Pennsylvania Lemon Law

The Pennsylvania Lemon Law (73 P. S. sec. 1951 et seq.) is a powerful state statute that protects consumers and purchasers of defective motor vehicles. The Lemon Law was established in 1984, and originally protected only those individuals who actually purchased a motor vehicle. In the late 1990’s, with the popularity of leasing a vehicle increasing dramatically, the PA legislature began to see that those individuals who leased what turned out to be defective vehicles were left without a remedy under the Pennsylvania Lemon Law. To that end, the legislature amended the PA Lemon Law in 2001 to include vehicles that were leased after February 11, 2002 for protection under the law. The PA Lemon Law, in a nutshell, provides for a refund of the purchase price or a replacement of the defective vehicle if certain criteria are met with regards to the defective conditions of the vehicle. The defective condition must substantially affect the Use, Value or Safety of the vehicle in question. Whether the Use, Value or Safety is affected for the most part requires application of the common sense test. If the vehicle has problems with the engine stalling while making left turns, that would likely be a serious problem that affects Use, Value and Safety. If the vehicle’s radio doesn’t pick up someone’s favorite station, that likely would not qualify as an impairment under the statute.

The PA Lemon Law provides that the first occurrence of the defect must arise within the first 12,000 miles, and that the Manufacturer be notified in that time frame as well. This notification can come simply in the form of having the purchaser/lessor take the vehicle in to the dealer for a repair. The law provides that the Manufacturer must be given a reasonable number of attempts to cure the defect, and in Pennsylvania there is a presumption that the number of repair attempts is three. An exception to that rule exists in that one occurrence of a defect which might cause death or serious bodily injury would be enough to render the vehicle a lemon. The type of defect necessary to fulfill that exception is not defined by the statute, and there has been no actual case law that has established what type of defect that might be. After the third occurrence of the defect, the purchaser/lessor of the vehicle can bring a claim under the Lemon Law, seeking either a refund of the purchase price or a replacement vehicle. The Lemon Law also provides for recovery of all consequential and incidental damages, which generally include all payments made towards financing, any down payment made, any charges for repair costs, rental car charges, towing charges and the like. Perhaps the most important aspect of the Lemon Law is that it provides that the Manufacturer must pay the consumer’s Attorney Fees and costs if the vehicle is found to be a lemon. This serves to provide the public with free legal representation in Lemon Law cases. It would be hard to imagine a more public friendly statute.

Greg Artim is a Pittsburgh Pennsylvania based Consumer Attorney assisting individuals with defective motor vehicle claims in all of Western Pennsylvania. Visit his website at http://www.ihatemylemon.com

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