Lemon Law - Virginia
Lemon Law - "Lemon
law" is that body of state law which defines an automobile
owners rights when the manufacturer is not able to repair the
automobile within the limits specified. In
such cases, the automobile is referred to as a "lemon",
and is subject to the conditions of the state lemon law.
Your Lemon Law
These pages are created to inform and educate the public about lemon
law and under the lemon law in your state. They are not and
should not be considered legal opinions or advice as to whether you
have rights under lemon law or whether you should pursue "a
lemon law case". If after reading this information,
you believe you qualify, you should seek the advice and counsel of
an attorney specializing in lemon law in your state. Remember
that each state's lemon laws vary.
Amendment July, 1999: VA law
was amended to shorten statute of limitations to 18 months.
59.1-207.9 Short title.
This chapter may be cited as the
Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act.
The General Assembly recognizes
that a motor vehicle is a major consumer purchase, and there is no
doubt that a defective motor vehicle creates a hardship for the
consumer. It is the intent of the General Assembly that a good faith
motor vehicle warranty complaint by a consumer should be resolved by
the manufacturer, or its agent, within a specified period of time.
It is further the intent of the General Assembly to provide the
statutory procedures whereby a consumer may receive a replacement
motor vehicle, or a full refund, for a motor vehicle which cannot be
brought into conformity with the express warranty issued by the
manufacturer. However, nothing in this chapter shall in any way
limit the rights or remedies which are otherwise available to a
consumer under any other law.
As used in this chapter, the
following terms shall have the following meanings:
means any sales-related or lease-related charges including but not
limited to sales tax, license fees, registration fees, title fees,
finance charges and interest, transportation charges, dealer
preparation charges or any other charges for service contracts,
undercoating, rust proofing or installed options, not recoverable
from a third party. If a refund involves a lease, "collateral
charges" means, in addition to any of the above, capitalized
cost reductions, credits and allowances for any trade-in vehicles,
fees to another to obtain the lease, and insurance or other costs
expended by the lessor for the benefit of the lessee.
vehicle" means a motor vehicle that is identical or reasonably
equivalent to the motor vehicle to be replaced, as the motor vehicle
to be replaced existed at the time of purchase or lease with an
offset from this value for a reasonable allowance for its use.
"Consumer" means the
purchaser, other than for purposes of resale, or the lessee, of a
motor vehicle used in substantial part for personal, family, or
household purposes, and any person to whom such motor vehicle is
transferred for the same purposes during the duration of any
warranty applicable to such motor vehicle, and any other person
entitled by the terms of such warranty to enforce the obligations of
shall have the same meaning as provided in 8.2-715.
"Lemon law rights period"
means the period ending eighteen months after the date of the
original delivery to the consumer of a new motor vehicle. This shall
be the period during which the consumer can report any nonconformity
to the manufacturer and pursue any rights provided for under this
"Lien" means a security
interest in a motor vehicle.
"lien holder" means a
person, partnership, association, corporation or entity with a
security interest in a motor vehicle pursuant to a lien.
"Manufacturer" means a
person, partnership, association, corporation or entity engaged in
the business of manufacturing or assembling motor vehicles, or of
distributing motor vehicles to motor vehicle dealers.
warranty" means the written warranty, so labeled, of the
manufacturer of a new automobile, including any terms or conditions
precedent to the enforcement of obligations under that warranty.
"Motor vehicle" means
only passenger cars, pickup or panel trucks, motorcycles,
self-propelled motorized chassis of motor homes and mopeds as those
terms are defined in 46.2-100 and demonstrators or leased vehicles
with which a warranty was issued.
"Motor vehicle dealer"
shall have the same meaning as provided in 46.2-1500.
"Nonconformity" means a
failure to conform with a warranty, a defect or a condition,
including those that do not affect the drivability of the vehicle,
which significantly impairs the use, market value, or safety of a
"notification" means that the manufacturer shall be deemed
to have been notified under this chapter if a written complaint of
the defect or defects has been mailed to it or it has responded to
the consumer in writing regarding a complaint, or a factory
representative has either inspected the vehicle or met with the
consumer or an authorized dealer regarding the nonconformity.
"Reasonable allowance for
use" shall not exceed one-half of the amount allowed per mile
by the Internal Revenue Service, as provided by regulation, revenue
procedure, or revenue ruling promulgated pursuant to 162 of the
Internal Revenue Code, for use of a personal vehicle for business
purposes, plus an amount to account for any loss to the fair market
value of the vehicle resulting from damage beyond normal wear and
tear, unless the damage resulted from nonconformity to any warranty.
"Serious safety defect"
means a life-threatening malfunction or nonconformity that impedes
the consumer's ability to control or operate the new motor vehicle
for ordinary use or reasonable intended purposes or creates a risk
of fire or explosion.
means to render the new motor vehicle unfit, unreliable or unsafe
for ordinary use or reasonable intended purposes.
"Warranty" means any
implied warranty or any written warranty of the manufacturer, or any
affirmations of fact or promise made by the manufacturer in
connection with the sale or lease of a motor vehicle that become
part of the basis of the bargain. The term "warranty"
pertains to the obligations of the manufacturer in relation to
materials, workmanship, and fitness of a motor vehicle for ordinary
use or reasonable intended purposes throughout the duration of the
lemon law rights period as defined under this section.
59.1-207.12 Conformity to all
If a new motor vehicle does not
conform to all warranties, and the consumer reports the
nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agents, or its authorized
dealer during the manufacturer's warranty period, the manufacturer,
its agent or its authorized dealer shall make such repairs as are
necessary to conform the vehicle to such warranties, notwithstanding
the fact that such repairs are made after the expiration of such
manufacturer's warranty period.
59.1-207.13 Nonconformity of motor vehicles.
A. If the manufacturer, its
agents or authorized dealers do not conform the motor vehicle to any
applicable warranty by repairing or correcting any defect or
condition, including those that do not affect the drivability of the
vehicle, which significantly impairs the use, market value, or
safety of the motor vehicle to the consumer after a reasonable
number of attempts during the lemon law rights period, the
1. Replace the motor vehicle
with a comparable motor vehicle acceptable to the consumer, or
2. Accept return of the
motor vehicle and refund to the consumer, lessor, and any lien
holder as their interest may appear the full contract price,
including all collateral charges, incidental damages, less a
reasonable allowance for the consumer's use of the vehicle up to the
date of the first notice of nonconformity that is given to the
manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealer. Refunds or
replacements shall be made to the consumer, lessor or lien holder,
if any, as their interests may appear. The consumer shall have the
unconditional right to choose a refund rather than a replacement
vehicle and to drive the motor vehicle until he receives either the
replacement vehicle or the refund. The subtraction of a reasonable
allowance for use shall apply to either a replacement or refund of
the motor vehicle. Mileage, expenses, and reasonable loss of use
necessitated by attempts to conform such motor vehicle to the
express warranty may be recovered by the consumer.
A1. In the case of a
replacement of or refund for a leased vehicle, in addition to any
other damages provided in this chapter, the motor vehicle shall be
returned to the manufacturer and the consumer's written lease shall
be terminated by the lessor without penalty to the consumer. The
lessor shall transfer title to the manufacturer as necessary to
effectuate the consumer's rights pursuant to this chapter, whether
the consumer chooses vehicle replacement or a refund.
B. It shall be presumed that
a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform a
motor vehicle to any warranty and that the motor vehicle is
significantly impaired if during the period of eighteen months
following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to the
1. The same nonconformity
has been subject to repair three or more times by the manufacturer,
its agents or its authorized dealers and the same nonconformity
continues to exist;
2. The nonconformity is a
serious safety defect and has been subject to repair one or more
times by the manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer and
the same nonconformity continues to exist; or
3. The motor vehicle is out
of service due to repair for a cumulative total of thirty calendar
days, unless such repairs could not be performed because of
conditions beyond the control of the manufacturer, its agents or
authorized dealers, including war, invasion, strike, fire, flood or
other natural disasters.
C. The lemon law rights
period shall be extended if the manufacturer has been notified but
the nonconformity has not been effectively repaired by the
manufacturer, or its agent, by the expiration of the lemon law
D. The manufacturer shall
clearly and conspicuously disclose to the consumer, in the warranty
or owner's manual, that written notification of the nonconformity to
the manufacturer is required before the consumer may be eligible for
a refund or replacement of the vehicle under this chapter. The
manufacturer shall include with the warranty or owner's manual the
name and address to which the consumer shall send such written
E. It shall be the
responsibility of the consumer, or his representative, prior to
availing himself of the provisions of this section, to notify the
manufacturer of the need for the correction or repair of the
nonconformity, unless the manufacturer has been notified as defined
in 59.1-207.11. If the manufacturer or factory representative has
not been notified of the conditions set forth in subsection B of
this section and any of the conditions set forth in subsection B of
this section already exists, the manufacturer shall be given an
additional opportunity, not to exceed fifteen days, to correct or
repair the nonconformity. If notification shall be mailed to an
authorized dealer, the authorized dealer shall upon receipt forward
such notification to the manufacturer.
F. Nothing in this chapter
shall be construed to limit or impair the rights and remedies of a
consumer under any other law.
G. It is an affirmative
defense to any claim under this chapter that:
1. An alleged nonconformity
does not significantly impair the use, market value, or safety of
the motor vehicle; or
2. A nonconformity is the
result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification or alteration
of a motor vehicle by a consumer.
59.1-207.14 Action to enforce
provisions of chapter.
Any consumer who suffers loss by
reason of a violation of any provision of this chapter may bring a
civil action to enforce such provision. Any consumer who is
successful in such an action or any defendant in any frivolous
action brought by a consumer shall recover reasonable attorney's
fees, expert witness fees and court costs incurred by bringing such
59.1-207.15 Informal dispute
A. If a manufacturer
provides an informal dispute settlement procedure, it shall be the
consumer's choice whether or not to use it prior to availing himself
of his rights under this chapter.
B. If a dispute settlement
procedure is resorted to by the consumer and the decision is for a
refund or a comparable motor vehicle, the manufacturer shall have
forty days from its receipt of the consumer's acceptance of the
decision or from the date of a court order to comply with the terms
of the decision.
C. In any action brought
because of the manufacturer's failure to comply with the decision,
within the scope of the procedure's authority, rendered as a result
of a dispute resolution proceeding or a court order, the court may
triple the value of the award stipulated in the decision as provided
for in this chapter, plus award other equitable relief the court
deems appropriate, including additional attorney's fees.
59.1-207.16 Action to be brought
within certain time.
Any action brought under this
chapter shall be commenced within the lemon law rights period
following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to the
consumer; however, any consumer whose good faith attempts to settle
the dispute have not resulted in the satisfactory correction or
repair of the nonconformity, replacement of the motor vehicle or
refund to the consumer of the amount described in subdivision 2 of
subsection A of 59.1-207.13, shall have twelve months from the date
of the final action taken by the manufacturer in its dispute
settlement procedure or within the lemon law rights period,
whichever is longer, to file an action in the proper court, provided
the consumer has rejected the manufacturer's final action.
59.1-207.16:1 Disclosure of
returned vehicles; penalty.
A. If a motor vehicle that
is returned to the manufacturer or distributor either under this
chapter or by judgment, decree, or arbitration award in this or any
other state and is then transferred by a manufacturer or distributor
to a dealer, licensed under Chapter 15 (46.2-1500 et seq.) of Title
46.2, in Virginia, the manufacturer or distributor shall disclose
this information to the Virginia dealer.
B. If the returned vehicle
is then made available for resale or for another lease, the
manufacturer shall, prior to sale or lease, disclose in writing in a
clear and conspicuous manner, on a separate piece of paper in
ten-point capital type, to the Virginia dealer that this motor
vehicle was returned to the manufacturer, distributor or factory
branch, the nature of the defect which resulted in the return, and
the condition of the motor vehicle at the time of transfer to the
Virginia dealer. It shall be the responsibility of the dealer that
receives this disclosure to give notice of its contents to any
prospective purchaser or lessee prior to sale or lease, and to
transfer the disclosure, or a copy thereof, to the next purchaser or
lessee. A dealer's responsibility under this section shall cease
upon the sale or lease of the affected motor vehicle to the first
purchaser or lessee not for resale or lease.
C. Any manufacturer or
distributor who violates this section of the Motor Vehicle Warranty
Enforcement Act shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.