Florida Lemon Law

Not sure if this is a GQ or an IMHO-

I bought a 2005 Kia Sportage in December, and I’ve had a problem that the shop doesn’t seem able to fix. The long and short of it is, the truck loses power to the point of being completely undriveable. The first time I brought it in, they said it was the throttle position sensor and replaced it. Went on my way, a few weeks later it repeated. Had it towed, second verse same as the first- this time they said it was something with the onboard computer system but it was all taken care of now. Drove it off. 4 weeks later? BAM. Happened again on Friday. This is strike 3 for the exact same problem and (according to the websites I’ve referenced) their last shot at fixing it.

My question is has anyone ever had to do this whole lemon law thing? Is it something that requires a lawyer or is it a pretty straightforward process? By the sounds, if the repair fails this time (the third time), I should file a Motor Vehicle Defect Notification with the dealer, which gives them 10 days to either make one last effort to fix the issue or to waive that attempt and let the case go on to arbitration. If it fails again after the last attempt to fix (the 4th total), then the case proceeds to the arbitration board and they determine if the car qualifies.

Any thoughts or advice on this? I know- document, document, document- we’re doing that. But anything else? What a mess. I love the truck otherwise, but man, I can’t be getting stranded on the side of the freaking freeway with it. Personally I think on a new vehicle, 3 (actually 4) attempts to fix the problem is way too much.

Boy, how I wish we could edit.

Upon further reading, it appears that first you submit your case directly to the company and if their decision isn’t satisfactory you then proceed to a state sponsored arbitration. If their decision isn’t satisfactory, you then proceed to another FL decision maker. Wow.

What I can’t seem to find out is how they determine the value of the vehicle. I bought it in 2005 new and have a loan out for the entire amount. If I took a “refund”, I’d still owe on my loan. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take a replacement, possibly a 2006 if it comes to it? It would probably come out to about equal to my current loan. Do you have to go through and refinance your loan in a case like this?

Man, what a pain in the ASS!


Ahhhhhhhh, my specialty. Now, I have never filed a lemon law, but have come close once. I purchased a Kia Sportage for my ex-wife, and it kept dying while going down the highway. To prove she wasn’t crazy, she had me drive it, and bam, it happened. In busy traffic, at that. Not a fun situation, so I sympathize with you. Now, from experience with Kia (although they have gotten better with time), they are used to dealing with situations like this. Their cars break, and break big, I don’t care what consumer reports says. OH, I LIVE IN FLORIDA ALSO.

Hopefully, you have a copy of your lemon law book, which by law the salesperson is supposed to provide you upon purchase of your car. If not, let me know and I will provide one for you. NOTE: LEMON LAW IS ONLY APPLICABLE IF YOU PURCHASED THE CAR NEW.

Now, I work at a higher-end car dealership. They will never let a car go as far as lemon law as it does not make them look very good as far as statistics go. Also, I worked at a Lincoln dealership before, same story. They would buy the car back. Now, buying the car back is definitely an option for Kia. I am not sure if they will definitely do it, but they will save money in lawyers fees, etc., because as a consumer, they have to prove that the car is not a lemon, not the other way around.

However, buying it back is not always a good option for you, because it basically means that they will give you ‘something’, but not everything.

My understanding of lemon law in conversation with customers who have done it is basically simple. You get all money back invested in the car, including interest, past payments, down payment, etc. The only thing that is charged against you is miles on the car at a set rate by the State of Florida, as these are the miles you put on the car.

Side note: If you do not have all applicable paperwork, all service departments keep a record of all service work (including mechanics notes sometimes). If your dealership is giving you a hard time, you could always get them from another Kia Dealership.

Good luck.

Hey, thanks for the info! I guess from what I read the dealership has the option to make it right first (offer a new car or refund). If they refuse, it goes to state arbitration under the lemon law.

We just got it back today and I know they are trying to fix it once and for all- they kept it from Sat until today, in fact. I have no doubt it will fail again, at which time I’ll take it up with the company and get a new one or whatever. I like the SUV, but this problem has got to stop. The new Kias are supposed to be good, but this one just has the same reoccuring problem.

The good thing is that all 3 of these services have been done at the same shop and are documented as being the exact same problem. We got loaners each time, too, which means they acknowledged that the car was out of commision each time. So now I guess we play the waiting game and see what happens. You’re right about the lemon law thing, though- I can’t imagine with this issue they’ll not offer to settle it without going through that channel- it’s a very (IMHO) clear cut case of the same defect occuring again and again.

And I did purchase the car new- it’s a 2005 and I got it in Dec of 05.

I was mostly wondering if this sounded like a classic “lemon law” case or not. It sure does to me, but I have had no experience in this area before. But hey, it’s had the exact same problem now 3 times and each time it’s rendered undriveable. That reads like the very definition that the state uses for a lemon.

We settled with a big American auto maker over a lemon in CA rather than FL, but here is our experience for what it’s worth.

IIRC, the law required that the car be in the shop for the same problem or defect for 30 days (not necessarily consecutive). Our problem was a doozy- the car lost all power at freeway speed, thus disabling the power steering, brakes, everything. Yep, the car tried to kill my husband twice. The shop tried multiple times to fix the problem over 30 days, but were never able to diagnose what was causing the total system failure, and they tried a lot of things.

Our dealership was very unwilling to help with anything, and the auto maker was also jerkish. We originally just asked for a different car- nope. Then we tried to just end the relationship, with them taking the car back and us being released from the loan, with no return of payments we had already made- nope. We got frustrated at the lies and double-talk from the dealer and the manufacturer, so we contacted a lawyer and filed suit.

The attorney the car company assigned to the case was fresh out of law school and clueless (seriously- it was her first depo ever) and she botched it badly. They ended up paying out the ass for their failure to be reasonable and avoid a lawsuit- we are talking paying back every penny we spent on the car, plus PITA money.

We later found out that the same problem was happening throughout the model in multiple production years, and the company was sticking it’s head in the sand hoping it would all just go away.

Close, but in California there is also a three repair attempts rule (car maker / dealer gets three strilkes) regardless of the days out of service. For serious safety related defects, only 1 attempt is allowed. [funny hijack] Customer tried to get a 1 repair attempt on an AM radio inop complaint. WTF? He could not get traffic reports, so it was “safety” related. NOT![/fh]
Here is a State of Flordia site explaining the lemon law provisions and here is another one

One word of advice, keep every recipt, work order, bill, scrap of paper. You will need it later.

Yes, it does sound like a classic lemon law case. Three times with that same problem. You gave them opportunity to fix it. IANAL, but I suggest you start the lemon law process now. This way when the car breaks again, it is more gas to put in the fire. THEM: This is not really a problem. We fixed it now, no more problem. YOU: Well, it just broke again. THEM: Oops.

Also, I believe there is something in the lemon law about two weeks in the shop also. This does not mean it has to have two weeks in the shop. It is either/or: certain amount of time in the shop, repeated attempts to fix the same problem, or very like problems, etc. Now, the problem can not be minor (broken cigarette lighter, CD player) UNLESS they are all part of the same problem (electrical, etc.).

Good luck. Remember if it goes further car dealers are guilty in the eyes of the courts and public before even going anywhere!

Thanks for that, Former. I am going to obtain the paperwork and get it all ready to go so that the DAY it happens again (and it will, I already know it) I can file my complaint with the company, no fucking around. According to FL law, they get 3 attempts to fix it (which they now have used) OR 15 days in the shop total (I believe at this point we’re at 8 thus far.

I can’t see them arguing the point that it’s a debilitating problem, either- when it occurs, the car just plain doesn’t go. And it can stop at any point- freeway, whatever. Just no going.

One more thing, I think there is a time limit from time of purchase to time of complaint, so hurry!