Why is the Lemon Law called a Lemon Law?

One of the greatest assets an individual can make is when they are buying a house. Identically, purchasing a car is another. But what does it mean when your newly purchased vehicle is said to be a lemon? A Lemon is slang which means that a product is defective, imperfect, or unsatisfactory.

What is the Georgia Lemon Law? 

O.C.G.A. § 10-1-(782-785) governs Georgia Lemon law. More specifically, it applies to new leased or purchased vehicles. For example, suppose you cannot repair your car in a reasonable number of attempts. Hence, your car is a “lemon,” and the manufacturer must either replace or repurchase the vehicle from you.

Whom does the Georgia Lemon Law protect? 

Consumers are covered by lemon law if they:

(A) Purchase or lease a new motor vehicle for personal, family, or household use; and

(B) Purchase or lease ten or fewer new motor vehicles a year for business purposes other than limousine rental services.

Particularly, Lemon Law only covers any new self-propelled vehicles designed to transport people or property on public highways. Additionally, this definition applies to vehicles that people lease, purchase, or register in Georgia.

Moreover, Lemon Law does not cover trucks with over 12,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating, motorcycles, or golf carts. Suppose you purchase a motor home. In that case, this article applies to the self-propelled vehicle and chassis. However, Lemon Law does not cover areas designated, used, or maintained primarily as living quarters, office, or commercial space. 

Similarly, Lemon Law does not cover All-terrain vehicles (ATVs), Boats, vehicles that are not self-propelled, such as trailers and campers. 

Important things to remember when you are making a Lemon Law Claim:
  1. Keep copies of correspondence between you and the dealership; 
  2. Make a note of the date of substance any conversations or phone calls with the dealership; 
  3. Obtain an itemized repair order or statement from the authorized dealer each time you submit your car for diagnosis or repair. 

What defects does the lemon law cover? 

It covered nonconformity defects. These defects must be: 

  1. Any serious safety defect. This means a life-threatening defect or a malfunction that impedes the consumer’s ability to control or operate the motor vehicle for ordinary use or reasonable intended purposes or creates a risk of fire or explosion.
  2. Any other serious defect or condition that: 
    1. Substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a new motor vehicle to the consumer; or
    2. Renders the new motor vehicle nonconforming to a warranty.

On the other hand, Lemon Law does not include a defect, a serious safety defect, or a condition resulting from abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modification or alteration of the new motor vehicle.

Time limit for recovery? 

  1. Two years after the date of the original delivery of a new motor vehicle to a consumer; or
  2. The first 24,000 miles of operation after delivering a new motor vehicle to the original consumer, whichever occurs first.

To clarify, the lemon law rights period shall be extended by one day for each day that repair services are unavailable to the consumer as a direct result of any unforeseen circumstances. For example, strike, war, invasion, terrorist act, blackout, fire, flood, other disasters, or declared disaster state of emergency all count as unforeseen circumstances.

Repair Attempts 
Nonconformity Reasonable number of Repair Attempts 
Defect or condition substantially impairs the vehicle’s use, value or safety.  At least 3 (three) repair attempts for the SAME defect or condition within the lemon law period
Renders the new motor vehicle nonconforming to a warranty
Serious safety defect  1 (one) within the lemon law period 
One or more defects At least a cumulative total of 30 (thirty) calendar days out of service by reason of repair within the lemon law period.
  1. Notify the manufacturer by statutory overnight delivery or certified mail, return receipt requested, of the need to repair and correct the nonconformity. You must send the notice to the address provided by the manufacturer in the owner’s manual. The manufacturer then has twenty-eight days from its receipt of the notice to make a final attempt to repair and correct the nonconformity; 
  2. After seven days of the receipt of the notice the manufacturer should notify you (the owner) of where you need to take your car for the final attempt to correct the nonconformity;
  3. You (the owner) have an additional seven days to take your car to the designated place that everyone agrees to; 
  4. The manufacturer must get everything done by the end of the twenty-eight day mark from the initial receipt of the notice. 

What happens now? 

The manufacturer should now give you an option to either repurchase or replace your car.  

What does repurchase mean? 

  1. Suppose a consumer who is a lessee elects a repurchase. Accordingly, the manufacturer pays the lessee an amount equal to all payments made by the lessee under the lease agreement or contract, including, but not limited to, the lessee cost, plus all incidental costs, less a reasonable offset for the use of the nonconforming new motor vehicle. Also, the manufacturer pays the lessor an amount equal to 110 percent of the adjusted capitalized cost of the nonconforming new motor vehicle. Therefore, after the lessor receives payment from the manufacturer and payment from the consumer of all past due charges, the consumer shall have no further obligation to the lessor.
  2. Suppose a consumer who is not a lessee elects a repurchase. Accordingly, the manufacturer pays the consumer an amount equal to the purchase price of the nonconforming new motor vehicle plus all collateral charges and incidental costs, less a reasonable offset for use of the nonconforming new motor vehicle. As such, payment shall be made to the consumer and lien-holder of record, if any, as their interests may appear on the ownership records.

What does replacement mean? 

A replacement would be identical or reasonably equivalent to the consumer’s current vehicle. In effect, should the manufacturer elect a replacement, the consumer will be responsible for paying the manufacturer a deduction for use, based on a formula that includes the miles put on the vehicle until the request to the manufacturer is made.

Suppose a lessee elects to receive a replacement motor vehicle. In that case, all terms of the existing lease agreement or contract remains in the same, except that the vehicle identification information changes to the vehicle identification information of the replacement vehicle.

Dispute Resolution Steps 

  1. If the manufacture does not replace or repurchase your car after being requested by following the above steps, there are two possibilities:  
    1.   The manufacturer has established an informal dispute settlement mechanism; then you have to go through their mechanism before going through a state-mandated arbitration; 
    2. If the manufacturer doesn’t have that, then you’re entitled to request arbitration.