What is the Florida Lemon Law?

lemon law
When consumers buy or lease a new motor vehicle, they receive a Lemon Law rights booklet that explains their rights and gives steps to follow to resolve problems. The booklet also contains a toll-free number for the Lemon Law Hotline and a form the consumer can use to notify the manufacturer of chronic defects (via certified or express mail).

After the third repair for the same problem, the consumer gives notice to the manufacturer to afford a final opportunity to repair the vehicle. Upon receipt of notice, the manufacturer has 10 days to direct the consumer to a repair facility, and then up to 10 days from delivery of the vehicle to fix it. The consumer is eligible for relief if the problem still exists after the final attempt. If the vehicle is out of service for repair for a cumulative total of 30 or more days, the consumer is eligible for relief, provided notice was given after the vehicle was out of service 15 or more days and the manufacturer or its authorized service agent had at least one opportunity to inspect or repair the vehicle.

If the manufacturer does not provide a refund or a replacement vehicle, consumers can invoke their rights through one or two arbitration programs. The consumer must file a claim for arbitration within six months after the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period. The dispute must be submitted for arbitration to a manufacturer-sponsored program, if that program was certified by the state when the consumer acquired the vehicle. The manufacturer’s warranty explains how and where to file a claim with a certified program.

Consumers in Florida may call the Lemon Law Hotline (1-800-321-5366) , consumers out of state may call (850) 488-2221 , to find out if their manufacturer has a state-certified program.

The dispute must be submitted to the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, administered by the Office of the Attorney General, if the manufacturer has no certified program, the certified program fails to render a decision in 40 days or the consumer is dissatisfied with the certified program’s decision. The consumer initiates the process by contacting the Lemon Law Hotline (1-800-321-5366) to obtain a Request for Arbitration form. The form is submitted for eligibility screening to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Once a case is approved for arbitration before the board, a hearing will be scheduled within 40 days. A panel of three arbitrators hears the case at one of ten regional sites around the state. Hearings are held during normal working hours and are conducted in accordance with Florida’s Open Meetings Law. At the hearing’s conclusion, the board renders an oral decision which is subsequently reduced to writing and mailed to the consumer and the manufacturer.

If the board determines the vehicle is a “lemon,” the consumer is awarded either a replacement vehicle or a refund, including collateral and incidental charges, less an offset for the consumer’s use of the vehicle. The case is dismissed if the board rules in favor of the manufacturer. Decisions of the board are final unless an appeal is filed with the circuit court within 30 days. If the award is not appealed, the manufacturer must comply within 40 days of receipt of the written decision.