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Consumers in Oregon, like consumers in all states, rely heavily on their cars, trucks, and vans to get them from place to place and to safely transport their families. When they buy or lease a new vehicle, they expect it to perform and to meet these needs and carry out these duties perfectly.
Unfortunately, at times they do not. When this happens – when an unlucky customer gets a “lemon,” it can often feel overwhelming and hopeless. But this is not the case – both state and federal law require manufacturers who manufacture “lemons” in Oregon to make it right.
Covered Vehicles and Defects
The Oregon Lemon Law protects Oregonians who buy or lease new or used passenger motor vehicles, so long as those vehicles are used primarily for personal, family or household purposes. The Federal Lemon Law (the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) however, provides protection for consumer vehicles of all types, as well as other types of household goods such as electronics, appliances, and other goods. The Oregon Lemon Law provides this protection for either two (2) years after the date of purchase or the first 24,000 miles of the buyer’s use, whichever comes first.
The purchaser must report any problems to the manufacturer (which many be done through an authorized dealer or other agent), during this period in order to receive protection under the Oregon Lemon Law. By contrast, the Federal Lemon Law, although it does contain deadlines the consumer must meet, extends protection throughout the entire period of the manufacturer’s warranty.
In addition, not all problems or defects qualify for protection under the Oregon Lemon Law. A defect is covered under the Oregon Lemon Law if it substantially reduces the vehicle’s safety, market value, or ordinary use. The Federal Lemon Law, by contrast, protects against defects in all aspects of the car covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, even if they do not have a “substantial” impact on the safety, market value, or use of the car.
Before bringing suit under the Oregon Lemon Law, a consumer must first give the manufacturer (typically through its authorized dealers) a “reasonably opportunity” to fix the problem or problems. This typically means a “three strikes” rule: if the manufacturer tries to fix the problems three (3) times and fails, then it is out of luck.
This rule, however, is altered if the problem with the vehicle is likely to injure or kill the driver or others, in which case the manufacturer has only one (1) chance to successfully make repairs. In addition, if the repairs take a total of thirty (30) business days or more (sixty (60) days for motor homes), even if these days are spread out over several visits, then a “reasonable opportunity” was given and the manufacturer is out of time.
Once the manufacturer has had a reasonable opportunity to fix the problems, then the consumer must provide it (not its dealer) with written notice that the problem(s) still exist. The manufacturer then has one final, brief opportunity to fix the problems once and for all. If it fails, then it is in violation of Oregon Lemon Law and the car buyer is entitled to relief.
How to Get Lemon Law Relief
If your car’s manufacturer has registered a dispute resolution process with the state (such as arbitration or mediation), then you are required to use this procedure before filing suit in court. If, however, you are not satisfied with the results of this process, you can still file suit to enforce your rights.
Under the Oregon Lemon Law, you are entitled to either a full refund (with the return of the lemon to the manufacturer), or a replacement vehicle. If you receive a refund, the manufacturer must return the purchase or lease price and other fees and expenses you incurred such as sales or other taxes, licensing, titling, or registration fees, finance charges (including prepayment penalties), charges for dealer-installed options (such as rustproofing or undercoating), and even any aftermarket additions to the car which cannot be removed without damage. The manufacturer may, however, deduct a small allowance to reflect the consumer’s use of the vehicle, which is calculated according to Oregon Lemon Law.
Call Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® or submit your information to us online to see if you qualify under either the State or Federal lemon laws. You could be entitled to a refund, a replacement vehicle or cash compensation for your lemon. Over 97% of our cases settle without going to trial and we work diligently to get your claim settled as quickly as possible.
We work with Oregon attorneys associated with Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® in an “of-counsel” relationship to handle lemon law claims for consumers in Oregon. We stay informed of the newest legal developments so you can get the best results for your lemon law claim.