The Ohio Lemon Law

The Ohio lemon law ensures that you have recourse to compensation if your new vehicle turns out to be a lemon.

What Vehicles Are Covered By the Lemon Law in Ohio?

The OH lemon law covers any new vehicle with a problem, or problems, that is covered by the manufacturer's warranty and impairs the value, safety or use of that vehicle. Cars (for personal use), trucks (noncommercial—used exclusively for personal use, and designed to carry no more than a one-ton load), and motorcycles are covered.

These new vehicles are covered for the first year of your ownership, or the first 18,000 miles driven, whichever occurs first.

Does My Defective Vehicle Qualify as an Ohio Lemon?

If you owned your car, pickup or motorcycle for less than a year when the first problem was reported to the manufacturer, or drove it for fewer than 18,000 miles before the problem, you should be eligible for compensation. Even if the repairs continue beyond the one year/18,000 mile cutoff point.

However, you need to be able to prove that you followed all the manufacturer's routine maintenance requirements. If you can't prove that (e.g., you have no maintenance records from the dealership), the manufacturer may claim that the problem is due to poor care and maintenance, not to any defect.

Your vehicle is considered a lemon if any of the following apply to your situation...

  • The vehicle has been in for 3 or more repair attempts for one problem, and that problem continues to exist, or occurs again.

  • It has been in the repair shop for 30 or more days (cumulative) during the first year/18,000 miles. This can be for the repair of any number of different problems.

  • It has had 8 or more repair attempts for multiple problems.

  • It has had one unsuccessful repair attempt of a problem that could cause serious injury or death.

I Have an Ohio Lemon. What Now?

If at least one of the four points above applies to your situation, you have a legal right in Ohio to ask for a replacement vehicle or for a refund of the entire purchase price of your lemon.

Start by sending a certified letter to the manufacturer (the address is in your owner's manual—if you can't find the address, ask your dealer). In your letter, list all the problems you have experienced with this vehicle, all the repair attempts that dealers have made (when they were made and what was done), along with your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). Also say whether you want the vehicle replaced or a refund of the full purchase price. Remember to keep a photocopy of your letter for your own records.

Tip: Send photocopies of all the service orders for every instance of a problem. Dealers must give you an itemized list of every problem and the work done to correct it, parts used, and the cost of the parts, even if the warranty covers the repairs.

Should I Choose a Refund or Replacement?

The full purchase price includes what you paid for the car, transportation to the dealer, preparation, delivery to you, dealer-installed accessories, and any other services that were included before you received the vehicle. The full price also includes financing and credit insurance costs, plus taxes and other government charges, which include state sales tax and license/registration fees.

If you think that a replacement will have similar problems, go for the refund. If you want to get a smaller or bigger vehicle, you may want to choose the refund option. If you're happy with your make and model, ask for a replacement.

What If the Manufacturer Doesn't Agree?

The manufacturer may ask for one more chance to fix the problem. You aren't required to give one more chance, but it may make it easier to get your replacement or refund sooner if you do allow it.

If the manufacturer refuses your claim, you can go to arbitration, an informal process that is quicker and cheaper than a court case. If your manufacturer's arbitration process has been approved by the Ohio Attorney General, then you must go to arbitration before you can file a lawsuit.

Informal arbitration decisions are not binding on you, the owner, but are binding on the manufacturer. If the decision is not in your favor, consult with a lemon law attorney, a lawyer experienced with lemon law cases. If you decide on a suit, you can claim the total cost of the lemon vehicle and any lemon law lawyer's fees you have incurred, as long as you file the suit within 5 years of taking delivery of your lemon.

Ohio Lemom Law Buyback Vehicles

Ohio allows the resale of some lemon vehicles as used vehicles (never as new vehicles). However, those vehicles must be clearly marked as previously defective. Each buyback car, pickup or motorcycle must have a "brand" added to the title. This is a notice that reads...

BUYBACK: This vehicle was returned to the manufacturer because it may not have conformed to its warranty.

Any vehicle sold without a warning notice, a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty, and the branded title, could result in a legal suit filed by the Ohio Attorney General's Office due to a violation of the Consumer Sales Practices Act.

Ohio Lemon Law Summary

The lemon law in Ohio covers your defective vehicle, but only if you report the problem within the first year or 18,000 miles from taking delivery. Don't delay. The sooner you start the process, the sooner you'll have your refund or replacement.

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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