Katie Kawiecki is Here to Help With Your Lemon

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Does my vehicle qualify as a vehicle under Indiana Lemon Law?

Answer:  If you are wondering whether or not your vehicle qualifies under the Indiana Lemon Law, you must first look to the statutes.  Your vehicle must have:

  1. A declared gross vehicle weight of less than ten thousand (10,000) pounds;

  2. Sold to a buyer in Indiana and registered in Indiana or a buyer in Indiana who is a nonresident (as defined in IC 9-13-2-113);

  3. Intended primarily for use and operation on public highways; and

  4. Required to be registered or licensed before use or operation.

The Indiana Lemon Laws specifically prohibit vehicles that are considered conversion vans, motor homes (RVs), farm tractors, and other machines used in the actual production, harvesting, and care of farm products, road building equipment, truck tractors, road tractors, motorcycles, motor driven cycles, snowmobiles, or vehicles designed primarily for off-road use.

What If my vehicle isn’t specifically covered by Indiana Law?  Does that mean I don’t have a claim?  

Answer:  Not necessarily.  The Indiana Lemon Law Statutes are very specific on which vehicles qualify as a personal vehicle.  In general, the vehicle must be for personal use.  However, those vehicles that aren’t considered a personal vehicle will usually qualify as a vehicle under the Federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. 


How many times do I have to keep taking my vehicle in for a repair before I can pursue a lemon law claim?

Answer: Indiana requires that you allow the manufacturer a minimum of 4 repair opportunities to fix the same problem. 


What if the authorized dealership has only had an opportunity to repair my vehicle 1 or  2 times but they have had it more 30 days?  Can I pursue a claim now or do I have to wait until they’ve had 4 times?

Answer: Yes, you don’t necessarily have to wait the 4 repair attempts before you pursue a claim.   In Indiana, you have an option of either 4 repair attempts or the vehicle has been in the repair shop more than 30 days.


What if I’m having problems with my new vehicle and I’ve given the manufacturer 4 times to fix it, can I still pursue a claim?

Answer:  Probably.  In general, once you meet the requirements to pursue a claim, it’s important to contact an attorney who specializes in lemon law to discuss with you to determine if you have a claim as well as possible outcomes should you pursue a claim and what it means specifically for you.


I’m pretty sure I bought a vehicle that’s a lemon.  I want the manufacturer to buy back my vehicle.  What can I expect to see if my demand is accepted by the manufacturer?

Answer: It depends.  Every situation is unique and must be determined by evaluating whether some of the following factors exist or apply:

  1. Whether or not registration fees were paid to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles;

  2. Whether or not any negative equity was rolled into the vehicle from a vehicle that may have been traded-in during the original purchase or lease of the new vehicle;

  3. Any Mileage offset according to a statutory calculation;

  4. Whether there were any receipts out of pocket for vehicle rentals not covered by the dealership;

  5. Any other factors laid out statutorily in Indiana.


I don’t have any paperwork from the dealership regarding the repairs they did on my vehicle under warranty.  Can I still pursue a lemon law claim?

Answer: Yes, most likely.  In general, dealerships should provide you with a customer copy of the repair order that accompanies the repair.  However, in some circumstances, you may not have received one.  Not receiving one does not necessarily preclude a claim from being pursued so long as documentation of the complaint has been done when you dropped the vehicle off initially to be repaired.  If you are not in possession of a specific repair order, it is possible the manufacturer will be able to access it from the dealership database. 


I have been to the dealership multiple times now complaining about my check engine light on.  Despite the dealership’s efforts, it doesn’t seem to be fixable.  I used to come in and employees at the dealership were friendly to me.  Now, after the 4th time, the employees won’t talk to me anymore or if they do talk to me, they are short or seem irritated or annoyed with me.  In fact, one employee has told me to stop bringing my vehicle in.  What do I do?

Answer:  Unfortunately, it is all too common that once a customer has had to repeatedly bring in their vehicle in to be repaired under the bumper to bumper warranty at authorized dealership, sometimes the mood or the attitude of the dealership changes towards the customer.   There is no clear-cut explanation as to why it happens.  However, if this happens to you, you might want to seek a different authorized dealership to complete repairs under the warranty.  It is generally advised that you should feel comfortable with the authorized dealership your vehicle is being repaired at and if you begin to feel uncomfortable, it’s probably wise to switch to another location. 


I like my vehicle but it’s a lemon.  Can I ask the manufacturer for a replacement? 

Answer: Under the Indiana Lemon Law, if your vehicle qualifies, one of the remedies that a consumer can request is a replacement of their vehicle with another of similar year, make, and model.  In general, if the same vehicle features are not available, the manufacturer will usually replace with an upgraded newer version.


I drive a vehicle to and from work that’s acting like a lemon.  Although I drive it, I’m not specifically on the title.  Who can pursue a lemon law claim?

Answer: In Indiana, a claimant for a lemon Generally, the only person or persons that can pursue a claim are those that have ownership of the vehicle and/or the individual or individuals on the title to the vehicle.


I bought a new vehicle and it’s having problems.  I want to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer but the manufacturer has told me I have to go to binding arbitration instead of filing a lawsuit.  Why can’t I file a lawsuit?

Answer:  Pursuing a lemon law claim is very fact specific and consumer specific.  Most often times, the number one reason why someone is required to go to arbitration and unable to file a lawsuit in a court against a manufacturer for a lemon law claim is the consumer, when originally purchasing or leasing the vehicle, received a discount to the overall price of the vehicle in exchange for the exclusion of filing a lawsuit in a court.  Most often, a consumer misses the clause in the contract because they simply did not read it thoroughly and/or the dealership did not fully discuss the repercussions of accepting the discount. 


When I purchased my new vehicle with 175,000 miles, the dealership told me it came “as is”.  As soon as I drove it off the dealership lot, the engine blew up and when I went back to the dealership that I bought it from originally told me they would fix it.  Once they looked at the vehicle more thoroughly, the dealership now says I will need to pay for the repairs if I want it fixed.  The dealership has had my vehicle now for 47 days.  Do I have a claim under the Indiana Lemon Law Statutes?

Answer: Unfortunately, no.  One of the key components of the Indiana Lemon Law Statutes involves mileage in relation to reporting your first complaint, the 1st 18 months or 18,000 miles.  While that vehicle you purchased is “new” to you, it is not considered new for purposes of the Indiana Lemon Law Statutes.  “As is” is generally implied that there is no warranty with the vehicle and are specifically precluded from being vehicles are sold without a warranty.  Indiana Lemon Law Statutes specifically requires a warranty, generally what is known as a “bumper to bumper” warranty and the vehicle be repaired under that warranty.


What if I meet some of the criteria to qualify under the Indiana Lemon Law Statute but not all of them?

Answer:  In order to qualify under the Indiana Lemon Law Statutes, you must meet ALL of the criteria.  Think of the statute as a checklist and if you are unable to check off each part on the list, your claim is either not yet ready to pursue (not ripe) or you simply do not qualify at all in Indiana.


If I want to pursue a lemon law claim, how much will it cost me upfront to hire an attorney?

Answer:  It depends.  In general, lemon law claims are taken on a contingency basis which means there are no attorney fees upfront required in order to initially pursue your claim.  If the claim reaches a settlement agreement, you will owe an attorney based on a fee arrangement previously agreed upon between you and your attorney.  If there is no settlement agreement reached or the claim turns out to not be viable, in general, you owe nothing unless you’ve previously negotiated something differently with your attorney in your attorney-client agreement.