The state of Oklahoma has just passed new, stronger legislation in support
of their state lemon laws. Among other things, the bill gives consumers
the choice of a refund or replacement of a defective vehicle. It also
places a standard in state law for a manufacturer’s charge for mileage
on a defective vehicle and prohibits a manufacturer from charging for
mileage if the lemon is simply replaced.
Similar to the Oklahama legislation,
California lemon law prohibits a manufacturer from forcing a consumer to accept a replacement—something
a manufacturer or dealer won’t always tell you.
“The general consensus amongst lemon practitioners in California
is that the manufacturer cannot make you take a replacement,” said
Norman Taylor, leading California lemon law attorney.
Taylor understands the law well. He has been a California lemon law specialist
since 1987, and he and his firm, Norman Taylor and Associates, have handled
over 8,000 cases for consumers with a 98 percent success rate.
A consumer may prefer one remedy over the other for various reasons. If
the consumer really likes the model, for example, he or she may choose
a replacement. If the buyer no longer trusts the manufacturer, he or she
may then opt for a refund. The point, though, is that if the consumer
wants a cash refund, the manufacturer cannot force a replacement on to
Anyone pursuing a refund should make themselves aware of what exactly the
refund encompasses. It usually includes the down payment and all monthly
payments made including finance charges. It may also include official
fees and charges such as sales tax and registration fees, and other expenses
reasonably incurred in connection with the defective vehicle such as rental
cars, towing, repairs and storage.
Almost all states permit the manufacturer to deduct some allowance for
the owner’s use of the vehicle, and some states allow a deduction
only for miles driven up to the first repair attempt. The latter recognizes
that the failure to repair the vehicle is the manufacturer’s responsibility,
and that being forced to continue using a lemon is not a valuable benefit.
A replacement must be comparable to the vehicle being replaced. Ideally,
it should be substantially identical in make, model and options. The manufacturer
must typically pay any sales tax and registration fees on the new vehicle.
Whichever remedy you choose, you should obtain professional help. “I
recommend that you consult a lemon law attorney to help you decide what
is best for you,” said Taylor.