In 2014, Arkansas passed a New Motor Vehicle Quality Assurance Act, better known as the Arkansas Lemon Law. A “lemon” is the common name for a new car that requires repeated service and repairs, often without entirely fixing the problem. The name likely originated from a 1960’s Volkswagen ad that depicted “picking out” every car that didn’t meet the car manufacturer’s standards. Today, “lemon” is almost universally understood to be synonymous with shoddy craftsmanship.
Under the Lemon Law, Arkansas owners are protected if their car is determined to be a “lemon” within 2 years or 24,000 miles of purchase.
This doesn’t mean that you can automatically get a refund or a new car if yours has problems, however; it’s a bit more complex than that. Below, we’ve done the work of decoding the Arkansas Lemon Law to put it in plain language for you.
Which Vehicles are Covered?
The law covers a motor vehicle that has been licensed, purchased, or leased in Arkansas. You must be sure that your vehicle is legally registered and titled, also.
As the owner or lessee of the vehicle, you are covered for the full length of the Motor Vehicle Quality Assurance period, which is 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes LAST. If the vehicle changes ownership during that period of time, it is still covered under the Lemon Law.
Which Vehicles are NOT Covered?
5 types of vehicles are NOT covered under this law: mopeds, motorcycles, the “living facility” or interior portion of a motor home, vehicles weighing over 13,000 pounds, and vehicles that have been significantly altered after their purchase.
Which Defects are Covered?
“Nonconformities” that substantially impact the use, safety, or market value of a vehicle, OR that make the vehicle nonconforming to the manufacturer’s warranty, are covered.
Nonconformity is defined as “any specific or generic defect or condition, or any combination of defects and conditions.”
Many defects clearly pose a substantial safety risk: faulty brakes or steering, defective seatbelts, wiring problems, and much more. It’s less clear whether other defects would fall into that category, and determination of such may vary by state.
What’s the Difference Between a Lemon and a Recalled Car?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the authority to “issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety related defects or do not meet safety standards” (NHTSA website).
Recalls occur when a defect is found in one or more cars that may be replicated across multiple vehicles of the same make and model. The manufacturer is required to repair the defect at no cost to the consumer. Manufacturers may voluntarily issue these recalls, as well. Examples of this recall include the widespread Takata Corps airbag recall and Mazda’s recent recall of some RX-8 models over fuel pump sealing rings.
A “lemon” vehicle, on the other hand, is one that has been repaired and serviced multiple times and still has problems. It is unlikely that more repairs will provide a final solution for the car.
When Should You File a Claim under the Arkansas Lemon Law?
Most attorneys recommend that filing a claim under the Lemon Law is a last resort.
Manufacturers are given a “reasonable number of attempts” to repair the defects. In Arkansas, they can attempt the repairs up to 4 times (or up to 2 times when there is a serious risk of death or injury) before being required to repurchase or replace the car. If the reasonable attempts fail, they must issue the refund or replacement within 40 days of the final attempt.
Questions? You can find a more detailed Arkansas Lemon Law Summary from the Better Business Bureau or this Consumer Alert from the Arkansas Attorney General.
Find an Arkansas Defective Product Lawyer at Taylor King Law
Have you or someone you know been injured by a defective mechanism or recall on your vehicle? You may have legal rights to compensation. The attorneys at Taylor King Law can help; call 1-800-CAR WRECK or submit an online form to begin your no-obligation Free Consultation.