Big Mistakes & Broken Cars: How Wisconsin Law Protects Car Buyers

lemonlawThe decision to buy a vehicle is one of the most significant purchase decisions a person makes. For most Wisconsin families, car payments make a big impact on family finances. Add unexpected problems with the car, and costs skyrocket due to repair costs and expenses associated with not having reliable transportation.

Does this sound all too familiar to you? Are you experiencing transportation and financial setbacks due to a troublesome car? Is the stress of this overwhelming you?

If you answered “yes,” you probably want to know if there is anything you can do to recoup all of your losses. Could your broken car, in fact, be a “lemon?” If it is, there is some good news. Wisconsin’s Lemon Laws protect you and others like you who buy or lease new vehicles from dealerships.

Is Your Car Really a Lemon?

In March of 2014, Wisconsin made significant changes to its Lemon Laws, limiting some of the protections that were previously available to consumers. The new Lemon Laws set out certain standards regarding who qualifies and what remedies exist.

The laws do not define every broken car as a lemon. To qualify, the vehicle must have a “nonconformity … [that] substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the motor vehicle.” Further:

  • The car must have the same problem after four repair visits to an authorized vehicle dealer
  • The car must have been out-of-service for at least 30 days total because of the problem
  • The problem must have developed within the first year after purchase, while the car was under warranty

If Your Car Is a Lemon, You May Get Compensation

If your car meets the Lemon Laws standard, you may be entitled to compensation. The laws direct car manufacturers to replace the lemon with a comparable, new motor vehicle or provide a full refund to you. If the vehicle is under lease, you can get full refunds of the money paid.

If you decide that you would like a refund, the manufacturer must offer one promptly. They have only 30 days from receiving your offer to transfer title back to the dealer because of the problem.

If you decide you would like another car, the manufacturer has 45 days (or 120 days for a “heavy duty” vehicle) from the date you gave notice to provide a new car. If a replacement vehicle cannot be located, the manufacturer is entitled to give you a refund instead.

There Is a Time Limit, So Take Fast Action

Under the law, there are time limits that apply to consumers, too. You must file the claim within three years (36 months) of taking physical ownership of the motor vehicle. If that time period passes and you do not file a claim, you waive your rights to recover compensation.

Unsure of Your Options? Call a Lawyer.

If you think your car might be a lemon, talking with a lawyer knowledgeable in Wisconsin Lemon Laws can be the most useful way to get clear and current information. You are always welcome to contact us regarding the laws and how they may apply in your case.