If bought a new car in Ohio which then has problems that are covered under the warranty, you may be able to get help under Ohio's Lemon Law. Ohio's Lemon Law requires car manufacturers to repair certain problems and defects that occur in new cars, trucks, vans, SUVS, and other vehicles. If the car manufacturer is unable to fix the defect or problem, it must refund your money or replace the car.
Read on to learn what Ohio's Lemon Law requires and prohibits, who is covered by the laws, and what you can do if your rights are violated under the Lemon Law.
The Ohio Lemon Law
Ohio's Lemon Law requires manufacturers to repair or replace defective new vehicles. You may also be entitled to a refund or additional compensation, depending on the circumstances. To be covered, the problems must have occurred within:
- the first year from the date of purchase, or
- 18,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Vehicles Covered Under the Lemon Law
The vehicle must be new and also be one of the following:
- a passenger car
- a noncommercial motor vehicle, such as a farm truck, which is not used for business profit purposes, or
- parts of any motor home that are not part of the permanently installed facilities for cold storage, cooking and consuming of food, and for sleeping (meaning, not an RV or motor home).
The Lemon Law benefits and protects “consumers,” who include:
- new car buyers
- lessees of cars for 30 days or more
- anyone who takes title to the vehicle while the warranty is still active, and
- anyone who is entitled to enforce the warranty under the terms of the warranty.
Types of Defects Covered
To be covered, the qualified car must have a “nonconformity,” That means the car has a problem that:
- substantially impairs the car's use or value, or
- does not conform to the warranty.
Reasonable Repair Attempts
If your car has a nonconformity, then the manufacturer has a duty to repair the car. You must report the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agent, or authorized dealer, preferably in writing.
Ohio's Lemon Law then gives the the manufacturer a “reasonable number of attempts” to repair the car. The number of attempts is not longer reasonable as follows:
- three or more unsuccessful attempts to fix the same problem
- eight or more repair attempts (the problems can be different)
- one failed attempt to repair a dangerous condition, or
- repairs that have caused the car to be out of service for 30 days (cumulative) or more.
If Problems Persist
If the manufacturer refuses to fix the problem, or if problems persist after a reasonable number of repair attempts have been made, then the manufacturer must:
- replace the lemon with a new motor vehicle, acceptable to you, or
- refund the full purchase price to you.
“Full Purchase Price” can include all loan fees and charges, warranty and service contract charges, lease payments, and related out-of-pocket expenses, such as taxes, car rentals, license and registration fees, and towing.
You should notify the manufacturer of which option you choose to exercise: replacement or refund.
The manufacturer must have also provided you with a written statement at the time of your purchase or lease, advising you of your right to repair, replacement, or refund if the vehicle is defective.
Refunds: Special Issues
If you had an outstanding car loan or lease, then your lender or lessor must be paid what they are owed before you can receive the balance of the refund. That is because the underlying loan or lease agreement is not automatically canceled with a refund. The amount of the refund should, however, be more than enough to cover your debt obligations under the finance or lease agreement.
Replacement: Special Issues
If you opt for a replacement and you have a car loan or lease, then you may need the consent of the lender or lessor to finance or lease the replacement vehicle. That is because the underlying loan or lease agreement is not automatically canceled with a car replacement. You will need to work out a resolution of the debt as part of this transaction.
If the Manufacturer Violates the Lemon Law – Lawsuits and Remedies
You may have a private cause of action if the manufacturer fails to perform its obligations under the Ohio Lemon Law, such as refusing to replace the car or refund your money. This means that you can file a lawsuit in Ohio against the car manufacturer for damages. You have up to five years from the date of the original delivery of the vehicle to bring a lawsuit. If you win, the court may award to you:
- what the car manufacturer should have done for you (refund of purchase price or value of a new vehicle replacement), and
- attorney’s fees and court costs.
You may have to participate in an informal dispute resolution process (sometimes called "arbitration"), if the manufacturer has one in place that has been approved by the Ohio Attorney General, before you can file a private lawsuit.
Getting More Information
For more details on what Ohio's DAA does and does not cover, you can read Ohio's Debt Adjusters Act, General Statutes §1345.71 to 1345.78 of the Revised Code . To learn how to find state statutes, visit Nolo’s Legal Research Center.
To learn about other Ohio laws that protect consumers and debtors, visit our Ohio Debt Management Center.