The Maine Lemon Law
The Maine lemon law protects owner or lessees of motor vehicles with a serious defect, allowing them to claim compensation for the lemon vehicle.
Does the ME Lemon Law Cover My Vehicle?
The lemon law of Maine requires that your vehicle meet certain criteria before it can be classified as a lemon vehicle.
Protection is offered to purchased or leased cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, motorcycles and motorhomes (recreational vehicles, or RVs). The vehicle must still be covered by the manufacturer's express warranty, or have no more than 18,000 miles on it, or be within a three year period from the date of original delivery of the vehicle. You can be the second or third owner of the vehicle, as long as it meets one of these criteria.
The defect must substantially impair your use of or the safety of the vehicle, or substantially reduce its value. And the defect cannot be due to negligence, accident, vandalism or unauthorized repair or alteration.
You must first report the defect within the protection period defined above.
The manufacturer must have made three or more repair attempts for the same defect, or a single repair for a serious failure of the braking or steering system, and the defect must still occur after the repair attempt(s). Alternatively, the vehicle was out of service for repairs for a total of 15 business days or more for any combination of defects.
Vehicles that aren't covered include ones purchased by a government agency, ones owned by a business that registers three or more vehicles, and primarily commercial vehicles that weigh more than 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW).
I Have a Maine Lemon. What Can I Do?
If your vehicle meets the criteria above, you can demand a replacement or refund of the purchase price. You must write to the manufacturer, saying that you will give them one final repair opportunity to fix the defect. The manufacturer has up to seven business days to fix the problem.
Send your letter to the manufacturer's regional office by certified mail, return receipt requested. Include photocopies of your notes, all repair orders and work invoices, and any other supporting documentation. Photocopy your letter and keep a copy for your records. You must have this copy to start your arbitration claim.
If the manufacturer does not make a repair attempt within seven business days, or cannot fix the defect, or fixes it and it recurs, you can then request a state arbitration hearing.
Arbitration or Law Suit?
The Maine lemon law allows for two types of arbitration—an "all or nothing" state hearing and an informal dispute resolution system sponsored by or used by the manufacturer.
The manufacturer is bound by its own arbitrator's decision (you are not), and can appeal a state arbitrator's decision. If you are denied compensation, you can then use the state system, or file a suit against the manufacturer.
If you use the state system, either the manufacturer or you can appeal the decision by filing a law suit. If you decide to use the courts, I recommend that you consult a lemon law attorney, a lawyer with experience dealing with the Maine lemon law.
Refund or Replacement. Which Should I Choose?
If you choose a refund, you cannot then ask for a replacement vehicle. If the manufacturer offers you a replacement, you can decline and ask for a refund if you don't find the replacement acceptable.
If you opt for a refund through the Maine lemon law, you will receive the full contract price, including any trade-in allowance, if you purchased. If you leased the lemon, you will receive your downpayment, the trade-in allowance, and all lease payments made to date. In either case, the manufacturer can deduct a reasonable use fee based on mileage or the purchase price, whichever is less.
Your refund will also include the cost of all dealer-installed options or services; collateral charges (sales tax, document fees, and title and registration fees); interest paid on any financing; towing, rental and storage costs due to repairs (at the arbitrator's discretion); and reasonable expert witness fees.
Your refund will not include attorney's fees, time lost from work due to the defect, excise taxes, extended service contracts, rebates, or any other damages due to the defect or repair attempts. However, should you go to court and win, your attorney's fees may be covered, along with any court costs you incur.
Maine Lemon Law Summary
The lemon law in Maine covers defective vehicles for up to three years, 18,000 miles, or the length of the express warranty. After three repair attempts or 15 business days out of service, you can ask for a refund or replacement.
You can use Maine's state arbitration program, the manufacturer's informal dispute resolution system, or file a claim in court to receive your due compensation.
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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