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How You Can Use the Hawaii Lemon Law to Get Rid of Your Lemon Motor Vehicle

First you have to understand the Hawaii Lemon Law and what it covers - then you have to know how to use it. This AVVO How-To guide can help you get rid of your lemon motor vehicle in Hawaii.

Step 1: What can the Hawaii Lemon Law do for me if I have a lemon vehicle?

If you�ve got a lemon, it can make the manufacturer replace or buy it back if your vehicle had a defect that substantially impaired the use or value or safety of the vehicle and that was not, or could not, be fixed in a timely manner.

Step 2: What kind of vehicles are covered by the Hawaii Lemon Law?

Normal cars and trucks and motorcycles and other vehicles that are used for consumer-type purposes such as personal or family or household use. Rv�s and motorhomes are covered up to 10,000 lbs gross vehicle weight. But mopeds and scooters are not covered by the Hawaii Lemon Law, although they are covered by the federal Lemon Law (the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act).

Step 3: Is a used vehicle covered by the Lemon Law?

Only if you acquired the vehicle within two years or within the first 24,000 miles after it was originally sold to the first consumer.

Step 4: How do I know if I have a lemon?

The manufacturer's dealer is only allowed a limited number of chances to repair defects in your vehicle. If one or more of the following circumstances occurs within the first two years or 24,000 miles of operation, then the manufacturer (through its repairing dealer) is automatically presumed to have made a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle, and you've got a lemon. A lemon motor vehicle in Hawaii is one where: the same defect has been worked on 3+ times and did not get fixed, or it's been out of service for a total of 30+ business days, or there has been at least one attempt to fix a dangerous defect and it didn't get fixed on the first try. You only have to fit one of the three possible presumption definitions. The federal Lemon Law also requires the dealer to fix any defect at all within a reasonable number of attempts and also within a reasonable amount of time too.

Step 5: I think I have a lemon, so what do I do now?

Start negotiating. Contact the manufacturer directly. Write a short and simple letter, an email, send a fax, make a phone call. And send copies to the dealer too. Your letter should just say you think you have a lemon, it�s their fault, and tell them what you want (a new vehicle or your money back, etc). If the problem has not been fixed and you meet any one (or more) of the definitions of a lemon vehicle, then ask them to replace it or buy it back. You get your choice. Make notes of everything that you say to them and they say to you, so you have a record in case you need it later. If they don't resolve it satisfactory to you, then you may want to complain to the Hawaii Director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs or contact a private attorney.

Step 6: The manufacturer wants to charge me for my mileage (a "usage fee"), do I have to do that?

Yes, but the amount is negotiable. In Hawaii the only deduction allowed is for vehicle damage you cause or the reasonable value of your mileage, but it is all negotiable so you can expect they may ask you to do that in order to get a quicker settlement. It's up to you to decide how much you are willing to do.

Step 7: Should I file for arbitration? What if I don't want to?

Most car and truck manufacturers have a settlement process that is sometimes called "arbitration" and you can use their process if you want and you don't have to hire a lawyer to do it, but you may. If you don't want to go through the factory's "dispute resolution process" (that's also what they sometimes call it) you don't have to but you should talk to an experienced Lemon Law attorney about the advantages and disadvantages of it. If you aren't satisfied with the offer the manufacturer makes, or with the result of the arbitration (if you try it), then you should discuss your case with a Lemon Law attorney and find out just how strong your case may be. But act quick before you lose your Lemon Law rights.

Step 8: Do I have to hire a lawyer?

No, but you probably would do better if you did. There have been some studies done and they all come back the same way: you get paid more when you have a lawyer on your side. Why? You have to realize that when you try to negotiate with a manufacturer you will be dealing with professional negotiators who are paid to settle with you for as little as they can (and they are hoping it will be nothing at all if they can get away with it). This isn't going to be easy for you. They often tell you what they think the law is and why your case doesn't fit it - and if you don't know the law then you probably don't know how to argue back with them. So how do you get ready for a lawyer? First decide what it is that you want and what the minimum is that you will settle for. Next, get all your paperwork together and write out a diary of everything that happened from beginning to end and then talk with your Hawaii Lemon Law attorney.

Step 9: How can I find free info about the Hawaii Lemon Law?

For online information go to for more information or legal help.

Step 10: What happens next?

Your lemon law lawyer will decide whether to file a lawsuit or attempt to negotiate "pre-suit" (which means without filing a lawsuit). If they don't make an offer that you can live with then you can expect that a lawsuit will likely be necessary. Your lemon law attorney can discuss the court process with you in detail and tell you how long it may take and what you can expect out of it. Most importantly, you should discuss with your attorney things like your continued use of the vehicle, what to do if more defects arise, the desirability of hiring an independent expert witness, and what you can do to help win you case.

The Hawaii Lemon Law can help you get rid of your lemon vehicle but you should work with your lemon law attorney closely to get the best result. Here are some more resources you can turn to for more information, answers, and help.

Additional Links:

Vehicle Manufacturer's phone and fax numbers list

Recalls and Repair Bulletins: find out what the federal government knows about your vehicle that you don't by clicking here

What's your car worth right now? Click here for "book" values

Click here for Free online form to organize your repair records

Find out about secret manufacturer warranties they don't tell you about by clicking here

Free Lemon Law Complaint Letter "Generator" to use

Please complete the form to request a FREE Case Review and Consultation.


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