Substantially Impair the Use, Value, or Safety

April 11, 2010

The Missouri lemon law allows a manufacturer to try to prove that the problems with a consumer’s vehicle do not substantially impair the use, market value, or safety. If a vehicle has had 4 or more repair attempts, but the nonconformities are not serious, a manufacturer may not have to repurchase or replace the vehicle.

Missouri courts have held that whether the issues with a vehicle are “substantial” should be left to a jury. This means the manufacturer may make the argument, but will have to wait until trial to do so.

Whether a problem impairs the use of a vehicle should be analyzed from the perspective of the consumer. A manufacturer would otherwise always claim that the nonconformity was not  substantial. Even a small option may have been important to the vehicle owner. Furthermore, each component is important, because  every component is necessary to have the use of a complete vehicle.

Almost all repeat repair attempts would ultimately affect the value of a vehicle. Imagine if a consumer was about to purchase a vehicle, but right before they signed the purchase agreement, the salesman informed the consumer that the vehicle was going to require at least 4 repair attempts. Most reasonable consumers would no longer pay the same amount as they would have before learning of the issues.

The safety of the consumer is of paramount importance. If a vehicle’s problems could cause injury to the owner, or others on the road, the consumer should not be driving it. Often, though, a consumer has little choice but to continue driving a vehicle. The Missouri lemon law should help take such vehicles off the road before an accident occurs.


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