MD Lemon Law Statutes

Maryland Lemon Law Qualifications

Maryland's Lemon Law applies to new or leased motor vehicles (including cars, light trucks and motorcycles), registered in Maryland, that are less than 24 months old and have been driven less than 18,000 miles. The law provides for consumers whose cars meet certain criteria to receive a refund or a replacement vehicle if repair attempts have failed to correct a problem, and the problem substantially impairs the use and market value of the vehicle.

Not all new cars with problems qualify as lemons, but if yours does, you must take action quickly to receive relief under the law.

Is Your Vehicle A Lemon?

Maryland's lemon law applies only to cars, light trucks and motorcycles that:

  • Are registered in Maryland, and
  • Have been driven less than 18,000 miles and been owned less than 24 months.
  • (Even if you are not the original owner, the Lemon Law might apply to your vehicle if the original owner purchased it less than 18 months ago.)

The law provides that a dealer or manufacturer must correct a defect within 30 days after the consumer writes to the manufacturer by certified mail. If the manufacturer or dealer is unable to do so, the consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle under the Lemon Law if the car has:

  • A brake or steering failure that was not corrected after the first repair attempt, and that causes the vehicle to fail Maryland's safety inspection; or
  • Any one problem that substantially impairs the use and market value of the vehicle that was not corrected in four repair attempts; or
  • Any number of problems that substantially impair the use and market value of the vehicle that have caused it to be out of service for a cumulative total of 30 or more days.

If you suspect your car is a lemon -- for example, if the dealer has tried once or twice unsuccessfully to repair the problem and you believe the problem substantially impairs the use and market value of the vehicle -- you should write to the manufacturer immediately. You do not need to wait until the dealer has made the four repair attempts, or until the car has been out of service for 30 days.

Maryland Arbitration Requirements

All car manufacturers offer some form of complaint resolution procedure. If the manufacturer will not agree to repurchase or replace your car, it may offer to submit your dispute to arbitration. This is an optional procedure; whether or not you use it is your choice. The decision of the arbitrator is binding only on the manufacturer, not the consumer. If you are not satisfied with the arbitrator's decision, you may still file a lawsuit against the manufacturer and take your case to court.

If you plan to submit your complaint to arbitration, here are some steps you should take to prepare:

  • Arrange your records in chronological order. Prepare a brief outline summarizing the events. Submit copies of records about your car's problem and a copy of your warranty along with an arbitration application.
  • Ask the arbitration program representative to send you copies of all materials submitted in advance by the manufacturer so you can anticipate and respond to its arguments.
  • You may want to have an independent automotive expert examine your car. You can submit a written report of the expert's findings to the arbitrator. You will have to pay for the expert, but the report might help you make your case. You can ask the arbitrator to reimburse your expenses in obtaining the report, although you cannot be assured you will be compensated for this expense even if you prevail in the arbitration.
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