Lemon Law in Wisconsin

Oh no! I've bought a lemon car! What do I do?

learn about wisconsin lemon laws
If you've determined you have a lemon car, here are the steps you must follow in order to take care of it:

  1. Keep EVERY piece of paper, receipt, invoice, etc. from every time you take your car in for service. Even if you don't think it's related to your defect, keep it on the chance that it helps your case later.
  2. DON'T keep them in the car! (you'd be surprised...)
  3. Download the Motor Vehicle Lemon Law Notice from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (it is in PDF format and requires Adobe Acrobat Reader). This is the form you must fill out and submit to the CAR MANUFACTURER (not the State or DOT!). This way you are dealing directly with the automaker and they are required by law (as written in the form) to either refund you the money you paid OR give you another vehicle of the same make and model.
  4. Send the form to the address in your vehicle's owner's manual.
  5. Things to note: If the manufacturer chooses to refund your money, they are allowed (by law) to deduct a certain amount for any mileage you accumulated while owning the vehicle. If they replace it, then there are no deductions. Check with the DOT to determine how much they are entitled to deduct.
  6. HOWEVER you ARE also entitled to anything extra you spent, such as getting your car towed, renting a car while your lemon car is broken down, etc. This is why it's important to keep track of all the paperwork as mentioned in Step 1!
  7. The manufacturer is required to act within 30 days of receiving the Notice.
  8. If the manufacturer does not respond within the 30 days, you will have to use an arbitration program. Under the Wisconsin Lemon Law, you must first try arbitration with the manufacturer before filing a lawsuit. An up-to-date list of arbitration programs is available on WisDOT's website.
  9. If for whatever reason arbitration doesn't work out, you must file a lawsuit. Winning the lawsuit could potentially entitle you to twice the value of your lemon car (so if you paid $10,000, you might win $20,000) plus attorney fees and such, but once it goes it court, it's a long process. So hopefully you can settle everything in arbitration!
You can find attorneys who specialize in Lemon Law cases here.