Alabama Lemon Law – What are the Laws on Defective Vehicles in Alabama?

Alabama lemon laws only cover self-propelled vehicles intended for personal use and operation on public highways. What does this mean and does it cover motor homes? Find out below.

A stylized image of Alabama and Lemon Laws regarding Cars

Quick take:

  • Alabama lemon laws only cover vehicles below 10,000 pounds.
  • Recreational vehicles, motorhomes and vehicles above that weight limit are protected under Magnuson Moss warranty act (Federal law).
  • If all reasonable attempts made by the manufacturer to repair the vehicle fail, the law requires the manufacturer to replace the vehicle.
  • Alabama lemon laws do not cover used vehicles, except for within one year or 12,000 miles of operation (From the time the vehicle was originally purchased.  
  • Used vehicle owners may sue dealers for false advertising.
  • AS IS  -is a protection for used car vendors.

Is there a lemon law for used cars in Alabama?

Yes. Title 8 -commercial law and Consumer Protection chapter 20A- Motor vehicle Lemon Law Rights -is Alabama’s lemon law. Under the statute, lemon law rights end one year after the date of the original delivery of a vehicle or for the first twelve thousand miles of operation (whichever first occurs).

Section 8-20A-2 of the statute lays out the obligations of the manufacturer. Under it, manufacturers are legally obliged to:

  • Repair any motor vehicle that does not conform to any applicable express warranty. However, the consumer must deliver the vehicle to the manufacturer within the period specified above. Notifying the manufacturer, agent, or dealer before the grace period expires obliges the manufacturer to repair the vehicle after the grace period has expired. Note, the manufacturer’s obligation does not extend beyond twenty-four months or twenty-four thousand miles.
  • If all-reasonable attempts made by the manufacturer, agent, or dealer to repair the vehicle fail. Section B requires the manufacturer to replace the vehicle with a comparable vehicle or refund the following to the consumer. (1) full contract price. (2) all collateral charges. (3) any incidental damages (for the period the consumer could not use the vehicle).

Note that the law presumes that the consumer allowed reasonable attempts to make repairs to the vehicle. So, it is in your best interest to surrender the vehicle to the agent, dealer, or manufacturer when required.

What if you suffer an injury while operating a lemon?

Section 8-20a-3 “Course of Action Against Manufacturer,” says that it is within your rights to take civil action for injuries or property damage caused by the manufacturer’s failure to perform its obligation to the consumer.

We recommend consulting with a lemon lawyer if you choose this course of action.

To commence legal action. The statute requires the consumer to give notice of Non-Conforming Condition via Certified United States mail. A nonconforming condition as defined by section 8-220A-1 is, quote

 “Any condition of a motor vehicle which shall not be in conformity with the terms of any express warranty issued by the manufacturer to a consumer.”

The conditions must:

  • Significantly impair the value, safety, or use of a vehicle.
  • Arise solely in the course of the ordinary use of the vehicle, not due to neglect, abuse, modification, or alteration.
Don’t Forget!

Notice of nonconforming condition is a written statement that describes the condition of the vehicle and all attempts made to correct the condition. It lists all the firms, corporations, or persons who attempted to make the repairs. It can be challenging to draft, so we recommend working with a lawyer or using a suitable template.

What if the manufacturer breached its obligations?

Section 8-20A-2 says that the consumer is entitled to recover additional damages and an award for reasonable attorney fees.

What about the dealer?

Section 8-20A-5 Says that nothing in the chapter imposes liability on the dealer, so you may only take civil action against the manufacturer. It is also worth noting that the manufacturer cannot chargeback or require reimbursement from an authorized dealer.

What is the statute of limitations in Alabama’s lemon laws?

Section 8-20A-6, reads, quote “Any action brought under this chapter against the manufacturer shall be commenced within three years following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to the consumer.”

How does a car qualify for lemon law in Alabama?

Note that Alabama lemon laws do not cover vehicles that have a weight rating above ten-thousand-pounds. What that means is to qualify, as mentioned, the vehicle must be for personal and household use and intended for operation on public highways. To be specific, the law does not cover consumers whose intended use for the vehicle is commercial. ‘

Is there a lemon law on used cars in Alabama?

Alabama Lemon Law covers used vehicles, but only if the break down happens within the first year of the customers possession OR under 12,000 miles of use, whichever happens first. Unfortunately for used vehicle owners the typical used vehicle is sold after these conditions have passed, so the Lemon Law isn’t much use for used vehicles.

Additionally, Alabama is a ‘Buyer Beware State’.

In buyer beware states, it is the obligation of the seller to determine the condition of a vehicle before sale. Furthermore, the law allows you to take the car for inspection before sale. What that means is before you commit any money, it is within your rights to hire a mechanic to verify the condition of the car.

Look out for the “AS IS” is sign

As-Is translates to buyer beware, meaning, if you commit money to the vehicle, the seller has no obligation to repair it.

The point being, inspect the car before purchase or before you sign any contract.

Alabama lemon laws and unfair and deceptive trade practices

Some dealers and manufacturers employ deceptive practices when selling vehicles, for example, some may reset the odometer to reduce vehicle mileage and others may sell a used vehicle as new. If you are a victim of unfair trade practices, this is what you need to know.

Under section 8-20-4 “unfair and deceptive practices” (ADTPA) it is unlawful to:

  • Disconnect, turn back, or reset the odometer with the intent to deceive a consumer.
  • Sell counterfeit parts or sell of goods as those of another.
  • False advertisement.
  •  Sell used vehicles as new

ADTPA also states that it is unlawful to lie about warranty or guarantee, make misleading statements about price reduction, and advertise goods with no intention of selling the item as advertised (false advertisement).

What can you do if you fall victim to unfair trade practices?

You will need the services of a litigation lawyer to find out the best course of action suitable for your situation.

That said. The next question is, what can you do if you fall victim to false advertising?

Can I sue a dealer for false advertising?

Yes. It is within your rights to sue a dealer for false advertising. But there are a few elements you should know.

One. You need proof of the advertised terms. Two, you need evidence that you bought the falsely advertised vehicle or other items.

Proof of the advertised terms

To take civil action against a dealer or manufacturer, you will need proof of the terms and conditions of the sale. You may print out a copy -be it oral, visual, or video -from the internet, advertisement, or wherever you got the information.

Expert tip: Read the terms and conditions of sale because if there is a disclaimer or clarification, it may weaken your position.

When you purchase a vehicle, always make sure that there is proof of exchange even if you pay in cash. The documents you will need include, title of transfer, proof of Alabama auto insurance, your driver’s license, proof of residency, payment fees, and applicable taxes.

It is also good practice to record the odometer reading, sale price, date of purchase, and vehicle Identification Number. The point is, avoid any illegalities during the purchase process.

Remember, if everything is done above board and you did not get the vehicle that was advertised, you may sue the dealer for false advertisement.

What to remember

  • If the manufacturer fails to correct a defect through reasonable effort, the law requires the maker to replace the vehicle with a comparable vehicle.
  • You may sue car dealers for false advertising or deceptive trade practices.
  • Sold “As Is” is a protection for the seller that reduces liability.

Does Alabama lemon law cover recreational vehicles and motorhomes?

No. Alabama lemon laws do not cover recreational vehicles and motor homes.

What are your options?

If you purchased a motorhome or recreational vehicle, your rights are protected under the Magnuson Moss warranty act, which is a federal law passed in 1975. Under the act, manufacturers cannot void your car or vehicle’s warranty for the installation of after-market parts. Apart from that, the act also:

  • Requires warrantors to provide consumers with detailed information about warranty.
  • Allows consumers with defective vehicles to initiate a legal claim

If you are stuck with a defective vehicle, be it a commercial vehicle or one aimed at private use. The best course of action is to consult with a lemon law attorney before the statute of limitations runs out. Meaning, if you wait too long, you may have to make repairs or replace the vehicle out of pocket.

Alabama Lemon Law Overview

Alabama’s lemon laws state that if the buyer of a vehicle finds a major fault in it – which is labeled as non – conformable after four valid attempts by the vehicle manufacturer to repair it – the manufacturer is liable to repurchase or replace the faulty vehicle. This law applies to the vehicle throughout its warranty period, and if the vehicle is still under its warranty period and meets the eligibility criteria as specified by Alabama’s state laws, the owner of the vehicle can claim their arbitrary aid and request an arbiter to look into the matter and provide them with the necessary reimbursement, in the form of a refund or replacement of the faulty vehicle. The repurchase costs will also cover any additional costs the owner underwent while purchasing the vehicle. This law, however, is not active in case of leased vehicles, as the primary focus of this law are vehicles which are meant to be used on highways.

Nonconforming Conditions of Lemon Law in Alabama

Alabama has a set of guidelines for which vehicles fit its idea of ‘nonconforming conditions’. The vehicle must be impaired to a degree where the damage done to it renders it as unusable and of significantly less value, while also being a threat to the owners safety. This damage must also have been done to the vehicle when it is being used normally, and must not occur as a result of the owner’s neglect or abuse to the vehicle, or any modifications done to it without the involvement or knowledge of the manufacturer. The laws are also applicable to a vehicle which has been brought to its nonconforming state due to an accident. Prior to filing for a lemon, the vehicle needs to have at least three attempts at repairing the fault by the manufacturer. If the manufacturer fails to restore the vehicle to its original state within these three attempts, the owner may then seek for arbitrary aid. 

Alabama Lemon Law Repairs

Alabama’s lemon laws encourage the dispute to be settled informally by the vehicle owner and the manufacturer, i.e. through arbitration, by giving the manufacturers considerable attempts to repair the vehicle. The owner must firstly submit a mail to the manufacturer regarding the vehicle’s nonconforming conditions and allow them to have three reasonable attempts at repairing it. The manufacturer must respond to the owner’s complaint within 7 days, after which the vehicle’s faults need to be solved within 14 days of the vehicle’s delivery by the owner. If the fault remains unresolved, or if the car remains out of service for over 30 consecutive or nonconsecutive days, the owner then may file for an arbitrary aid.

Alabama Lemon Law Arbitration

In the case being opened by an arbiter, citizens of Alabama are free to have an attorney represent them at the court, and the attorney’s fees will be paid by the manufacturer. The manufacturer may then be given an additional attempt to repair the fault. If still unsuccessful, the owner may then either choose to have the vehicle repurchased, or get refunded for it. If the vehicle is repurchased, the amount paid to the owner should be equal to the amount paid by them whilst purchasing it, including any additional costs such as vehicle towing, which the customer was charged for by the manufacturer. A replaced vehicle should be comparable to the vehicle initially purchased by the customer.


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