Dear Dale: My father-in-law purchased a new car that has continued to have the same engine problem. He's taken it in for repairs, but the problem keeps happening again and again. He's fed up and wants to know what his rights are.
ANSWER: It sounds like he may have purchased a lemon and could be entitled to a new car. In certain situations, Ohio's Lemon Law protects consumers who have purchased new cars that are plagued by problems.
The law applies only to new cars that are less than 1 year old or have fewer than 18,000 miles, whichever happens earlier. First of all, the dealer or manufacturer must be given a reasonable opportunity to make any repairs necessary so that the vehicle conforms to the warranty. You might be able to get a new car or a full refund if any of the following factors apply:
If repairs have been attempted at least three times on essentially the same problem, but the problem persists.
If one attempt has been made to repair a problem that could cause death or serious bodily injury, and the problem still exists.
If the car has required eight or more repairs, not necessarily for the same problem.
If the vehicle has been out of service for repairs for a cumulative total of 30 days.
If the consumer decides to replace the lemon, Ohio law requires that the new vehicle must be acceptable to him. Alternatively, a full refund of the purchase price can be demanded. The purchaser of the lemon also can recoup costs such as fees charged for cancelling a loan or lease, or towing costs and vehicle rental fees.
Despite the law, the consumer may run into a dealer or manufacturer who won't make things right or who believes that you don't have a right to seek the relief contemplated by the law. If that's the case, the lemon's owner can file a lawsuit seeking to recover the damages incurred. The law also allows for the recovery of attorney's fees and court costs if the consumer wins the case. That said, if certain factors are met, the consumer could be forced into arbitration, which essentially is an out-of-court hearing in front of a neutral party.
So, your father-in-law could be entitled to a new car or a full refund if the factors listed apply. It's important that he documents all of the problems and repair attempts so he can exercise his rights under the law. He should start a file and hold on to all of the paperwork associated with the vehicle.
For more information, check out the informative site the Ohio Attorney General's Office has put together on the Lemon Law at
Dale Emch practices law at the Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC, in Toledo. In his column, he will discuss general legal principles and answer readers' questions. Neither Mr. Emch nor The Blade present or intend his column to be taken as legal advice. Readers seeking legal advice should consult with an attorney. Readers should send their questions to Mr. Emch at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dale Emch, 405 Madison Ave., Suite 1200, Toledo, OH 43604.