Ga. updates 'Lemon Law'

Sun, 01/25/2009 - 12:18pm
By: The Citizen

Expands protections for consumers and small businesses

ATLANTA, GA – Georgia consumers who buy or lease a new car after Jan. 1, 2009 will have greater protections against recurring problems with their vehicle, thanks to an update of the Georgia Lemon Law. The revised law offers broader protections, a more streamlined process and is more consumer-friendly.

“Other than a house, a new car is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make in your lifetime,” says Joe Doyle, Administrator of The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs, the agency which administers the Lemon Law. “Our agency is adamant about helping protect this major investment on behalf of Georgia consumers.”

One of the main improvements of the revised law is that the Lemon Law Rights period has doubled from 12 months/12,000 miles to 24 months/24,000 miles, which is great news to consumers whose vehicle problems don’t emerge until the second year of ownership.

In addition, the maximum gross vehicle weight rating requirements have increased from 10,000 pounds to 12,000 pounds, extending coverage to bigger trucks such as most versions of the Ford F350, Dodge Ram 3500, Chevrolet Silverado 3500 and GMC Sierra 3500.

What’s more, the revised Lemon Law has broadened its scope to include more small businesses.

“The current economic crisis has been particularly tough on small businesses,” says Mr. Doyle. “The new Lemon Law will provide many of these businesses with protections that could save them thousands of dollars in vehicle repair or replacement costs”.

What is the Lemon Law?

Georgia’s Lemon Law protects consumers and small businesses that purchase, register or lease a new motor vehicle in the state of Georgia against recurring defects.

The law was designed first and foremost to help consumers get their defective vehicle repaired. If the manufacturer fails to repair a recurring problem after a reasonable number of attempts and the consumer and vehicle meet certain eligibility requirements, he may apply for an arbitration hearing.

An arbitrator hears complaints and decides whether or not the consumer is entitled to a replacement vehicle or a refund. It is not necessary to hire an attorney for this procedure, but consumers are free to do so if they wish.

The Lemon Law is a self-help process that calls for the consumer to follow certain steps, which are described in detail on the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs website. To review these steps or for additional information about Georgia’s Lemon Law, go to:

How has the Lemon Law been revised?

Below is a summary of the key changes to the Lemon Law:

Old Lemon Law versus New Lemon Law

Old: Pertains to new vehicles purchased or leased on or before December 31, 2008.

New: Pertains to new vehicles purchased or leased on or after January 1, 2009.

Coverage Period

Old: 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.

New: 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Small Business Eligibility

Old: Businesses that own or lease three or fewer new motor vehicles and which have ten or fewer employees and a net income of $100,000 or less per year.

New: Businesses* that purchase or lease ten or fewer new motor vehicles a year. The number of employees and net income are no longer factors.

*Note that business cannot be a limo service.

Vehicle Weight

Old: Covers vehicles less than 10,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating.

New: Covers vehicles up to 12,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating.

Serious Safety Defects

Old: Manufacturer must be given two attempts to repair serious safety defects other than brakes or steering

New: Manufacturer is allowed one attempt to repair any serious safety defect.

Final Repair Attempt

Old: After you have made the number of repairs required, you must allow the manufacturer an opportunity to make a final attempt at repair.

New: Eliminates this requirement if the vehicle has been in the shop for repair for 30 days or more.

To read the revised Lemon Law statute in full go to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs’ website at, click on “About OCA”, then click on “Statutes We Enforce.”


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