The Delaware Lemon Law
The Delaware lemon law covers your new vehicle purchase or lease should a serious defect develop during the protection period.
Does the DE Lemon Law Cover My Defective Vehicle?
The lemon law in Delaware covers new passenger motor vehicles, including motorhomes (recreational vehicles, but not including the living quarters of the RV). The law does not cover motorcycles.
The defect must substantially reduce the value of the vehicle or substantially impair the safety or your use of the vehicle.
You are covered for one year from the date you took delivery of the vehicle. You can be the second owner of the vehicle, as long as the one-year coverage period has not expired.
The manufacturer must have made at least four repair attempts, or the vehicle must have been unavailable due to repairs for a total of 30 calendar days or more.
The defect cannot be due to abuse, neglect, or unauthorized repairs or modifications to your vehicle.
I Have a Delaware Lemon! What Do I Do Now?
If your lemon meets the criteria listed above, begin by collecting all your notes, service orders and work invoices for the repairs, and any other documentation. Photocopy it all.
Then write a letter to the manufacturer (the address is in your owner's manual), stating that you have a lemon and want a replacement or refund. Include the copies of your documentation, and remember to photocopy your letter and keep the copy for your records. Send the letter by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested.
If the manufacturer has an informal dispute resolution procedure that is approved by the Delaware Division of Consumer Protection, then you must use that procedure before you can use the Delaware lemon law's provisions. If the manufacturer has no procedure, or the procedure is not approved by the government, then you are free to use the lemon law to claim your compensation.
The mediator's decision is binding on the manufacturer, but is not binding on you. You're free to pursue a law suit if you don't agree with the decision.
Should I Accept a Refund or Replacement?
In Delaware, you have the right to decline a replacement vehicle and ask for a refund of your purchase price.
If you decide on a replacement, the manufacturer must also reimburse you for related fees, such as dealer preparation fees, fees for transferring registration to the new vehicle, sales tax, etc. If you financed the vehicle through the manufacturer or a subsidiary, any refinancing agreement cannot place upon you any financial obligations beyond those in the original agreement.
If you decide on a refund, you will receive the full purchase price, plus dealer preparation fees and delivery charges, sales tax, registration fees, and trade-in allowances. The manufacturer is allowed to deduct a reasonable use fee based on the number of miles you drove the vehicle before you first reported the defect. This is a very good reason for reporting every problem as soon as you detect it.
Do I Need To Go to Court?
Most claimants under the Delaware lemon law resolve their disputes informally via the manufacturer's dispute resolution procedure. However, if you don't agree with the decision, or the manufacturer refuses to accept your claim, you may have to go to court.
If you decide to file a suit, I recommend that you consult a lemon law attorney, a lawyer who is experienced in lemon law cases in Delaware.
Note that you may be awarded lawyer's fees if you win in court. However, if the court rules that your case is frivolous in nature or that you brought it in bad faith, the court may award lawyer's fees to the manufacturer, which you'll be required to pay.
Delaware Lemon Law Summary
If your vehicle has a serious defect and is still within one year of the original delivery date, you're eligble for a refund or replacement, as long as four repair attempts have been made, or the car has been unavailable for use for at least 30 calendar days.
Report each problem as soon as you detect it. The sooner you reach the four attempts/30 days threshold, the sooner you can begin the mediation proceedings. And the lower your reasonable use deduction, which will put more money into your pocket should you decide on 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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