The lemon law states that a vehicle that does not operate correctly and the manufacturer (or an authorized agent of that manufacturer) cannot repair the vehicle within a certain amount of time, you are entitled to a replacement or a refund.
In South Carolina, only vehicles that are designed to transport ten or fewer people are covered. The law also covers trucks that weigh less than 9,000 pounds when they are empty. This law pertains only to new vehicles, not used or previously leased vehicles.
Business vehicles are not covered by the Lemon Law. But what is a business vehicle? Obviously, a tractor trailer rig or a piece of farm equipment are business vehicles and not covered. On the other hand, a vehicle can be owned by a business but still be covered by the Lemon Law. The issue comes down to whether the motor vehicle is normally used for personal, family, or household purposes and subject to the manufacturer's express warranty.
As the business owner, you also need to be very careful about how your vehicles are driven. If the mechanical problem is caused by abuse or neglect of maintenance guidelines, your lemon law rights may be affected. Also, if you plan to alter your car in any way, such as adding a trailer hitch or roof racks, you should have an authorized dealer install the items. If the alterations are not approved or installed by the dealer, the manufacturer can claim those alterations caused the mechanical problems, and you will have a harder time proving your car is a lemon.
Just remember, the more you use the vehicle in your business, the more ammunition you give the manufacturer’s lawyer to claim that the vehicle does not qualify under the lemon law.
If you have problems with a vehicle, start documenting everything that is done to repair it from the very first trip to an authorized mechanic. Keep all paperwork and notes of any discussions you may have with the dealership. You will need to notify the manufacturer of the problems within the time frame, and be sure to have copies of any documents you send to anyone. You should also document lost wages for when you were unable to use your vehicle for your business.
After three attempts to repair the vehicle, it may be in your best interest to hire an attorney who has experience with the lemon laws of your state. Your lawyer can advise you of the next steps you need to take to receive a refund or a replacement on your vehicle.