The Maryland Lemon Law

The Maryland lemon law, like the lemon laws in other states, protects you once you realize that the new vehicle you purchased is defective.

Is My Vehicle Covered by the Maryland Law?

The Maryland lemon law covers cars, light duty trucks (pickup trucks) and motorcycles that are registered in Maryland. The vehicle must have fewer than 15,000 miles on it, and be owned for less than 15 months. If you are the second owner, you could be covered by the lemon law in Maryland if the 15/15 limits haven't been reached yet.

Otherwise, the law does not cover used vehicles. If you do have a lemon used vehicle that's not covered by Maryland's law, you can always pursue a federal case under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

How Can I Tell If My Maryland Lemon Qualifies?

To qualify as a lemon, your car needs to meet a few criteria:

  • The first is that it has fewer than 15,000 miles on it, and it has been on the road for less than 15 months (see above).

  • If the problem is a failure of the brakes or steering that could not be repaired after the first attempt, your vehicle is a lemon.

  • If any other single problem impairs your use of the vehicle, or reduces its market value, and that problem could not be repaired after four (4) attempts, you have a lemon.

  • If a combination of problems keeps the car off the road for a total of 30 days or more, you own a lemon.

I Think I Have a Lemon! What Do I Do?

The sooner you act, the better. When you discover that your vehicle is a lemon, you have a very short time in which to take action. Generally, the time is about six months. So make sure that you move quickly.

The Maryland government suggests that you not wait until the required four repair attempts are made. As soon as you think you have a lemon, write to the manufacturer. Under the Maryland lemon law, you don't have to wait until after the fourth repair attempt, or a total of 30 days off the road, to begin your lemon law complaint.

If your vehicle hasn't met the repair attempts or 30 day criterion to be labeled a lemon, begin by contacting your dealer. If they can't repair the problem, take it to another dealer, who may be able to fix the problem, at no cost to you since it's still under warranty.

At the same time, write to the manufacturer, listing the problem you've had, the year, make and model of your vehicle, along with its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and copies of all repair orders from the various repair attempts. Send this letter by certified mail, with a return receipt requested so that you have proof they received it.

Also send a copy to the Maryland Consumer Protection Division with a completed lemon law complaint form.

The manufacturer has 30 days from receipt of your letter to fix the issue.

Be sure to keep copies of all correspondence with the manufacturer and the dealer, including notes of any phone calls. Include the dates of those calls.

I Definitely Have a Lemon!

If your vehicle meets the Maryland lemon law criteria for a lemon, and you did not start a complaint before it met those criteria, send a letter to the manufacturer with a copy to the Maryland Consumer Protection Division. Send it by certified mail with a return receipt requested.

As discussed above, list the make, model, year and Vehicle Identification Number, along with the name of the dealership where you bought your lemon. Describe the problem(s) your car has, and what you've done to remedy the problem(s). Include copies of all repair orders.

As above, the manufacturer has 30 days from receipt of your letter to fix the problem.

It's Been 30 Days. My Car Still Doesn't Work Properly!

If the manufacturer was unable to fix your car within the mandatory 30 day period, it owes you a replacement or a refund, which is your choice to make. The replacement must be a comparable model to what you have now, one that is acceptable to you. If you opt for the refund, the manufacturer must cover the full purchase price plus license and registration fees, plus any other government charges.

The manufacturer can deduct up to 15% of the purchase price for your use of the vehicle before its replacement (typically 1% per month you used it).

You can also received a refund of the excise tax, but you will have to ask for the refund from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. The manufacturer is required by law to notify you in writing that you are eligible for this refund.

Do I Have Any Other Options?

Your other options include the manufacturer's informal complaint resolution process, which is binding on the manufacturer, but not on you. If you aren't satisfied with the arbitrator's decision, you can go to court.

You may want a lemon law attorney on your side for the arbitration process, if you decide to use it. But you should definitely have one of these specialist lawyers by your side if you take the manufacturer to court.

You must file your lawsuit within three (3) years from the date you took possession of your vehicle.

Maryland Lemon Law—Summary

If you own a lemon vehicle in Maryland, you have options. As soon as you think you have a lemon, start the Maryland lemon law complaint process. The sooner you begin, the sooner you should be able to receive a replacement vehicle or 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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