Mississippi’s Lemon Law
The first thing to remember about Mississippi’s lemon law is that it applies to any vehicle with an express warranty on it, so even used vehicles may be covered by the statute.
However, the law covers only vehicles that are operated on public streets and highways to transport people and property, and not vehicles that run on tracks, off-road vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, and electric personal assistive mobility devices. Leased vehicles are not covered unless they are acquired through a lease purchase.
The law covers defects or malfunctions in a vehicle—which it labels “nonconformities”—that affect the use, market value, or safety of your vehicle. The nonconformity must fall within one of these three categories and cannot be the result of something you have done. The nonconforming problem must also be covered by the warranty.
The dealership where you purchased the vehicle must have a chance to fix the problem. If the dealer keeps the vehicle in its repair facility for 15 or more days (they don’t have to be consecutive days) or fails to repair the defect after three attempts, the lemon law kicks in.
Keep in mind that as the owner, you are constrained by certain time limits. Your lemon law claim must be made within one year after the expiration of the warranty or within 18 months after receiving the vehicle, whichever occurs first.
Informal Dispute Resolution Procedure
Under Mississippi’s lemon law, manufacturers are allowed to force consumers through an arbitration process before they can exercise their right to replacements or refunds. As a result, you cannot initiate a request for replacement/refund until 90 days after the dispute resolution process ends. However, this prior resort is not required if the manufacturer failed to notify the consumer of the availability of the informal dispute settlement procedure.
This requirement for mandatory arbitration is one of the reasons that The Center for Auto Safety ranks Mississippi’s lemon law as tied for 38th out of 51 nationwide lemon laws. The center also criticized the 20-cent-per-mile offset as encouraging “a manufacturer to delay taking back a lemon.”
You must first notify the manufacturer in writing of the nonconformity or nonconformities affecting your vehicle, expressing your request for restitution. After all the other necessary steps have been taken – including giving the dealer a chance to repair the defect, going through arbitration, and meeting all statutory time limits – you can file a lawsuit.
If you prevail in your lemon law claim, you must be given a comparable replacement vehicle or offered a refund of the purchase price.
The consumer’s use charge is figured at 20 cents per mile driven. After that is deducted, manufacturers repurchasing a nonconforming vehicle must repay the full vehicle purchase price. That includes any taxes, registration, title and licensing fees, and any charges for accessories installed by the manufacturer. They must also repay all reasonably incurred collateral charges, including towing and replacement car rental costs.