I Think I Have A Lemon. What Should I Do?

  • Get a repair order for every repair visit, even if the shop doesn`t diagnose the problem or attempt a repair. A repair order should show the problem you report, and the dates your car is in the shop.
  • Keep purchase contracts, warranties, and repair orders to prove you have a lemon. Don`t keep repair orders in your car where they may get lost.
  • We suggest you use the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDot) Motor Vehicle Lemon Law Notice form to ask the manufacturer for a refund or replacement vehicle. Send the form to the manufacturer at the address in your owners manual. Your refund should include the full purchase price, sales tax, any finance charge, and collateral costs (for example, repairs, towing, alternative transportation), minus the mileage deduction allowed by law. If you get a replacement vehicle, the manufacturer should refund your collateral costs and charge nothing for mileage.
  • If you return to the manufacturer a vehicle that has missing equipment or unrepaired damage beyond normal wear and tear, a manufacturer may want to negotiate a damage deduction. You should not be responsible for paying for normal wear and tear, such as minor dents, scratches, pitted glass, soiled carpets, minor stains or tears. Feel free to have the damage appraised at a location you choose, or to have it repaired rather than paying a deduction.
  • If you don`t get a refund or replacement by writing the manufacturer, consider using your manufacturer`s arbitration program. If your manufacturer has a program certified by WisDOT, you must use it before you can sue under the Lemon Law. If your manufacturer`s program is not certified, you do not have to use it. However, if you do use it, you might get a decision you like. You can reject any decision you don`t like. See the list of arbitration programs listed in the next question.
  • Talk to an attorney if the manufacturer doesn`t help you. A court may need to decide if your vehicle is a lemon and what settlement you deserve. If you sue the manufacturer and win, you could get double the vehicle purchase price, plus other costs and attorney fees. To find an attorney who handles Lemon Law cases, contact the State Bar of Wisconsin Attorney Referral Service toll­free at (800) 362­9082, or at (608) 257­4666.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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