If you’ve purchased or leased a defective automobile, you do have legal recourse under Florida’s Lemon Law. The law provides arbitration for car owners with complaints, and can result in a full refund or replacement vehicle.
You’re on your own with a used car, however; the law applies only to the purchase or long-term lease of a new car.
To be eligible for arbitration:
- The defect or condition must “substantially impair the use, value, or safety” of the vehicle.
- The car must have been taken in to the authorized service agent for service 3 times for the same substantial defect; or the vehicle must be out of service for at least 15 days (cumulative, not consecutive) due to the substantial defect.
If the preceding conditions apply, mail a Motor Vehicle Defect Notification (MVDN) form to the manufacturer (not dealer) of your vehicle. The form must be sent by registered or express mail, with return receipt requested. This gives the manufacturer one final opportunity to attempt a repair or at least inspect the vehicle.
If, after 10 days, this final repair attempt or inspection has still not taken place, you are now free to seek arbitration under Florida’s Lemon Law.
Lemon Law in Florida
Many manufacturers offer state-certified arbitration for defective vehicles; if your vehicle’s manufacturer offers such a program, be sure to seek resolution there first. If you do not receive a satisfactory resolution, or if there is no such program with your vehicle’s manufacturer, proceed with the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board. Call the state’s Lemon Law Hotline at (800) 321-5366 or (850) 414-3500 if you’re in Tallahassee or out of state, or download a Request for Arbitration package.
If your request is granted, a hearing will be scheduled. Be sure to compile written records and all documentation in relation to repairs, maintenance, and days out of service. You will be expected to provide proof of your claims.