The Virginia Lemon Law

The Virginia lemon law protects you and other Virginians who own or lease defective vehicles.

Does the VA Lemon Law Protect My Vehicle?

The lemon law in Virginia covers new vehicles for 18 months from the original date of delivery. It covers purchased or leased cars, pickup trucks, vans, SUVs, motorcycles, mopeds, and the drive train and chassis of motor homes (recreational vehicles, or RVs) but not the living quarters of an RV.

If the defect has been repaired at least three times during the coverage period, or at least once for a defect likely to cause death or serious injury, or if it has been out of service for at least 30 calendar days for any number of defects, it's considered a lemon.

The defect must substantially impair your use of or the safety of the vehicle, or substantially reduce its market value. The defect also cannot be caused by accident, abuse, negligence or unauthorized modifications to the vehicle.

I'm Driving a Virginia Lemon. What Do I Do Now?

If your vehicle meets the above criteria, you can claim compensation. You need to notify the manufacturer in writing about the lemon, outlining the problem(s) and the steps already taken to fix it.

Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. Include copies of your notes, all service orders and work invoices, and other supporting documentation you may have. Remember to photocopy your letter and keep that copy for your records.

Arbitration or Law Suit?

The Virginia lemon law allows you to choose whether you want to use the manufacturer's or a third party's informal dispute resolution process, or file a law suit directly. The informal system's arbitration decision is usually binding on the manufacturer, but not on you. So if you lose in arbitration, you can file a law suit.

You must use the informal process or file a law suit within the 18 month coverage period, unless you have been unable to obtain compensation. If that happens, you have 12 months from the manufacturer's last offer within the informal process during which to file your suit.

If you decide to go to court, I recommend that you consult a lemon law attorney, a lawyer with experience using the Virginia lemon law.

Replacement or Refund?

The Virginia lemon law gives you the right to choose between a replacement or refund. In either case, the manufacturer is allowed to deduct a reasonable use fee based on the miles you drove the vehicle.

If you choose a replacement, it must be a vehicle of comparable value, usually the same make and model, if available.

If you select the refund, you'll receive the full contract purchase price, plus trade-in allowance and the cost of dealer prep, transportation, undercoating and other options, plus sales tax, license and registration fees, and financing and interest charges paid to date.

If you leased the vehicle, you'll receive your down payment, any trade-in allowance, plus all lease payments made to date.

You may also be entitled to loss of use damages, as well as expenses and mileage due to trying to fix the defect.

Virginia Lemon Law Summary

The lemon law in Virginia gives the owners and lessees of new but defective vehicles the right to claim compensation. The coverage lasts for 18 months, during which time you can demand a replacement vehicle or a refund of the purchase price.

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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