Florida Lemon Law Text

Florida Statutes Annotated, Chapter 681

681.10 Short title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act.”

681.101 Legislative intent.

The Legislature recognizes that a motor vehicle is a major consumer purchase and that a defective motor vehicle undoubtedly creates a hardship for the consumer. The Legislature further recognizes that a duly franchised motor vehicle dealer is an authorized service agent of the manufacturer. It is the intent of the Legislature that a good faith motor vehicle warranty complaint by a consumer be resolved by the manufacturer within a specified period of time; however, it is not the intent of the Legislature that a consumer establish the presumption of a reasonable number of attempts as to each manufacturer that provides a warranty directly to the consumer. It is further the intent of the Legislature to provide the statutory procedures whereby a consumer may receive a replacement motor vehicle, or a full refund, for a motor vehicle which cannot be brought into conformity with the warranty provided for in this chapter. However, nothing in this chapter shall in any way limit or expand the rights or remedies which are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.

681.102 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the term:

(1) “Authorized service agent” means any person, including a franchised motor vehicle dealer, who is authorized by the manufacturer to service motor vehicles. In the case of a recreational vehicle when there are two or more manufacturers, an authorized service agent for any individual manufacturer is any person, including a franchised motor vehicle dealer, who is authorized to service the items warranted by that manufacturer. The term does not include a rental car company authorized to repair rental vehicles.

(2) “Board” means the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board.

(3) “Collateral charges” means those additional charges to a consumer wholly incurred as a result of the acquisition of the motor vehicle. For the purposes of this chapter, collateral charges include, but are not limited to, manufacturer-installed or agent-installed items or service charges, earned finance charges, sales taxes, and title charges.

(4) “Consumer” means the purchaser, other than for purposes of resale, or the lessee, of a motor vehicle primarily used for personal, family, or household purposes; any person to whom such motor vehicle is transferred for the same purposes during the duration of the Lemon Law rights period; and any other person entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty.

(5) “Days” means calendar days.

(6) “Department” means the Department of Legal Affairs.

(7) “Division” means the Division of Consumer Services of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

(8) “Incidental charges” means those reasonable costs to the consumer which are directly caused by the nonconformity of the motor vehicle.

(9) “Lease price” means the aggregate of the capitalized cost, as defined in s. 521.003(2), and each of the following items to the extent not included in the capitalized cost:

(a) Lessor’s earned rent charges through the date of repurchase.

(b) Collateral charges, if applicable.

(c) Any fee paid to another to obtain the lease.

(d) Any insurance or other costs expended by the lessor for the benefit of the lessee.

(e) An amount equal to state and local sales taxes, not otherwise included as collateral charges, paid by the lessor when the vehicle was initially purchased.

(10) “Lemon Law rights period” means the period ending 24 months after the date of the original delivery of a motor vehicle to a consumer.

(11) “Lessee” means any consumer who leases a motor vehicle for 1 year or more pursuant to a written lease agreement which provides that the lessee is responsible for repairs to such motor vehicle or any consumer who leases a motor vehicle pursuant to a lease-purchase agreement.

(12) “Lessee cost” means the aggregate deposit and rental payments previously paid to the lessor for the leased vehicle but excludes debt from any other transaction.

(13) “Lessor” means a person who holds title to a motor vehicle that is leased to a lessee under a written lease agreement or who holds the lessor’s rights under such agreement.

(14) “Manufacturer” means any person, whether a resident or nonresident of this state, who manufactures or assembles motor vehicles, or who manufactures or assembles chassis for recreational vehicles, or who manufactures or installs on previously assembled truck or recreational vehicle chassis special bodies or equipment which, when installed, forms an integral part of the motor vehicle, a distributor as defined in s. 320.60(5), or an importer as defined in s. 320.60(7). A dealer as defined in s. 320.60(11)(a) shall not be deemed to be a manufacturer, distributor, or importer as provided in this section.

(15) “Motor vehicle” means a new vehicle, propelled by power other than muscular power, which is sold in this state to transport persons or property, and includes a recreational vehicle or a vehicle used as a demonstrator or leased vehicle if a manufacturer’s warranty was issued as a condition of sale, or the lessee is responsible for repairs, but does not include vehicles run only upon tracks, off-road vehicles, trucks over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, motorcycles, mopeds, or the living facilities of recreational vehicles. “Living facilities of recreational vehicles” are those portions designed, used, or maintained primarily as living quarters and include, but are not limited to, the flooring, plumbing system and fixtures, roof air conditioner, furnace, generator, electrical systems other than automotive circuits, the side entrance door, exterior compartments, and windows other than the windshield and driver and front passenger windows.

(16) “Nonconformity” means a defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a motor vehicle, but does not include a defect or condition that results from an accident, abuse, neglect, modification, or alteration of the motor vehicle by persons other than the manufacturer or its authorized service agent.

(17) “Procedure” means an informal dispute-settlement procedure established by a manufacturer to mediate and arbitrate motor vehicle warranty disputes.

(18) “Program” means the mediation and arbitration pilot program for recreational vehicles established in this chapter.

(19) “Purchase price” means the cash price as defined in s. 520.31(1), inclusive of any allowance for a trade-in vehicle, but excludes debt from any other transaction. “Any allowance for a trade-in vehicle” means the net trade-in allowance as reflected in the purchase contract or lease agreement if acceptable to the consumer and manufacturer. If such amount is not acceptable to the consumer and manufacturer, then the trade-in allowance shall be an amount equal to 100 percent of the retail price of the trade-in vehicle as reflected in the NADA Official Used Car Guide (Southeastern Edition) or NADA Recreation Vehicle Appraisal Guide, whichever is applicable, in effect at the time of the trade-in. The manufacturer shall be responsible for providing the applicable NADA book.

(20) “Reasonable offset for use” means the number of miles attributable to a consumer up to the date of a settlement agreement or arbitration hearing, whichever occurs first, multiplied by the purchase price of the vehicle and divided by 120,000, except in the case of a recreational vehicle, in which event it shall be divided by 60,000.

(21) “Recreational vehicle” means a motor vehicle primarily designed to provide temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, or travel use, but does not include a van conversion.

(22) “Replacement motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle which is identical or reasonably equivalent to the motor vehicle to be replaced, as the motor vehicle to be replaced existed at the time of acquisition. “Reasonably equivalent to the motor vehicle to be replaced” means the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the replacement vehicle shall not exceed 105 percent of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the motor vehicle to be replaced. In the case of a recreational vehicle, “reasonably equivalent to the motor vehicle to be replaced” means the retail price of the replacement vehicle shall not exceed 105 percent of the purchase price of the recreational vehicle to be replaced.

(23) “Warranty” means any written warranty issued by the manufacturer, or any affirmation of fact or promise made by the manufacturer, excluding statements made by the dealer, in connection with the sale of a motor vehicle to a consumer which relates to the nature of the material or workmanship and affirms or promises that such material or workmanship is free of defects or will meet a specified level of performance.

681.103 Duty of manufacturer to conform a motor vehicle to the warranty.

(1) If a motor vehicle does not conform to the warranty and the consumer first reports the problem to the manufacturer or its authorized service agent during the Lemon Law rights period, the manufacturer or its authorized service agent shall make such repairs as are necessary to conform the vehicle to the warranty, irrespective of whether such repairs are made after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period. Such repairs shall be at no cost to the consumer if made during the term of the manufacturer’s written express warranty. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to grant an extension of the Lemon Law rights period or to expand the time within which a consumer must file a claim under this chapter.

(2) Each manufacturer shall provide to its consumers conspicuous notice of the address and phone number for its zone, district, or regional office for this state in the written warranty or owner’s manual. By January 1 of each year, each manufacturer shall forward to the Department of Legal Affairs a copy of the owner’s manual and any written warranty for each make and model of motor vehicle that it sells in this state.

(3) At the time of acquisition, the manufacturer shall inform the consumer clearly and conspicuously in writing how and where to file a claim with a certified procedure if such procedure has been established by the manufacturer pursuant to s. 681.108. The manufacturer shall provide to the dealer and, at the time of acquisition, the dealer shall provide to the consumer a written statement that explains the consumer’s rights under this chapter. The written statement shall be prepared by the Department of Legal Affairs and shall contain a toll-free number for the division that the consumer can contact to obtain information regarding the consumer’s rights and obligations under this chapter or to commence arbitration. If the manufacturer obtains a signed receipt for timely delivery of sufficient quantities of this written statement to meet the dealer’s vehicle sales requirements, it shall constitute prima facie evidence of compliance with this subsection by the manufacturer. The consumer’s signed acknowledgment of receipt of materials required under this subsection shall constitute prima facie evidence of compliance by the manufacturer and dealer. The form of the acknowledgments shall be approved by the Department of Legal Affairs, and the dealer shall maintain the consumer’s signed acknowledgment for 3 years.

(4) A manufacturer, through its authorized service agent, shall provide to the consumer, each time the consumer’s motor vehicle is returned after being examined or repaired under the warranty, a fully itemized, legible statement or repair order indicating any test drive performed and the approximate length of the test drive, any diagnosis made, and all work performed on the motor vehicle including, but not limited to, a general description of the problem reported by the consumer or an identification of the defect or condition, parts and labor, the date and the odometer reading when the motor vehicle was submitted for examination or repair, and the date when the repair or examination was completed.

681.104 Nonconformity of motor vehicles.

(1)

(a) After three attempts have been made to repair the same nonconformity, the consumer shall give written notification, by registered or express mail to the manufacturer, of the need to repair the nonconformity to allow the manufacturer a final attempt to cure the nonconformity. The manufacturer shall have 10 days, commencing upon receipt of such notification, to respond and give the consumer the opportunity to have the motor vehicle repaired at a reasonably accessible repair facility within a reasonable time after the consumer’s receipt of the response. The manufacturer shall have 10 days, except in the case of a recreational vehicle, in which event the manufacturer shall have 45 days, commencing upon the delivery of the motor vehicle to the designated repair facility by the consumer, to conform the motor vehicle to the warranty. If the manufacturer fails to respond to the consumer and give the consumer the opportunity to have the motor vehicle repaired at a reasonably accessible repair facility or perform the repairs within the time periods prescribed in this subsection, the requirement that the manufacturer be given a final attempt to cure the nonconformity does not apply.

(b) If the motor vehicle is out of service by reason of repair of one or more nonconformities by the manufacturer or its authorized service agent for a cumulative total of 15 or more days, exclusive of downtime for routine maintenance prescribed by the owner’s manual, the consumer shall so notify the manufacturer in writing by registered or express mail to give the manufacturer or its authorized service agent an opportunity to inspect or repair the vehicle.

(2)

(a) If the manufacturer, or its authorized service agent, cannot conform the motor vehicle to the warranty by repairing or correcting any nonconformity after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer, within 40 days, shall repurchase the motor vehicle and refund the full purchase price to the consumer, less a reasonable offset for use, or, in consideration of its receipt of payment from the consumer of a reasonable offset for use, replace the motor vehicle with a replacement motor vehicle acceptable to the consumer. The refund or replacement must include all reasonably incurred collateral and incidental charges. However, the consumer has an unconditional right to choose a refund rather than a replacement motor vehicle. Upon receipt of such refund or replacement, the consumer, lien holder, or lessor shall furnish to the manufacturer clear title to and possession of the motor vehicle.

(b) Refunds shall be made to the consumer and lien holder of record, if any, as their interests may appear. If applicable, refunds shall be made to the lessor and lessee as follows: The lessee shall receive the lessee cost and the lessor shall receive the lease price less the lessee cost. A penalty for early lease termination may not be assessed against a lessee who receives a replacement motor vehicle or refund under this chapter. The Department of Revenue shall refund to the manufacturer any sales tax which the manufacturer refunded to the consumer, lien holder, or lessor under this section, if the manufacturer provides to the department a written request for a refund and evidence that the sales tax was paid when the vehicle was purchased and that the manufacturer refunded the sales tax to the consumer, lien holder, or lessor.

(3) It is presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform a motor vehicle to the warranty if, during the Lemon Law rights period, either:

(a) The same nonconformity has been subject to repair at least three times by the manufacturer or its authorized service agent, plus a final attempt by the manufacturer to repair the motor vehicle if undertaken as provided for in paragraph (1)(a), and such nonconformity continues to exist; or

(b) The motor vehicle has been out of service by reason of repair of one or more nonconformities by the manufacturer, or its authorized service agent, for a cumulative total of 30 or more days, 60 or more days in the case of a recreational vehicle, exclusive of downtime for routine maintenance prescribed by the owner’s manual. The manufacturer or its authorized service agent must have had at least one opportunity to inspect or repair the vehicle following receipt of the notification as provided in paragraph (1)(b). The 30-day period, or 60-day period in the case of a recreational vehicle, may be extended by any period of time during which repair services are not available to the consumer because of war, invasion, strike, fire, flood, or natural disaster.

(4) It is an affirmative defense to any claim under this chapter that:

(a) The alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the motor vehicle;

(b) The nonconformity is the result of an accident, abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the motor vehicle by persons other than the manufacturer or its authorized service agent; or

(c) The claim by the consumer was not filed in good faith.

Any other affirmative defense allowed by law may be raised against the claim.

681.106 Bad faith claims.

Any claim by a consumer which is found by the court to have been filed in bad faith or solely for the purpose of harassment, or in complete absence of a justiciable issue of either law or fact raised by the consumer, shall result in the consumer being liable for all costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the manufacturer, or its agent, as a direct result of the bad faith claim.

681.108 Dispute-settlement procedures.

(1) If a manufacturer has established a procedure, which the division has certified as substantially complying with the provisions of 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983, and with the provisions of this chapter and the rules adopted under this chapter, and has informed the consumer how and where to file a claim with such procedure pursuant to s. 681.103(3), the provisions of s. 681.104(2) apply to the consumer only if the consumer has first resorted to such procedure. The decision makers for a certified procedure shall, in rendering decisions, take into account all legal and equitable factors germane to a fair and just decision, including, but not limited to, the warranty; the rights and remedies conferred under 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983; the provisions of this chapter; and any other equitable considerations appropriate under the circumstances. Decision makers and staff of a procedure shall be trained in the provisions of this chapter and in 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983. In an action brought by a consumer concerning an alleged nonconformity, the decision that results from a certified procedure is admissible in evidence.

(2) A manufacturer may apply to the division for certification of its procedure. After receipt and evaluation of the application, the division shall certify the procedure or notify the manufacturer of any deficiencies in the application or the procedure.

(3) A certified procedure or a procedure of an applicant seeking certification shall submit to the division a copy of each settlement approved by the procedure or decision made by a decision maker within 30 days after the settlement is reached or the decision is rendered. The decision or settlement must contain at a minimum the:

1.      Name and address of the consumer;

2.      Name of the manufacturer and address of the dealership from which the motor vehicle was purchased;

3.      Date the claim was received and the location of the procedure office that handled the claim;

4.      Relief requested by the consumer;

5.      Name of each decision maker rendering the decision or person approving the settlement;

6.      Statement of the terms of the settlement or decision;

7.      Date of the settlement or decision; and

8.      Statement of whether the decision was accepted or rejected by the consumer.

(4) Any manufacturer establishing or applying to establish a certified procedure must file with the division a copy of the annual audit required under the provisions of 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983, together with any additional information required for purposes of certification, including the number of refunds and replacements made in this state pursuant to the provisions of this chapter by the manufacturer during the period audited.

(5) The division shall review each certified procedure at least annually, prepare an annual report evaluating the operation of certified procedures established by motor vehicle manufacturers and procedures of applicants seeking certification, and, for a period not to exceed 1 year, shall grant certification to, or renew certification for, those manufacturers whose procedures substantially comply with the provisions of 16 C.F.R. part 703, in effect October 1, 1983, and with the provisions of this chapter and rules adopted under this chapter. If certification is revoked or denied, the division shall state the reasons for such action. The reports and records of actions taken with respect to certification shall be public records.

(6) A manufacturer whos

  source:  Center for Auto Safety  http://www.autosafety.org/