All About the Lemon Law Program
The "Lemon Law" is a nickname for Connecticut General Statute Chapter 743b, "Automotive Warranties." It establishes arbitration as an informal process for resolving disputes between consumers and automobile manufacturers. The law defines a lemon as a new motor vehicle (passenger car, combination or motorcycle) purchased or leased in Connecticut which does not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty and which, after “a reasonable number of attempts” cannot be repaired. The Lemon Law covers all new passenger, combination passenger/ commercial vehicles and motorcycles purchased or leased in Connecticut:
Which do not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty;
Which have substantial defects affecting the use, safety or value of the vehicle AND
The repairs must have been addressed during the eligibility period*;
- Have manufacturer's defects that occurred during the first two (2) years from the original owner’s delivery date or the first 24,000 miles on the odometer (whichever period ends first).
*The time period involved may be extended when repair service is unavailable due to war, strike or natural disaster.
The eligibility criteria for the Lemon Law arbitration refers to occurrences / days that must be met within the specified time frame. However, you do not have to apply within this time period.
Items NOT covered under the law include:
Defects not covered under the manufacturer’s express warranty
Defects caused by the consumer’s abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification of the vehicle
For a car to qualify, the same problem has to be subjected to a reasonable number of repair attempts and continue to exist after these attempts at repair. The law presumes that a “reasonable number” of repair attempts is four. However, your car may be eligible if you have less than four repair attempts for the same problem and can justify this is a reasonable number of repair attempts, and repairs have been performed within the eligibility period.
- OR -
When the vehicle has been out of service for repair at the dealership for a cumulative total of thirty days or more for any number of unrelated problems. These problems must occur within the eligibility period.
- OR -
In the case of a safety defect which is likely to cause death or serious injury if the vehicle is driven, the defect continues to exist after two or more attempts during the first year of operation or the term of the express warranty, whichever period end first.
How to Get Started
If you believe you are eligible and wish to pursue the Department of Consumer Protection's Arbitration Program, please print the arbitration form from this website, complete it and return it by U.S. mail to the Department as soon as possible with the required fee.
Of course, you should report the vehicle’s problems immediately to the dealer or the manufacturer. Check your owner’s manual/warranty booklet for the address and telephone number of the zone office designated to receive your complaint. The manual will also tell you if the manufacturer requires written notification of a claim requesting a refund or replacement vehicle. If such notification is required, you must write to the manufacturer. Please send us a copy of your letter to the manufacturer when you submit your Lemon Law application.
If you lease your vehicle, you must advise the leasing company that you are applying for Lemon Law arbitration and if they wish to be a party to the proceedings, they must notify the Department of their intent within ten (10) days of their receipt of your letter. The letter to the leasing company must be sent certified or registered mail, and a copy of the letter and postal receipt must be included with your Lemon Law application to us.
If it is determined that your case does not qualify for arbitration, the fee will be returned to you. Additionally, the manufacturer is required to pay a fee.
Once your Request for Arbitration and filing fee are received, the Department will review your application to make sure all necessary documents have been submitted. If information has been omitted, your Request for Arbitration and filing fee will be returned to you along with a list of the information or documents required to complete the submission. If all documents and information have been included, we will complete an initial review of your case to determine whether basic eligibility criteria have been met. You will be notified within five business days of the results.
If the our review indicates your case is not eligible for arbitration, your filing fee will be returned to you with an explanation as to why your case did not qualify. You may file a written appeal with the Department if you do not agree with our findings.
If our review indicates your case is eligible for arbitration, the manufacturer will be notified and asked to submit a manufacturer’s statement and filing fee. An arbitrator and an Automotive Technical Expert comprise an arbitration panel.
The arbitration panel will make the final determination as to the eligibility of your case. It is possible for a case to be deemed ineligible by the arbitration panel even though it was initially deemed eligible by the Department.
Types of hearings
When you file your Request for Arbitration, you must choose between an “oral” or “documentary” hearing. The oral arbitration process generally results in a more expeditious rendering of a decision.
Oral Hearing: If you choose oral arbitration, you and the manufacturer’s representative will be present at the scheduled hearing. Both parties will have the opportunity to present their case before the arbitration panel. The hearing is informal and not structured like a court of law. Typically, the consumer is heard first, followed by the manufacturer. Either party is able to ask the other questions. The arbitration panel may also have questions and may order the Automotive Technical Expert to inspect the vehicle. If possible, bring the vehicle to the hearing to avoid scheduling an inspection for a later date.
Use your “Request for Arbitration” form as a guide when preparing for an oral arbitration hearing. The form contains much of the information you will need at the hearing.
Bring records of everything pertaining to the dispute including all correspondence, work orders, receipts, and warranties.
Organize your records – Putting them in chronological order will help guide you in presenting the history of the problem.
Prepare an outline of the major points you wish to present to help you remember relevant information.
Be prepared to discuss the problem in its entirety. You should:
State the specific nature of the defect;
Restate any conversations with dealer’s or manufacturer’s representatives;
Describe any new developments which may have occurred since you submitted your “Request for Arbitration” form;
Describe any repair attempts or other actions taken;
State your opinion as to what action would constitute a fair resolution of the dispute;
State why you feel the vehicle is a “Lemon.” For example, how has the use, safety, and/or value been substantially impaired?
Prepare a list of questions to ask the manufacturer’s representative.
Prepare a final summary, which should briefly review the facts you have discussed, this should include a statement regarding your opinion of a fair resolution to the dispute.
Remember, the purpose of the hearing is to allow the arbitrators to gather facts, evaluate information presented by both sides and render a fair decision. Therefore, be prepared to offer SUBSTANTIAL PROOF of each point you make especially those you feel the manufacturer may dispute.
Documentary Hearing: If you choose documentary arbitration, you and the manufacturer’s representative will be required to submit to the Department sworn statements and other evidence you would like the panel to consider. You will receive copies of each other’s statements and have the opportunity to respond to them in writing. The arbitration panel will meet and review the statements and responses. The panel will base its decision solely on documentation and materials submitted by the parties prior to the hearing. Parties cannot present oral testimony, but may observe documentary hearings. If the panel orders a vehicle inspection, one will be scheduled at a later date and the panel will reconvene to render their decision.
Use of an Attorney
The ”Lemon Law” Program is designed to be accessible to the lay person. Most consumers coming through the program do not use an attorney; however, you are free to use one if you so choose. If your attorney will be presenting your case, you must notify the Department of Consumer Protection no later than two (2) days prior to the hearing. Also, if anyone other than the purchaser of the vehicle will be presenting the case, you must also notify the Department no later than one (1) day prior to the hearing. If someone is going to accompany you and present testimony, no prior notification is required. You also have the right to have a third party assist you in your presentation or act as a consultant or interpreter.
Content Last Modified on 9/27/2012 11:18:12 AM