The Rhode Island Lemon Law applies to new cars, vans, motorcycles or trucks less than 10,000 lbs that were purchased, leased and registered in Rhode Island that have a defect or condition that has not yet been fixed after 4 attempts by the manufacturer. It may also apply if the vehicle has been in the shop for more than 30 days during the first year.
The problem must impair the vehicle's use, value or safety and must be reported within the first 12 months or 15,000 miles whichever comes first. If your vehicle falls outside such guidelines, you can check what federal warranty laws may apply.
In order for the lemon law to apply in your situation, you have to give the manufacture some time to try and fix the problem. If they are unable to fix it after 3 attempts, you can already write them a formal notice stating that if this matter is not resolved, you have no other recourse but to demand for a refund or replacement. The manufacturer has 7 days to comply with this or face arbitration.
If nothing still happens, a hearing will be scheduled and a panel of experts will be called in to review your case. During the hearing, you will have to present documents that show you gave the manufacturer ample time to repair the problem. This law also applies to leased vehicles.
When the ruling is made in favor of the customer, you can choose whether to get a refund or have this replaced. Just remember that the manufacturer may appeal that ruling just like you if it did not go your way.
Should this happen, you can take this matter to court hoping that a judge will look favorable on your situation. If you win, you don't have to worry paying for legal fees because under the law, the manufacturer is required to shoulder it.
It will take some time to find a lawyer that will handle your case. You can get help from the office of the Attorney General or look online to find someone who specializes in these matters. So you know that this person will be able to devote their time and effort, ask them some questions like what is their workload, how often have they done this and the length of time it will take before a decision is made.
If you think that the fees that the lawyer will be charging are way beyond your budget, don't worry because if the judge sees that your car is indeed a lemon, the manufacturer will be instructed to pay for the legal fees.
The Rhode Island lemon law only applies to new cars so if you can't argue this if you are driving an old car. Will you be able to tell at once if your car is a lemon? The answer is no because this is something you will know in time when you are already behind the wheel and get the chance to drive it.
If a problem appears, take note of it and keep track if it happens again. Remember, one instance is not enough to tell you that your car is a lemon. By law, there has to be four repair attempts to try before you can exercise your right to get a refund or a replacement.