Maryland’s Lemon Law gives car buyers the remedy of repurchase or replacement of their vehicle. “If, during the warranty period, the manufacturer or factory branch, its agent, or its authorized dealer is unable to repair or correct any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use and market value of the motor vehicle to the consumer after a reasonable number of attempts…” Commercial Law, Annotated Code of Maryland, Section 14-1502(c).
You will win under Maryland’s Lemon Law if you can prove that the carmaker is “unable to repair or correct any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use and market value of the motor vehicle to the consumer.”
Most Lemon Law cases in Maryland are brought in conjunction with other statutes. So if there is a defective vehicle, the plaintiff’s attorney will usually file a lawsuit alleging violations of these three statutes:
- Automotive Warranty Enforcement Act, Md. Commercial Law §§14-1501, et seq. This is Maryland’s Lemon Law.
- The Magnuson-Moss Act, U.S.C. §§15-2301, et seq. This is a federal law.
- The Consumer Protection Act, Md. Commercial Law §§13-301, et seq.
Summary of Maryland Lemon Law
Maryland’s Lemon Law is designed to protect consumers who purchase or lease new vehicles that turn out to be defective. The law covers cars, light trucks, and motorcycles that are purchased or leased in Maryland and have a manufacturer’s warranty. The law provides that if the vehicle has a defect or nonconformity that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle and the manufacturer or dealer cannot repair the defect after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer must either replace or repurchase the vehicle.
To qualify for protection under the Lemon Law, the defect must be reported to the manufacturer or dealer within the first 2 years of the date of delivery of the vehicle or the first 18,000 miles of use, whichever comes first. The law also requires that the consumer provide the manufacturer or dealer with a reasonable opportunity to repair the vehicle before the manufacturer is required to provide a replacement or repurchase.
If the manufacturer or dealer is unable to repair the defect, the consumer must provide written notice to the manufacturer and allow one final attempt to repair the vehicle. If the final attempt fails, the manufacturer is then required to provide the consumer with a replacement vehicle or a full refund of the purchase price, including any trade-in allowance.
It is important to note that the Lemon Law does not cover used cars, trucks, or motorcycles, nor does it cover defects caused by abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications to the vehicle. Additionally, the law does not cover defects that do not substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.
How to Bring a Lemon Law Claim in Maryland
If you believe you have a lemon in Maryland, follow these steps to bring a claim under the state’s lemon law:
- Determine if your vehicle is eligible: To qualify for protection under Maryland’s Lemon Law, the vehicle must:
- Be a passenger vehicle, including cars, light trucks, and motorcycles
- Be newly purchased or leased in Maryland
- Have less than 18,000 miles and be less than 24 months from the date of delivery
- Have a defect that substantially impairs the use, market value, or safety of the vehicle
- Document and report the problem: Good records are key. Keep detailed records of all defects, repairs, and communication with the manufacturer or authorized dealer. Notify the manufacturer or dealer of the problem as soon as it arises. Ensure that all repair attempts are documented on the repair order provided by the dealership.
- Allow for a reasonable number of repair attempts: Under Maryland’s Lemon Law, you must give the manufacturer or authorized dealer a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defect. The law considers it a reasonable number of attempts if the same defect has been subject to repair four or more times, or the vehicle has been out of service for a cumulative total of 30 or more days.
- Request a final repair attempt: If the defect persists after the reasonable number of repair attempts, notify the manufacturer in writing of the issue and request a final repair attempt. The manufacturer has ten days to respond and schedule the repair attempt.
- File a Lemon Law complaint: If the defect remains unresolved after the final repair attempt, you may be eligible to file a claim under Maryland’s Lemon Law. You can file a complaint with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division, which offers mediation services to help resolve the dispute. Alternatively, you can file a lawsuit in court.
- Gather documentation: Collect all records and documentation related to the vehicle’s defects, repair attempts, and communication with the manufacturer or authorized dealer. This documentation will be critical in proving your lemon law claim.
- Seek legal assistance: While it is not required, you may consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in lemon law cases to guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected. (Our law firm does not handle these cases.)
Attorneys’ Fees Under Maryland’s Lemon Law?
Maryland’s Lemon Law and the federal Magnuson-Moss Act both provide you with the ability to get attorneys’ fees if you win. Section 14-1502(c) of the Maryland Lemon Law mandates:
(c) Uncorrectable defects. –
(1) If, during the warranty period, the manufacturer or factory branch, its agent, or its authorized dealer (emphasis added) is unable to repair or correct any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use and market value of the motor vehicle to the consumer after a reasonable number of attempts (emphasis added), the manufacturer or factory branch, at the option of the consumer, shall:
(i) Replace the motor vehicle with a comparable motor vehicle acceptable to the consumer; or
(ii) Accept return of the motor vehicle from the consumer and refund to the consumer the full purchase price…
Our Lemon Law in §14-1502(1) goes on to state that:
(1) Attorney’s fees. –
(1) A Court may award reasonable attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff under this section.
Similarly, §§2310(d)(1) and (2) of the Magnuson-Moss Act provide:
(1)… a consumer who is damaged by the failure of a supplier, warrantor, or service contractor to comply with any obligation under this chapter, or under a written warranty, implied warranty, or service contract, may bring suit for damages and other equitable relief-
(2) If a consumer finally prevails in any action brought under paragraph (1) of this subsection, he may be allowed by the court to recover as part of the judgment a sum equal to the aggregate amount of costs and expenses (including attorney’s fees based on actual time expended.) determined by the court to have been reasonably incurred by the plaintiff for or in commection with the commencement and prosecution of such action, unless the Court in its discretion shall determine that such an award of attorney’s fees would be inappropriate.