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What happens when a new car is plagued with problems or constantly in need of repairs? Thanks to the Arkansas New Motor Vehicle Quality Assurance Act (known as the Arkansas Lemon Law), for Arkansas car buyers, the answer is: the buyer can force the manufacturer to make it right. Together with the Federal Lemon Law (formally titled the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act), the Arkansas Lemon Law provides consumers with important protections and legal rights when the unthinkable occurs: they are sold a “lemon.”
What Qualifies As a Lemon?
The Arkansas Lemon Law generally provides protection for any motor vehicle which is licensed, purchased, or even leased in the state of Arkansas, so long as it is primarily intended for road travel. However, the law does not cover mopeds or motorcycles, nor does it cover the living facilities in a motor home. Vehicles over 13,000 pounds (other than motor homes) are also excluded. Fortunately, the Federal Lemon Law extends to all consumer products – including cars, motorcycles, and even household goods.
To qualify as a lemon under the Arkansas Lemon Law, a covered vehicle must have a qualifying defect, referred to in the law as a “nonconformity.” This term refers to a defect or problem with the car which “substantially impairs” the use, safety, or market value of the car.
Thus, only serious or severe problems qualify for relief under the Arkansas Lemon Law. This does not, however, mean that consumers who purchase new cars with “small” problems have no legal options. The Federal Lemon Law covers not just serious problems, but any problem covered by a product’s warranty. Therefore, “minor” issues such as radio, windows, etc., are protected under the Federal Lemon Law.
Vehicles are protected under the Arkansas Lemon Law for twenty-four (24) months from the day on which the consumer receives the car, or for 24,000 miles. Unlike most states’ lemon laws, however, the Arkansas Lemon Law extends to whichever of these two (2) dates comes latest – not whichever comes first. Arkansas consumers thus have a slightly longer period of protection than car buyers in most other states.
How Long Does the Manufacturer Have to Try to Fix It?
If a car has a qualifying defect, the manufacturer is first required to fix the problem. But in many cases, a manufacturer proves to be unable to truly repair a lemon – they just keep breaking. For this reason, the Arkansas lemon law requires a manufacturer to go beyond repairs, and provide more extreme remedies if the problems are not repaired within a reasonable number of attempts or reasonable period of time.
So, what is a reasonable period for repairs? If the manufacturer has tried to repair any problem three (3) times and failed, or has tried to repair various different problems five (5) times and failed, then the manufacturer has had a reasonable opportunity to repair your vehicle. In fact, if the problem is likely to cause serious injury or death, if the manufacturer has tried to repair the problem only once and failed, then the law dictates that it has had a reasonable opportunity to make repairs. Finally, if your car has been out of service for thirty (30) total days for repairs (even if those days are not all in a row), then the manufacturer has had a reasonable opportunity to fix the problems!
However, once the manufacturer has been given its reasonable opportunity to repair your vehicle, the purchaser must then give the manufacturer notice of the continuing problems via certified mail or registered mail. The manufacturer then has one last, final chance to fix the car once and for all. If it fails to do so within a 10-day period, then the purchaser is entitled to relief under the Arkansas Lemon Law.
How Long Do I Have to Bring a Claim?
If you wish to bring a legal claim under the Arkansas Lemon Law, you must do so within two (2) years of the date on which you first made the manufacturer (or its dealer-agent) aware of the problems with the car. But, before filing a claim, you must first participate in any informal dispute resolution program (such as mediation or arbitration) which your manufacturer has in place and which has been approved by the State of Arkansas.
These timing and procedure requirements are absolute – and the failure to meet them could prevent you from filing a claim at all. An experienced Lemon Law attorney at Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® can help you to navigate the procedures required by the state and your car’s manufacturer.
What Does the Manufacturer Have to Do for Me?
If you do have a lemon under either the Arkansas Lemon Law or the Federal Lemon Law, then the manufacturer must either repurchase (refund) your vehicle, replace your vehicle or provide you with cash compensation. If the manufacturer repurchases your car and provides you with a refund, it must pay you the full, original price (less an amount for your use, which is calculated according to the law) – including any collateral charges you paid, like taxes and registration fees as well as any incidental expenses you may have incurred, such as towing or rental car fees. Finally, and equally important, the manufacturer must also pay all of the attorneys’ fees.
How Do I Get Relief?
Call or submit your information to Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® online to see if you qualify under the state or federal lemon law. Over 97% of our cases settle without going to trial. We work to get your claim settled as quickly as possible.
We work with Arkansas attorneys associated with Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® in an “of-counsel” relationship to handle lemon law claims for consumers in Arkansas. We stay informed of the newest legal developments so we can get you the best results for your lemon law claim.