The Arkansas Lemon Law
The Arkansas lemon law was created to protect people who buy or lease defective vehicles, allowing them to have a replacement vehicle or a refund.
Does the AR Lemon Law Cover All Vehicles?
The lemon law in Arkansas covers new vehicles that are purchased or leased in Arkansas. The coverage lasts for 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever is later (note that this is not the norm—most states have coverage that ends when the earliest threshold is reached).
If you bought a used vehicle inside the 24 month/24,000 mile period, you have coverage for that vehicle.
All vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds are covered. Motorhomes (recreational vehicles, or RVs) are also covered, but only for the chassis and drivetrain. The living quarters are not covered by the Arkansas lemon law.
The lemon must have been repaired at least three times, or have been out of service for repairs for 30 days or more. And the defect must substantially impair the safety or your use of the vehicle, or substantially reduce its market value.
If the defect could cause death or serious injury, then only two repair attempts are needed before claiming that the vehicle is a lemon. Typical defects in this category include brake failure and a steering wheel that locks.
The law does not cover your vehicle if the defect was the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or repairs.
I Have an Arkansas Lemon. What Can I Do?
To initiate a claim, you must contact the manufacturer (not the dealer). Send a letter stating that you have a lemon vehicle that has been in for repairs three times (or out of service at least 30 days) and that the manufacturer has one more chance to repair the defect, or you will be demanding a replacement or refund.
To back up your claim, photocopy and attach all your records, including notes, service orders and work invoices, and any other supporting documentation. Send your letter, along with all the copies, by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. Remember to keep a copy of your letter for your records.
You must have a copy of your letter, and the return receipt verification, before you can file your claim under the Arkansas lemon law.
The manufacturer then has ten calendar days to schedule a final repair attempt. If the attempt is not scheduled, or is not performed within ten days, or the defect still exists after the repair attempt, you can demand a replacement or refund.
Refund or Replacement?
You can accept a replacement, or say no to it and demand a refund.
If you accept a replacement, any financing done through the manufacturer cannot place any obligations upon you beyond those in the original financing contract. You are required to transfer title and registration to the new vehicle.
If you choose a refund, you will receive the following...
The manufacturer is entitled to deduct a reasonable use fee based on the number of miles you drove the vehicle before bringing it in for the first repair attempt. This is a very good reason for reporting all defects, no matter how minor, as soon as you detect them.
If you leased the vehicle, your leasing contract ends when you return the lemon vehicle, and you cannot be penalized for ending the lease early. You'll be reimbursed any leasing fees you paid, less the reasonable use fee.
Arbitration or Law Suit?
It's possible that the manufacturer will not accept your Arkansas lemon law claim without an arbitration hearing. You will have to use the manufacturer's or a third party's informal dispute resolution procedure. You must use it if you plan to use the reasonable number of repair attempts criterion noted above.
The arbitration decision is binding on the manufacturer, but not on you. If you accept the decision, the manufacturer has 30 days to provide a refund or replacement. If you disagree with the decision, you are then free to file a lemon law suit in court.
If you plan to file a suit, I recommend that you contact a lemon law attorney, a lawyer who is experienced with the lemon law in Arkansas. If you win, you can receive reasonable attorney's fees, so it's to your advantage to check with a lemon law lawyer before starting your case.
Arkansas Lemon Law Summary
If you own a lemon vehicle in Arkansas, you have 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever is later, during which to initiate a claim against the manufacturer. Don't delay, as the sooner you report any defect, the lower your reasonable use deduction will be. This means more money in your pocket if you choose a refund.
NOTE:The information here is not legal advice and is only presented to you so you can know your options if you purchased a lemon. As with any legal issue, you should seek the advice of a qualified attorney.
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