FAQs

General Information

The Final Repair Attempt

The Hearing

Vehicle Refund Award Formulas & Vehicle Replacement Terms

Frequently Asked Questions For VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS

Frequently Asked Questions About NON-ARBITRATION OPTIONS

What are the eligibility requirements to file a lemon law claim?

A Demand For Arbitration will be docketed for a hearing when it is completed in full, accompanied by the information requested within Enclosures and submitted per the Filing Instructions. The claim will be returned if applicable enclosures are omitted. Please remember the preparation and presentation of the case is your responsibility.

Minimum Eligibility Requirements

  • The vehicle was purchased or leased in Vermont or is registered in Vermont.
  • At least the first repair attempt for the claimed defect(s) was covered by the manufacturer's express warranty for a "three-times-out" claim.
  • The defect(s)/condition(s) is present as of the date of filing for a "three- times-out" claim.
  • The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for a truck cannot exceed 12,000 pounds. Refer to the GVWR label on the inside edge of driver's door or refer to manufacturer or dealer documentation.
  • A business or commercial enterprise may have a maximum of two registered or leased vehicles.
  • Vehicles within a government entity are not covered under Vermont's lemon law.
  • A vehicle finance account must be current as of the date of the hearing.
  • A consumer is precluded from filing through the State of Vermont process if the manufacturer's dispute settlement mechanism is elected. This third-party option is usually referenced in the owner's manual.
  • A claim must be filed within one year after the expiration of the manufacturer's express warranty.

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How does the lemon law work?

There are two methods for filing a Demand For Arbitration. A consumer may choose Filing Method A: "three times out", or Filing Method B: "30 days out-of-service". The defect or condition must be present as of the date of filing for a "three-times-out" claim. There is no requirement for a current condition for a "30 days out-of-service" claim because the defect is the repair history during the time out-of service. There are circumstances under which a Demand may be filed with fewer than three repair attempts or fewer than 30 days out-of-service as described below. Please review the other eligibility requirements prior to filing and enclose the requested supporting documentation, which must be received prior to the scheduling of a hearing.

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Are used motor vehicles covered under the lemon law?

Used vehicles are covered under the lemon law if the first repair occurred within the manufacturer's express warranty and other eligibility requirements have been met. A "new motor vehicle" means a passenger motor vehicle which is still under the manufacturer's express warranty. 9 V.S.A. Section 4173(9).

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What is the difference between a "3 times-out claim (Filing Method A)" and a "30 days out-of-service claim (Filing Method B)"?

3-Times-Out Claim (Filing Method A):

  • A Demand may be filed after the manufacturer/authorized dealer has had reasonable opportunities to repair a warranted defect(s). The lemon law presumes that three unsuccessful repair attempts meet this requirement. The first attempt must occur within the manufacturer's express warranty.
  • A consumer filing with fewer than three repair attempts must convince the Board that the manufacturer was allowed a reasonable opportunity to repair. This could be for a safety-related defect/condition, if the dealer/manufacturer presents the condition is characteristic and no repair is needed, or for other reasons.
  • The symptom of a claimed defect(s) must be present as of the date of filing.
  • Please review the eligibility requirements prior to filing and enclose the requested supporting documentation, which must be received prior to the scheduling of a hearing.

30 Days Out-Of-Service Claim (Filing Method B):

  • A Demand may be filed after a vehicle has been out-of-service for multiple days by reason of a reasonable number of repairs within the manufacturer's express warranty.
  • The lemon law presumes that a reasonable number of repairs have been made when the vehicle has been out-of-service for 30 calendar days.
  • A consumer may file with fewer than 30 days out-of-service but must demonstrate why the Board should accept fewer than 30 days as being reasonable.
  • "Out-of-service" is defined as the vehicle being unavailable for the consumer's use for a major portion of the day (4 hours or more) while being under the control of the manufacturer, its agent or authorized dealer.
  • The 30 days may be cumulative or consecutive.
  • Please review the eligibility requirements prior to filing and enclose the requested supporting documentation, which must be received prior to the scheduling of a hearing.

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How do I organize a repair history if I'm filing under "3-times-out"?

The Consumer's Repair Summary For A 3-Times-Out Claim will help you organize the repair history when filing under the "3 times out" provision.

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How do I organize a repair history if I'm filing under "30 days out-of-service"?

The Consumer's Repair Summary For A 30 Days Out-Of-Service Claim will help you organize the repair history when filing under the "30 days out-of-service" provision.

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Does a "30 days out-of-service" claim have to be 30 consecutive days?

No. A "30-day" claim may be with cumulative calendar days including weekends and holidays. The vehicle must be in control of the dealer for the major portion of a day (4 hours minimum). The dealer does not have to be working on the vehicle for this timeframe. The repairs must be performed within the manufacturer's express warranty.

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The vehicle is in the shop being fixed now. Can I file?

The symptom of the defect or condition must be present as of the date of filing for a "three times out" claim. There is no requirement for a current condition for a "30 days out-of-service" claim, because the defect is the repair history during the time out-of-service. The final repair by the manufacturer is initiated after you file.

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Does my situation fall under the lemon law? What are my chances of winning?

Review Filing Methods A and B and select the one that best addresses your vehicle's repair history. For a "three-times-out" claim you should be prepared to explain how the defect(s)/condition(s) substantially impairs any combination of the use, market value or safety of the vehicle as of the date of signing the Demand. For a "30 days out-of-service" claim you will explain why a reasonably prudent person would conclude from the repair history that the vehicle is a "lemon" due to substantial impairment of any combination of the vehicle's use, market value or safety.

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How do I file a Demand for Arbitration form?

The Demand For Arbitration form includes instructions for completion.

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What is the manufacturer's (zone office) mailing address?

An up-to-date listing of vehicle manufacturer mailing addresses, phone numbers, and fax numbers

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Is there a Demand for Arbitration completion and enclosures check-list?

Yes, you can download a Demand for Arbitration completion and enclosures check-list.

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My financial lender advises it will take 2-3 weeks to send me the total vehicle interest. How can I obtain it sooner?

Check with the financial institution to see whether the information is available on-line. If not, consider contacting a supervisor, explain why the interest is needed in a timelier manner and request it be faxed to you or the Board office.

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The manufacturer/dealer contacted me to bring the vehicle in for repair after filing. Will this jeopardize my case?

The final repair is a legal provision that provides an opportunity for the manufacturer to assess and repair the claimed defect(s) to your satisfaction. It must be completed five days prior to hearing or is waived. The consumer must present the vehicle to the specified dealer after reasonable notice. The final repair is applicable for 3-times out and 30-days out-of-service filing methods.

The repair should be completed timely to provide an opportunity for assessment. The Demand may be withdrawn if the repair is satisfactory. A hearing may be requested if the condition(s) recurs, and the vehicle is still covered by the manufacturer's express warranty.

You may continue to hearing even if the claimed condition appears to be fixed. Your reason(s) for dissatisfaction would then be considered by the Board.

Why should I have to bring my vehicle back for a final repair? I've already allowed the dealer "X' number of times to try and fix it.

The claim is with the manufacturer, not the dealer. The final repair is a legal provision that provides an opportunity for the manufacturer to assess and repair the claimed defect(s) to your satisfaction. The final repair is applicable for 3-times out and 30-days out-of-service filing methods.

You may withdraw from the arbitration process if the repair is acceptable and retain the option to request a hearing if the condition recurs as long as the vehicle is still within the manufacturer's express warranty. You may continue to hearing even if the claimed condition appears to be fixed. The Board would then weigh your reasons for dissatisfaction.

The Board may dismiss or continue the case if presentation of the vehicle for the final repair is refused by the consumer.

Can I still go to the hearing if the vehicle is repaired at the "final repair"?

The final repair is a legal provision that provides an opportunity for the manufacturer to assess and repair the claimed defect(s) to your satisfaction.

You may withdraw from the arbitration process if the repair is acceptable, but would retain the option to request a hearing if the condition recurs while the vehicle is still within the manufacturer's express warranty.

You may continue to hearing if the claimed condition appears to be fixed. The Board would weigh your reason(s) for dissatisfaction with the repair.

The manufacturer hasn't contacted me for a final repair. Should I call them?

It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to arrange the final repair appointment. The dealer often contacts the consumer per the manufacturer's request.

A manufacturer will occasionally elect not to pursue a final repair for various reasons. It is in their interest to initiate the appointment to present a current assessment of the claimed condition(s).

The dealer is trying to charge me for the final repair. Can they do that?

There should be no charge for the final repair if the claimed condition is within the manufacturer's express warranty.

The consumer is responsible for payment if the repair is performed after warranty expiration.

The manufacturer refuses to authorize repair of the vehicle under warranty and states the condition is not covered. What do I do?

Refer to the manufacturer's express warranty and review any exclusions that may be applicable.

The Board does not have authority to determine whether a repair should be covered by the manufacturer's express warranty.

You may consider contacting the Consumer Assistance Program in Burlington at 800-649-2424 (within Vermont only) or 802-656-3183 for assistance or requesting a consultation through the dealer with the manufacturer's district manager for review of the coverage denial.

Who are the Board Members?

Board composition is determined by statute. There are five members and three alternate members (one new car dealer and alternate, one active technician and alternate, and three members and one alternate who have no direct involvement with the sale or service of vehicles or their parts).

The Board members are appointed by the Governor for a three-year term. Each full member may be appointed for two additional three-year terms.

When will a hearing be held for my claim?

A hearing will be scheduled in Montpelier within 45 days of acceptance of a completed Demand for Arbitration with supporting documentation.

The hearings are usually held monthly.

A Notice of Hearing will be forwarded to the consumer and manufacturer within approximately two weeks of the hearing date with location directions.

The vehicle must be presented at the hearing site for a road test or inspection.

How should I prepare for the hearing?

A chronology of the vehicle's repair history for the claimed defect(s)/condition(s) will organize your presentation to the Board.

You should be prepared to explain how the claimed condition(s)/defect(s) substantially impairs the vehicle's use, market value or safety (any combination of these standards). For a 30-day out-of-service claim, the defect is the history within the timeframe.

Evidence, which must be filed with the Board and manufacturer by 3 days pre-hearing, in addition to repair orders occurring pre-filing could include:

  • A copy of the final repair order;
  • Proof of substantial impairment of the vehicle use, market value (vehicle history report, which is impacted by the reporting entities) or safety (such as a crash report or towing bills) as of the date of signing the Demand for either filing method;
  • Testimony of witnesses, which may be in-person or by an affidavit (statement with signature notarized). In-person is preferred so questions may be asked; and
  • Video CDs, still pictures and similar. A playback device must be provided at the hearing site for the applicable media.

The manufacturer's response form has items checked that are not accurate. What should I do?

The manufacturer's answer advises the defense the manufacturer will be presenting at the hearing. The answer should be filed with the Board office and consumer within five days prior to hearing.

Can the hearing be rescheduled?

A continuance must be made in writing with a justification and will be granted for good cause.

The manufacturer is offering a settlement to encourage withdrawal of the Demand for Arbitration. Is it okay to accept? How do I know whether they will follow through with the offer?

Settlement negotiations occur between the manufacturer and consumer. The Lemon Law Administrator will facilitate communication and respond to inquiries when applicable. A refund worksheet can be used to compare a settlement offer with a potential refund award. There is also a lease refund worksheet.

A manufacturer may offer an extended warranty or several vehicle payments as an incentive to withdraw the claim. If you settle this way and the claimed condition recurs, you may file a second Demand but would have to meet the same filing criteria as for the initial claim with applicable repair orders occurring after the settlement. At least one repair would have to occur within the express warranty.

Settlement terms should be in writing. The settlement document, with both parties' signatures, must be received by the Board office to withdraw from the arbitration process. The signed settlement document becomes a contract.

What does: “The manufacturer asserts no defense. The Board will make a decision pursuant to 9 V.S.A. Sections 4173( c )(1)(B) and 4174(d) without a hearing and notify both parties within 30 days after receipt of the Answer.” mean?

The manufacturer is not disputing the consumer’s claimed defect(s)/condition(s) made within the Demand for Arbitration. The Board will rule on the Demand without a hearing within 30 days after receipt of the Answer. Neither party appears before the Board.

When will I receive the Board's decision?

The Board's decision will be issued to the consumer and manufacturer within 30 days of a hearing, or within 30 days of the manufacturer asserting no defense within its Answer for which no hearing is held.

My vehicle exhibited the claimed condition(s) on the way home from the hearing. Can the Board be advised of this development?

No, the record closes when the hearing ends and the test-drive or inspection is completed. Supplemental information may not be added.

Criteria for submitting a request for reconsideration with new evidence, meaning evidence not available as of the date of the hearing despite due diligence, and circumstances under which a case may be appealed to a superior court are within the order transmittal letter.

My vehicle needs "_______". Can I still bring the vehicle in for repair before the order is issued?

Yes.

The manufacturer is allowed 30 days after receipt of the order to complete the transaction, if the decision is in favor of the consumer, unless a motion for reconsideration or appeal is initiated. A stay would be placed on the order, meaning the effective date of order compliance would be placed on hold.

What do I do after receiving a favorable Board order?

The manufacturer or dealer, on behalf of the manufacturer, will contact you to arrange the buyback or replacement transaction.

Refer to the order's transmittal letter that describes the criteria for a motion for reconsideration or appeal to a superior court. A stay (hold) will be put on the order if either party initiates one of these actions.

The manufacturer states I have to sign a general release of all claims before they will present me with the refund check. Do I have to sign it?

No. The only form you may be asked to sign is a power of attorney authorizing the manufacturer to access your financing account to pay the lien holder for release of the title.

The manufacturer has not contacted me to complete the refund/replacement transaction. What do I do?

An order becomes effective 30 days after the manufacturer receives it via facsimile. The order specifies the effective date. If today is past the effective date, you may be entitled to an additional 10% of your total award (not for a replacement vehicle) unless the delay was due to not making the vehicle available for the buyback or other similar reason. Both parties may agree on an order compliance date past the order's effective date due to an extraordinary circumstance after approval from the Board office.

What options are available if a claim for a refund or replacement vehicle is denied?

Refer to the order's transmittal letter that describes the criteria for a motion for reconsideration or appeal to a superior court. A stay (hold) will be put on the order if either party initiates one of these actions.

How is a vehicle refund calculated?

A vehicle refund award includes an adjustment for mileage from the first warranted repair attempt (Filing Method A - 3 times out) or from the first day out-of-service (Filing Method B - 30 days out-of-service) and will be made to the consumer and lien holder (if any). See a sample worksheet that itemizes other items which are reimbursable pursuant to Section 4172(e) of 9 V.S.A.

Does the award include the down-payment and trade-in value?

Yes. Items deducted from the vehicle's purchase price prior to applying the pro-rated formula include rebate, dealer discount or non-cash credit as from a credit card rebate.

Any down-payment and trade-in value are considered cash and are included in the vehicle's purchase price.

If a consumer has negative equity, which is an amount required to pay off any trade-in which is often financed, and there is an outstanding lien balance after the award is applied to lienholder, the consumer is responsible to pay the amount to obtain clear title.

How are the terms of a vehicle replacement transaction determined?

The consumer will be assessed any model year difference (MSRP cost of vehicle 1 to MSRP of replacement vehicle 2).

How much will I receive if I win with a leased vehicle?

Prorated refund awards for leased vehicles are calculated from Section 4172(i) of 9 V.S.A. View a sample worksheet for a lease refund award calculation.

How are the terms of a vehicle replacement transaction determined for a leased vehicle?

A lessee may elect to receive a replacement vehicle which would be a collateral exchange.

If a consumer elects a replacement vehicle and an acceptable replacement is not found, a lease refund will be processed.

Why did you accept this Demand as being eligible?

A Demand may be administratively dismissed after initial review of the claim when there is a technical issue as filing: 1) outside of the statute of limitations, 2) for a truck with an excess gross vehicle weight rating; 3) for a nonconformity with the warranty not present as of the date of filing for 3-times out claim and other jurisdictional reasons.

Demands proceed towards hearing unless there is a jurisdictional item not met. The manufacturer may submit a defense to the Board office and consumer with supporting documentation as to why a claim doesn't meet the filing criteria. If the issue is not a jurisdictional technicality, the case will proceed towards hearing.

We are unable to reach the consumer; or, the consumer is refusing the final repair. What do we do?

An e-mail, overnight courier letter or a certified return-receipt letter with a specific date or date options for the final repair could be sent to the consumer.

If the consumer refuses to present the vehicle for repair, indicate such on the answer form and forward to the Board office and consumer.

It is the manufacturer's responsibility to contact the consumer.

Our representative isn't available for the hearing. Can we have a continuance?

A request for a continuance must be provided in writing with a justification. It will be granted only for good cause.

(Dealer) Our supply of Demand forms is almost out. Will you send us X # of forms?

It is the manufacturer's responsibility to supply the Demand forms, pre-addressed stamped envelopes and Notice to Consumer to their zone offices and ensure each consumer receives the material at vehicle delivery.

The consumer's award does not clear the vehicle lien payoff for a purchased vehicle. What do we do?

The consumer is responsible for obtaining clear title and must pay the balance. This could occur if mileage at the first repair was high or if the consumer financed negative equity.

The award and monies for a lessee consumer and lessor do not cover the lease balance. What do we do?

The lease formula provides the lessor with a 10% addition of the lessor's purchase price of the vehicle to accommodate for no termination fee. The lessee is not responsible for any outstanding balance. The formula is binding on the lessor assignee.

What can I do if the vehicle was purchased outside of the manufacturer's warranty?

Contact AUTOCAP (Automotive Consumer Action Program) via the Consumer Assistance Program in Burlington at 800-649-2424 (from within Vermont only) or 802-656-3183 for vehicles purchased outside of the manufacturer's express warranty or for vehicle issues not covered by the lemon law.

I have a vehicle problem from a private sale. What are my rights?

Consider filing a claim in a small claims court. Contact the court in your county for procedural information.

I signed a contract yesterday to purchase a new car. Now that I’ve thought about it, I realize I can’t really afford it. Can I cancel the contract?

"In Vermont, there is no time period during which you can change your mind and cancel a vehicle purchase contract. Any right to cancel the contract must be specified in the purchase agreement you sign with the seller. Unless there is such a term, the dealer may be able to enforce the contract. Be sure that you intend to keep the vehicle you are considering before you sign any paperwork on the vehicle. Be prepared to walk away from the deal if a salesperson is pressuring you to sign any document before you are ready to commit.

For more information on your right to cancel, contact the Consumer Assistance Program"

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Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles
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Montpelier, VT 05603-0001

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