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This provision defines the time period when the required number of repair attempts or days out of service must occur to invoke the presumption that a vehicle is a lemon. It is important to note that the duty to refund or replace continues at least through the express warranty and is not limited to the length of the presumption period in almost all states. Kentucky has the worst provision of all the states in limiting both the presumption and the refund/replace period to the earlier of 12 months or 12,000 miles.
Some states extend the period if one of the repair attempts occurred during the original period stated – e.g., Alabama extends its presumption period to 24 months/24,000 miles if one repair attempt or one day out of service occurred within the first 12 months/12,000 miles. A common lemon period is 24 months and various miles with 13 states having 24 months/24,000 miles, 4 with 24 months/18,000 miles and 2 with 24 months/unlimited miles. Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania are the worst in only providing a lemon presumption through the earlier of 12 months/12,000 miles. Since the average new vehicle travels 15,000 miles during the first year of use, lemon protection in these states runs out after 9 months.
The best states are New Hampshire and Vermont which provide that the lemon law protection period is the length of the express warranty which is typically 3 years/36,000 miles. South Carolina also provides the lemon law protection period is the length of the express warranty but requires the non-conformity to first appear during the earlier of 12 months/12,000 miles. The following is Vermont’s provision.
Vermont Statutes Annotated, Title 9
4172 Enforcement Of Warranties.
(a) Every new motor vehicle as defined in section 4171 of this title sold in this state must conform to all applicable warranties.
(g) It shall be presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform a motor vehicle to the applicable warranties if:
(1) the same nonconformity as identified in any written examination or repair order has been subject to repair at least three times by the manufacturer, its agent or authorized dealer and at least the first repair attempt occurs within the express warranty term and the same nonconformity continues to exist, or
(2) the vehicle is out of service by reason of repair of one or more nonconformities, defects or conditions for a cumulative total of 30 or more calendar days during the term of the express warranty. The term of any warranty and the 30-day period shall be extended by any period of time during which repair services were not available to the consumer because of war, invasion, strike, fire, flood or other natural disaster. If an extension of time is necessitated due to these conditions, the manufacturer shall cause provision for the free use of a vehicle to the consumer whose vehicle is out of service. A vehicle shall not be deemed out of service if it is available to the consumer for a major part of the day.