Delaware’s lemon law covers any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use and value, or safety of the motor vehicle to the consumer. The lemon law defines these issues as “nonconformities.” Delaware’s lemon law does not cover nonconformities resulting from abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or alterations by the purchaser.
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The Delaware lemon law compels manufacturers to repair eligible nonconformities as long as the consumer reports the problem within the term of the warranty or within a period of one year after the vehicle’s delivery to the consumer, whichever is earlier. Once notified, the manufacturer must make the necessary repairs within a reasonable amount of time.
The consumer must allow the manufacturer a reasonable number of repair attempts to bring the vehicle into compliance with the warranty. The lemon law defines a “reasonable number of attempts” as four attempts to fix the same problem without success. After this, if the nonconformity remains, or if the vehicle is out of service for more than 30 calendar days, the manufacturer must repurchase or replace the vehicle.
The Delaware lemon law requires manufacturers to repay the full purchase price when repurchasing a vehicle, including credit for any trade-in vehicles. They must also repay any related purchase costs, including sales taxes, registration fees and dealer preparation fees. The manufacturer may withhold a reasonable allowance for use, calculated using the number of miles driven before the first report of nonconformity.
Delaware’s lemon law compels manufacturers replacing a vehicle to provide a new vehicle comparable to the one being replaced. They must also reimburse the consumer for any incidental costs, including dealer preparation fees, registration fees, sales taxes or other charges. The reasonable allowance for use provision does not apply in cases of replacement.
If the manufacturer has established an informal dispute settlement procedure, i.e. arbitration, the consumer must first resort to it before pursuing repurchase or replacement. The procedure must be certified or approved by the Delaware Division of Consumer Protection.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
Delaware consumers with warrantied vehicle problems would be well served to contact a law firm for a consultation on what their next step should be, whether it be going through with arbitration or proceeding to trial. In court, consumers are guaranteed the ability to gather evidence under the state’s civil discovery rules, and to be represented by a qualified lawyer who can guide them through the often complex legal process.
By pursuing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Delaware consumers can hire lemon lawyers who will represent them without the vehicle owner having to pay any attorneys’ fees directly out of their pocket. This is because the federal Act provides that the vehicle manufacturer shall pay the claimants’ reasonable attorneys’ fees if the claimant prevails against the manufacturer.
LemonLawUSA.org is sponsored by Texas Lemon Law Attorney Allen Stewart P.C.