Lemon Law: Tell me your experiences (and input needed)

So…I purchased a brand new vehicle this year. New model (first year it’s out).

I love the vehicle. It meets all my needs, is stylish, refined. While it is pricey its a great value with a ton of features, and is just overall nice, except for one major defect which I’m trying to resolve.

The stereo hums/buzzes. Loudly. It’s some sort of electrical interference. The hum is always present with the system on (and is sometimes present when its off, as all the vehicle sounds, such as door chimes and turn signals are actually piped through the speakers). Any time the vehicle chimes I get the hum/buzz that stays on for several seconds until the amp powers off.

The hum/buzz itself is annoying, but the stereo also picks up electrical noise from the engine compartment. For example, I get engine whine that increases in pitch with RPM played through the speaker system if the radio is on. If I shut off the radio, its dead silent. Its loud enough to bother me enough that unless I’m in the mood for loud music (which drowns it out), I just keep it off.

I’ve been trying in vain to get it fixed. The folks on the manufacturer hotline have been doing a great job and following up daily to see if its been remedied, but are insisting that I work through the dealership network to get it fixed. One dealer simply did not act in good faith - three trips, no effort on their part and no resolution (“its normal”). They referred me to another dealer who agrees its a substantial issue not present on other vehicles in their inventory. They have been working with the manufacturer’s product engineers to try to figure out what’s wrong.

They had it for two days this week and pretty much pulled the electrical system out and replaced several major components (including the radio and amp), installed electrical noise filters, etc. No luck. They want it for another week to disconnect all electrical components and reconnect them until they can isolate the problem, which requires that they tear up the interior to get to all the connection points, an idea I’m not too fond of due to the risk of introducing fit and finish issues and rattles once they piece the dashboard back together. They are willing to provide a comparable loaner car while its being serviced, so its not too much of an inconvienience.

Overall I’m frustrated with the problem but am encouraged that they are making a good effort to fix it. However, at this point I’m getting tired. It should have not left the factory like this. So, my question is…have any of you ever filed a lemon law complaint? If so, what was it for, and what was the resolution?

Florida law states that “If the manufacturer can prove that no problem exists or that the problem does not substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety, then you will not get your refund or replacement.” The nature of the defect must be one “that substantially impairs the use, safety, or market value of the vehicle.”

I’m really not sure if I would qualify - this is not related to the drivetrain or major mechanical component. Its the radio. But it’s defective, and no one sells a vehicle without a radio anymore, so I would assume that this issue could qualify for “substantial impairment/value”…but maybe not.

For those of you familar with such issues, I’m curious as to where the line gets drawn. Any input or experiences?


You did not mention the make of the car, so I can’t comment about how reasonable a particular company may or may not be IMHO. Not all car companies have the same attitude toward lemon law cars.
But in reading the law for your state, it allows for three repair attempts, and if I read your OP correctly, they are on attempt number 4 right now.
I would suggest that the next time the person from the auto makers consumer affairs department calls, bring up the fact that this is the 4th attempt, the law allows for three, and that you can make a pretty good argument that no functional sound system would substantially impair your vehicle’s use, and value.
This should make the CA rep go :eek: If they protest ask if they have a functional radio in their car? :smiley:
Then say, look I love my car, but I need a car with a functional sound system. Your people swapped a bunch of components this week, and now want to tear the dash and interior out. I consider this dash disassembly to be your final repair attempt under the Florida Lemon Law*. I am also worried that if they pull the entire dash assembly and interior that there will be fit / finish / rattle issues down the road from the work that is being done.** I don’t want to be a hard case here, but we both know that this car is currently eligible for a buy back under my state’s law. Now I could go get a lawyer and file suit, but it would be a lot easier if your company would swap this car for another like it that does not have this problem. So how about it, can we do this the easy way or do I have to go the hard way? I will give your company until Monday to contact me about this before I go to a lawyer. Follow this phone call with an email or snail mail letter. (registered return receipt)

Depending on the car company, they may at this point cave in and offer a similar car.*** Other car companies will try to stonewall you. If they don’t seem to be interested in going ahead with a buy back, pursue the Lemon law by either contacting an attorney or filing the Motor Vehicle Defect Notification yourself.

If they bring up that the first dealer didn’t do anything, and therefore doesn’t count, tell them that they are responsible for training dealership technicians and if the technicians at dealer X are screw ups, energize your SEP field and remind them that it is the car company’s responsibility to ride herd on their dealers, not yours.

Speaking as a former car company employee that sometimes dealt with buyback cars (from the technical end) if the facts are as you laid them out, the car company would be nuts not to do a collateral swap and put you into another car. I heard it said once that if an attorney gets involved with a buy back it pretty much doubled our costs. If we went to court, it was going to cost us a minimum of $100K. win or lose.

Good luck.

  • IANAL and legally this may in fact not be the final repair attempt, but we are playing poker here. You are trying to bluff just a little. 'K?
    **If done right there won’t be, but don’t admit that. :wink:
    *** I doubt the offer will come in this phone call, but I would expect a call back from someone else in a day or so.