacturer’s responsibility for repairing or replacing a vehicle.

Do you qualify under the Michigan Lemon Law? Let us learn more about it in this article.

What the Law Says About New Defective Vehicles

When we examine the lemon law in Michigan, we can see that this statute is designed to protect those who have purchased new cars that have significant defects that the manufacturer is unable to fix or will not fix under the warranty (MCL 257.1403).

The law specifically defines a lemon as a new vehicle that has a defect “that impairs the use or value of the new motor vehicle to the consumer or which prevents the new motor vehicle from conforming to the manufacturer’s express warranty” that hasn’t been repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. 

In the event there is a substantial defect still after the attempted repairs, the consumer has a right to a refund or a replacement vehicle.

Individuals can file a lemon law claim within the first year of ownership or within the time frame outlined in the express written manufacturer’s warranty (whichever comes first). The lemon law gives the manufacturer, or an authorized dealer or agent, a “reasonable number of attempts” to remedy the defect. There is often confusion about what constitutes a reasonable number of repair attempts, and this generally means one of the following two situations:

  • The repairs were attempted four more times for the same issue, and the substantial defect still persists (the first repair attempt must be within the first year of ownership or during the manufacturer’s warranty period).
  • The repair attempts for the major defect or a combination of defects require the vehicle to be in a repair shop for 30 or more days during the first year of ownership (these do not have to be consecutive days).

Prior to making a lemon law claim, individuals must give the manufacturer one last chance to repair the vehicle. Essentially, this means that after the third repair attempt fails or if the vehicle has been in for repairs for a substantial amount of time already, the consumer is required to let the manufacturer know that they are giving them one final attempt to repair the vehicle or they will proceed forward with a lemon law claim.

The final repair attempt notice should be sent to the manufacturer by certified mail with a return receipt requested and to the manufacturer’s regional office. Typically, this will be listed in the owner’s manual of the vehicle. The manufacturer may choose not to use their final attempt at repair.

Vehicle Replacement or Refund

If the vehicle does qualify under the lemon law, the manufacturer is responsible for replacing the defective vehicle with another vehicle of equal value, or they have to return their money and take the vehicle back. Individuals are allowed to reject a replacement vehicle and demand a refund.

The law does allow for a reasonable allowance for deductions, which typically equates to approximately $0.10 per mile for the mileage that person had driven before the first complaint was made to the manufacturer regarding the defect.

If you have been in a vehicle accident and need legal representation, please reach out to our accident lawyers in Southfield to review your case.