Understanding the Lemon LawTennessee Motor Vehicle Commission
To view the law in its entirety, please visit www.michie.com and search for [Title 55, Chapter 24 - Motor Vehicle Warranties, Part 2].
What Is A Lemon?
A "Lemon" is a motor vehicle sold or leased after January 1, 1987, that has a defect or condition that substantially impairs the motor vehicle; and the manufacturer, its agent, or authorized dealer cannot repair the vehicle after three attempts or the vehicle is out of service for repairs for a cumulative total of 30 or more days during the term of protection. This Law is only applicable if the vehicle was bought new. Under the statute, the manufacturer must replace the motor vehicle or refund the purchase price (less a reasonable allowance for use).
"Substantially impair" means to render a motor vehicle unreliable or unsafe for normal operation, or to reduce its resale market value below the average resale value for comparable motor vehicles.
The term of protection is defined as one year from the date of original delivery or the term of the warranty, whichever comes first.
The Law is unclear about whether you have to have reported your problem during the "term of protection" in order to have a claim under the "Lemon Law." The Division has adopted the view that the problem essentially has to be reported within the first year or within the term of the warranty, whichever comes first.
What Should I Do If I Have A Lemon?
If you have a lemon, you must notify the manufacturer of the problem in writing by certified mail. The manufacturer has an additional opportunity to repair your car within 10 days. If the manufacturer cannot repair your car and the manufacturer has an informal dispute settlement procedure that complies with Federal Trade Commission regulations, the refund and replacement provisions of the Lemon Law won't apply until you submit to the procedure. You are not bound by the decision and can still seek available legal remedies, including asking a court to award a replacement vehicle or reimbursement of the purchase price (less a reasonable allowance for use), plus attorney fees and court costs.
When Can I Take Action?
You can file a lawsuit at anytime within one year from the date of original delivery of your car or within six months from the expiration of your expressed warranty, whichever is later. Extended warranties are not considered. You should consult an attorney well before the expiration of your time limit to be sure of preserving your legal rights.