In Louisiana, consumers are protected from defective cars under the state's Lemon Law. A lemon is the term used to describe an automobile that doesn't conform after a reasonable number of repair attempts. Although the state's Lemon Law doesn't exclude used cars, there are time restrictions. The Lemon Law only covers defects that occur within the first year of ownership or before the manufacturer's express warranty runs out, whichever is sooner. An express warranty comes directly from the manufacturer and is usually listed in your contract. Cars sold-as is without a warranty, an implied warranty or an extended-dealer warranty aren't covered under the state's Lemon Law.
The Lemon Law covers any registered motor-driven car, van or truck used for transporting passengers or goods. The vehicle's usage can be personal or commercial. Personal watercrafts and all-terrain vehicles are also covered. Newly leased vehicles, recreational vehicles, motorcycles and motor homes aren't covered. The vehicle must be purchased in Louisiana to qualify under the state's law.
The Lemon Law covers a defect or a combination of multiple defects that affect the vehicle's use or market value. Defects caused by consumer abuse or neglect are excluded. Any defects resulting from the unauthorized modification of a vehicle are also excluded.
The law requires a reasonable number of unsuccessful repair attempts. A lemon is a vehicle that fails to conform to the warranty standards after four repair attempts or is out of service for 45 days. The repairs must be made by the manufacturer or an authorized dealer and still persist.
If you rent a car while your vehicle is being repaired, the manufacturer must reimburse you up to $20 per day. If the car is deemed a lemon, the manufacturer has to replace the vehicle or refund you the purchase price. You have three years from the date you purchased the vehicle or one year from the warranty's expiration date to file a claim with the manufacturer.
Mediation and Arbitration
The Lemon Law requires you and the manufacturer to go through mediation to attempt to reach an acceptable solution after submitting your claim. If you are unsatisfied with the manufacturer's offer, you'll proceed to arbitration. In arbitration, a neutral third party will make a decision without lawyers. Keep all maintenance records for the vehicle as evidence to support your claim. If the arbitrator decides your car is a lemon, the manufacturer must replace it or offer you a refund. If the decision is made in favor of the manufacturer, you might want to consult an attorney and appeal the decision.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.