Owning a car can be a money pit, but when life gives you lemons, what do you do? Make lemonade of course.
The new Lemon Law, formally named Law 29, is the first of its kind in Canada. Joining Québec’s already extensive Consumer Protection Act, the law will hold manufacturers responsible for vehicles with persistent issues, and defects commonly referred to as ‘lemons’.
As of October 2023, residents of Québec with newly purchased vehicles can seek legal recourse if they experience three unsuccessful repair attempts within the first three years or 60,000 kilometers; whichever occurs first. Recourse in this case refers to the cancellation of the sale, a price reduction on the vehicle (in case of financing), or the manufacturer repurchasing the vehicle.
Let’s take a closer look at how this will put Quebec consumers at an advantage.
How Will Quebec’s Lemon Law Help Benefit Consumers?
The Lemon Law also includes appliances and electronic devices advertised in Quebec. If you’ve ever wondered why your car, washing machine, or vacuum seems to constantly be breaking down, there’s a chance it’s because manufacturers deliberately designed the product to limit its lifespan and/or functionality. Often referred to as planned obsolescence.
This is where the Lemon Law steps in, by ensuring consumers are not overspending on repairing. Or, repurchasing products that should otherwise be ‘repairable’.
Eligibility Requirements For Recourse
Within the automotive industry, the Lemon Law protects consumers by shifting the financial burden of a defective vehicle from the consumer onto the manufacturer.
Here are the steps and provisions to receive compensation, reduced price, or resale:
Lemon Law Recourse: Base Warranties
Most new (and some used) cars are covered under a warranty. To qualify for recourse under the Lemon Law for a new vehicle with an existing warranty, you must have documentation indicating that you have attempted to or have sought repairs and that the issue persists.
Conditions which meet the Lemon Law recourse eligibility are in the case that
- Your vehicle has the SAME defect which the dealer/manufacturer has unsuccessfully attempted to repair three times within three years, under the base warranty.
- Your vehicle has several UNRELATED defects and you have sought the help of a dealer/manufacturer. And resulted in 12 unsuccessful repair attempts within three years, under the base warranty.
Lemon Law Recourse: Limited Use Of Vehicle
In the case that your vehicle needs to be kept for 30 days or more by the dealer to fix an issue or defect, you are also eligible for recourse. The eligibility criteria for recourse include vehicles that are plagued by issues that substantially limit their functionality or are unsuitable for use altogether.
This case will require the dealer to provide a temporary vehicle for you to use.
Lemon Law Recourse: Leasing A Vehicle
The Lemon Law also includes a by-law for leased vehicles. For example, consumers are granted the privilege of a complimentary pre-lease inspection. This is intended to identify any atypical wear and tear on the vehicle.
If a dealership does not provide a free pre-lease inspection, then they cease the right to charge fees related to any future repairs that may occur.
If a free inspection was provided, and issues with the vehicle came up later on. Then repair services must be affordable. And, the consumer holds the right to seek repair services from a mechanic of their choosing.
Several other by-laws will eventually come into effect and continue to expand the Lemon Law.
If you are leasing a vehicle for a certain period, let’s say a 6-month lease. Then 30-60 days before the date which you return the vehicle, you are entitled to a free vehicle inspection. This is to ensure that in case an issue is detected, you have time to seek a repair from a third-party mechanic without incurring damage fees upon returning the vehicle. This portion of the law will begin in April of 2024.
Used Vehicles And Consumer Protection Under The Lemon Law
Under the by-laws, owners of used vehicles in Québec will be granted extended warranty and coverage. The extended warranty will come into effect on April 5th, 2024, and will double the current standard coverage available.
How Will The Lemon Law Affect Dealerships In Québec?
Quebec’s Lemon Law declares that the presence of a concealed defect automatically classifies a car as a seriously defective vehicle. Also known as “véhicules gravement défectueux” (VDG)). According to George Iny of the APA, this means that manufacturers will have to prove the vehicle does not come with intentional defects.
Once a car is labeled a lemon and given the “Véhicules gravement défectueux” status, this designation will stay with the vehicle throughout its lifespan.
Dealers and manufacturers that do not follow the guidelines under the new Lemon Law, will face penalties and administrative consequences. Negligence also includes the failure to disclose a vehicle’s defectiveness in their advertisements, during a sale, to another buyer, to another merchant, or even to an auto recycler. As of now, the Quebec government has not discussed the creation of a registry for listing “VGD” cars.
What Does A Car Dealer Have To Disclose?
Car dealerships in Québec have a responsibility to inform potential buyers about any mechanical or damage issues. Under the Lemon Law, dealers and car manufacturers are obliged to disclose any issues and/or defects with a vehicle. Plus, dealers are now obligated to provide you with a full report of the car. This report must be in an accessible and easy-to-understand form, for your benefit.
What Do I Do If My Car Is A Lemon?
When you’re facing issues regarding your new vehicle, start by reviewing your warranty. New vehicles are covered by warranties, under which any costs related to defect repairs may be covered by the manufacturer. Don’t know what defect is covered by your warranty? Then contact the dealership where you purchased your vehicle.
If you suspect that your vehicle was misrepresented at the point of sale and you suspect issues were withheld from you, then you may contact your Provincial Consumer Affairs Office. If you can not resolve your complaint and defect(s) with your dealership, then your best bet is to contact a small claims court.
Putting Your Case Together When Seeking Recourse
If you believe your car is a lemon and your dealership will not cooperate with you, then contact the Consumer Protection Agency and request legal assistance. The Consumer Protection Agency is the legal body responsible for handling your complaint. In addition, they will help with the organizing of the terms and outcome of the recourse.
For more information on the Consumer Protection Act and your rights in Quebec, please consult Légis Québec.