The law does not cover used motor vehicles (including program vehicles), repossessed vehicles, non-travel trailers, boats, or farm equipment. Neither does it cover vehicles with problems caused by abuse, neglect or unauthorized changes, parts or components not authorized or installed by the manufacturer, distributor or converter, or problems that do not substantially affect the use or market value of the car. So if you hear a rattle here or there or have a stereo problem, don’t waste time and money on a lawyer.
But assuming you do have a problem, how long do you give your dealer to get handle it? Well, you either take the four-time test or the 30-day test or the serious safety hazard test.
You pass this test if you have taken the following steps and your car is still a problem vehicle:
1. You have taken the car to a dealership for repairs twice for the same problem or defect within the first 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first
2. Twice more during the 12 months or 12,000 miles following the first repair attempts
Serious safety-hazard test
You pass this test if you take the following steps and the problem persists:
1. You have taken the vehicle for repair of a serious safety-hazard once during the first 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first
2. Once more during the 12 months or 12,000 miles following the first repair attempt
You pass this test if your car has been out of service for repair because of problems covered by the original factory warranty:
1. For a total of 30 days or more – not necessarily all at one time – during the first 24 months or 24,000 miles
2. There were two repair attempts during the first 12 months or 12,000 miles immediately after delivery and the problem refused to go away
Once you pass any one of these tests, you must file your complaint within six months following either:
1. Expiration of the express warranty term
2. 24 months
3. 24,000 miles following the date of delivery of the vehicle (except TRVs)
In other words, the filing period is determined by which of the above events occurs first. To be safe, file your complaint as soon as you realize the dealer is having problems repairing the vehicle.
Often, whether the car is really broken is a legitimate question that takes quite a while to settle. But at all events, the law is on your side, so don’t be afraid to pursue your case.