Lemon Law

ivan hannibal lawyer madison wiWisconsin’s lemon law applies to new motor vehicle purchases and leases that are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.  Wisconsin’s lemon law does not apply to used vehicles.

In order to qualify as a lemon under Wisconsin’s lemon law, the vehicle must—within one year of the consumer taking delivery of the vehicle—either 1) suffer from a nonconformity which continues after 4 attempts to repair by the manufacturer or authorized dealer or 2) be out of service for a total of 30 days because of a nonconformity or nonconformities.  The vehicle must be made available to the manufacturer or authorized dealership for repair because of the nonconformity or nonconformities.

A “nonconformity” is a condition or defect which substantially impairs the use, value or safety of a motor vehicle, and which is covered by an express warranty applicable to the vehicle.  A “nonconformity” does not include a condition or defect which is the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification or alteration of the motor vehicle by a consumer.

If a purchased vehicle is a lemon, the consumer is entitled to receive either a comparable replacement vehicle and a refund of any collateral costs (such as car rental or towing costs), or a refund of the full purchase price of the vehicle, including any sales taxes, finance charges and collateral costs, less a reasonable allowance for use.

If a leased vehicle is a lemon, the consumer and the holder of any perfected security interest in the vehicle are entitled to receive a refund for the current value of the lease.  The consumer is also entitled to receive a refund of the amount paid under the lease plus any sales tax and collateral costs, less a reasonable allowance for use.

In order for a consumer to receive a replacement vehicle or a refund under Wisconsin’s lemon law, the consumer must inform the manufacturer of his or her election using the form prescribed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

If a manufacturer participates in an informal dispute settlement procedure, also referred to as arbitration, which is certified by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the consumer must use that procedure prior to initiating a lawsuit.

If you believe that your vehicle is a lemon call the Auto Justice Law Office for a free phone consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.  A customer who prevails in bringing a lemon law claim is entitled to recover damages as well as costs and attorney fees.

Consumers Covered

The following individuals are covered by Wisconsin’s lemon law:

  • The purchaser of a new motor vehicle, if the motor vehicle was purchased from a motor vehicle dealer for purposes other than resale
  • A person to whom the motor vehicle is transferred for purposes other than resale, if the transfer occurs before the expiration of an express warranty applicable to the motor vehicle
  • A person who may enforce the warranty
  • A person who leases a motor vehicle from a motor vehicle lessor under a written lease

Vehicles Covered

The following vehicles are covered by Wisconsin’s lemon law:

  • New vehicles purchased or leased in Wisconsin, or which a consumer accepts transfer of in Wisconsin, including cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and heavy-duty trucks
  • Executive and demonstrator vehicles not previously titled or titled by a manufacturer or dealer

Qualifying Conditions

Within one year of the consumer taking delivery, the vehicle must either:

  • Suffer from a nonconformity which continues after 4 attempts to repair by the manufacturer or authorized dealer
  • Be out of service for a total of 30 days because of a nonconformity or nonconformities
    • “Out of service” means that the vehicle is unable to be used by the consumer for the vehicle’s intended purpose as a result of either of the following:
      • The vehicle is in possession of the manufacturer or authorized dealer for the purpose of repairing or attempting to repair the nonconformity or nonconformities
      • The vehicle is in the possession of the consumer and the vehicle has a nonconformity that substantially affects the use or safety of the vehicle and that has been

Nonconformity

To be considered a lemon under Wisconsin lemon law, a vehicle must suffer from a “nonconformity”

  • A nonconformity is a condition or defect which substantially impairs the use, value or safety of a motor vehicle, and which is covered by an express warranty applicable to the vehicle
  • A nonconformity does not include a condition or defect which is the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification or alteration of the motor vehicle by a consumer
  • A consumer must make the vehicle available to the manufacturer or authorized dealership for repair of the nonconformity or nonconformities

Remedies

Purchased Vehicles

  • A consumer who purchased a lemon is entitled to either a refund or a comparable replacement vehicle
    • Refund
      • A consumer is entitled to a refund of the full purchase price of the vehicle plus any sales tax, finance charge, amount paid at the point of sale and collateral costs (such as towing and rental car fees), less a reasonable amount for use
    • Comparable New Vehicle
      • A consumer is entitled to a comparable replacement vehicle and a refund of any collateral costs

Leased Vehicles

  • A consumer who leased a lemon and the holder of any perfected security interest in the vehicle are entitled to receive a refund for the current value of the lease
  • The consumer is also entitled to receive a refund of the amount paid under the lease plus any sales tax and collateral costs, less a reasonable allowance for use

Notice & Procedural Requirements

  • To receive a comparable replacement vehicle or a refund, a consumer must inform the manufacturer of his or her election using the form prescribed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation
  • Prior to initiating a lawsuit, a consumer must, if a manufacturer participates in an informal dispute settlement procedure, which is certified by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, use that procedure