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Indiana’s Lemon Law, How Does It Compare? (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, we compared the “reasonable allowance for use” provisions of Indiana’s Motor Vehicle Protection Act (Indiana’s “lemon law”) against Indiana’s neighboring states’ lemon laws and found that Indiana’s lemon law was the least favorable for consumers. In Part 2 of this series, I’d like to compare these lemon laws based on the kinds of vehicles to which they apply.

Indiana law reads:

Indiana Code 24-5-13-5 Sec. 1 5. As used in this chapter, “motor vehicle” or “vehicle” means any self-propelled vehicle that:

(1) has a declared gross vehicle weight of less than ten thousand (10,000) pounds;
(2) is sold to:
(A) a buyer in Indiana and registered in Indiana; or (B) a buyer in Indiana who is not an Indiana resident (as defined in IC 9-13-2-78);
(3) is intended primarily for use and operation on public highways; and (4) is required to be registered or licensed before use or operation.

The term does not include conversion vans, motor homes, farm tractors, and other machines used in the actual production, harvesting, and care of farm products, road building equipment, truck tractors, road tractors, motorcycles, mopeds, snowmobiles, or vehicles designed primarily for offroad use.

This definition basically limits Indiana’s lemon law to passenger cars, pickup trucks and most vans. Notably, conversion vans and motor homes are specifically excluded.

Illinois law reads:

“New vehicle” means a passenger car, as defined in Section 1-157 of The Illinois Vehicle Code, a motor vehicle of the Second Division having a weight of under 8,000 pounds, as defined in Section 1-146 of that Code, and a recreational vehicle, except for a camping trailer or travel trailer that does not qualify under the definition of a used motor vehicle, as set forth in Section 1-216 of that Code.

It appears that the major difference here is that, in addition to the vehicles covered by Indiana’s lemon law, motor homes are included. I can’t say for sure but it appears to me that most conversion vans would also be included in Illinois’ lemon law.

Michigan law reads:

“Motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle as defined in section 33 of the Michigan vehicle code, 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.33, that is designed as a passenger vehicle, or sport utility vehicle, but does not include a motor home, bus, truck other than a pickup truck or van, or a vehicle designed to travel on less than 4 wheels.

Michigan’s law seems to cover mostly the same vehicles that Indiana’s law covers, but in Michigan conversion vans appear to be covered and in Indiana they are not.

Ohio law reads:

“Motor vehicle” means any passenger car or noncommercial motor vehicle as defined in section 4501.01 of the Revised Code, or those parts of any motor home, as defined in section 4501.01 of the Revised Code, that are not part of the permanently installed facilities for cold storage, cooking and consuming of food, and for sleeping, but does not mean any mobile home as defined in division (O) of section 4501.01 of the Revised Code, recreational vehicle as defined in division (Q) of that section, or manufactured home as defined in division (C)(4) of section 3781.06 of the Revised Code.

Ohio law is a bit more expansive. It includes passenger cars, trucks and vans, motor homes (except for expressly excluded parts), motorcycles and basically any motorized, self-propelled vehicle that is not construction equipment, farm machinery, or a truck designed to carry more than a ton of payload.

Kentucky law reads:

“Motor vehicle” means every vehicle which is self-propelled, and which is intended primarily for use and operation on the public highways and required to be registered or licensed in the Commonwealth prior to such use or operation; however, “motor vehicle” shall not include:

(a) Any vehicle substantially altered after its initial sale from a dealer to an individual;
(b) Motor homes;
(c) Motorcycles;
(d) Mopeds;
(e) Farm tractors and other machines used in the production, harvesting, and care of farm products; or (f) Vehicles which have more than two (2) axles.

Kentucky law appears to be slightly less restrictive than Indiana’s lemon law; motorcycles, motor homes, and farm equipment vans are all excluded. It does appear, however, that Kentucky would include within its lemon law most conversion vans and some large trucks that might be excluded under Indiana’s lemon law because of weight.

CONCLUSION

Again it appears that, with regard to what vehicles are included, Indiana’s lemon law is the least favorable to consumers. Ohio’s lemon law again appears to be the most favorable to consumers of the states we examined.

This time, however, I can’t say I feel strongly that this provision of Indiana law should be changed. I know Northern Indiana has a large motor home and conversion van industry, and so I think it’s unlikely this provision would be amended. I’m not aware of a large number of lemon motorcycles in the state either. But perhaps most importantly, owners of these vehicles often have another option besides Indiana’s lemon law. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law that allows consumers to sue to enforce written or implied warranties that were given with the vehicle. The remedies available under Magnuson-Moss can be, depending on the circumstances, just as good as the remedies under the lemon law.

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