A “lemon” is a vehicle that has a serious defect that keeps on recurring after a number of repair attempts. The state of South Dakota has a law that protects vehicle buyers who may/might have bought a lemon. So, if you purchase a vehicle with a defect that impairs its safety, use or market value, you will be entitled to a refund or a vehicle replacement.

Vehicles that are Covered

This law covers new and used vehicles that are made for use in public highways, except motor homes. The vehicle must weigh 10,000 lbs or more and have odometer reading of 24,000 miles or less. It must also be within 2 years of purchase from the dealer or manufacturer. Leased vehicles of any kind are not protected by this law. If your vehicle doesn’t qualify under South Dakota Lemon Law, you may use the Uniform Commercial Code or perhaps the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act to fight for your rights.

Attempting to Repair the Problem

For your vehicle to qualify as a lemon, it must have a defect that cannot be repaired after a number of reasonable attempts by the manufacturer to repair it. Basically, the manufacturer is allowed up to 4 attempts to fix the problem or at least 30 days to repair multiple problems. However, South Dakota Lemon Law requires you to take your vehicle for repair when it is within the first 24,000 miles or 2 years from the time of purchase. So, if your vehicle starts showing a problem, you must take it to the manufacturer for repair at the first sign of a problem. Be sure to keep all records and receipts and keep a log of time your vehicle spends in the manufacturer’s repair shop. Also, remember to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. This is important because if the manufacturer decides to use negligence to argue the case in his favor, you will have records to prove them wrong.

Manufacturer’s requirements

You must give the manufacturer a final chance to fix your vehicle. To notify him, you must send a registered letter to them indicating that you may invoke South Dakota Lemon Law, if they fail to fix the problem within a specified period. You must mention in the letter the description of the vehicle, description of the problem and the number of repair attempts. The manufacturer will have up to 7 days after receiving your letter to comply with your demands. At this point, a reputable manufacturer may try their best to fix the problem, by giving you a refund or vehicle replacement.

Filing a complaint

If the problem is not fixed after this final attempt and the manufacturer fail to comply with your demands, you must launch your complaint through any South Dakota informal Lemon Law dispute board before taking a legal action in the court of law. If the arbitrator rules the case in your favor, the manufacturer will be authorized to refund your money plus any other costs incurred or replace the vehicle with a comparable one. If you feel that you have a lemon but the arbitrator fails to rule the case in your favor, you may hire a lemon law attorney and file a lawsuit using South Dakota Lemon Law. Note: You’ll have to file your case against the manufacturer (not the dealer) within 3 years of the original delivery date. If you win the case, the manufacturer will be required by law to either refund your money plus all cost incurred or replace your car with a comparable one.

Recycled Lemons

If the manufacturer repurchases the vehicle from you, they may decide to replace the defective parts and resell it. Under this law, they must disclose to the next buyer (in writing) that the vehicle was a lemon, detailing the problem it had. Also, the manufacturer must obtain a new title for this vehicle.

Need Assistance?

If you need more information regarding South Dakota Lemon Law, you can contact the Office of the Attorney General in South Dakota at: Division of Consumer Protection 1302 Highway 14, Suite 3 Pierre, SD 57501 Phone: (605) 773-4400 Help Line: (800) 300-1986 You may also contact a lawyer specialized in lemon law matters.