New motor vehicle lemon laws were passed by the Queensland Government to give greater consumer protection for buyers of defective cars; but the new laws also protect buyers of motorbikes, motorhomes and caravans.
The Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, pass on 3 April 2019, makes it easier for consumers to pursue a faulty vehicle claim through QCAT when a suitable remedy can’t be reached with the dealer or manufacturer.
QCAT’s jurisdictional limit has been raised from $25,000 to claims of up $100,000 for new and used motor vehicles.
The reforms also restore 30 day warranties for motorists buying a vehicle more than 10-years old or with more than 160,000 kilometres on-the-clock from a licensed dealer.
The new laws lift the limit for claims from $25,000 to $100,000, covering the costs of new and used motor vehicles, motorhomes and caravans
"Lemon laws” for cars are back under the microscope after the Queensland Government passed new legislation to crack down on the sale of defective motor vehicles.
The term ‘lemon’ in motoring parlance describes a motor vehicle, generally new, which turns out to have several defects or reliability issues after it has been purchased.
The new legislation passed with bipartisan support, making it easier for customers who have bought a lemon to recover their losses from car dealers and manufacturers in the first instance or, in the last resort, via the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
“For many Queenslanders, a new or second-hand motor vehicle is one of the biggest purchases they will make aside from buying a home,” Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said in a statement.
“The last thing anybody expects when they get the keys to a new car, motorhome or caravan is to be stuck with a defective vehicle that frankly can only be described as a lemon.”
Whilst the new lemon laws are great news for car buyers, some dealers warn they could be driven out of business.
Many automotive industry groups have been critical of proposals for ‘lemon laws’ at a state and federal level, arguing the current Australian Consumer Law protections are more than adequate for car buyers.
Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, said the motor industry is far from the worst offender when it comes to unreliable goods. “For some reason, there is a view that because one or two cars in the market have been problematic, that we need duplicating legislation and what it will do, in actual fact, it will just send more car dealers to the wall,” he said.
“The last thing we need in any state, whether it be Queensland or Victoria or nationally, is another piece of legislation that allows the consumer to make a judgement call on whether that car is fit for purpose and then to bring that back and potentially demand either a new car or their money back.”
He said the new laws in Queensland unfairly target car dealers and points to the issue of enforcing statutory warranties for vehicles over ten years old.
“The majority of cars in that range are sold by consumers [and they] don’t have to meet any of those consumer law guarantees, whatsoever,” he said.
“But a new car dealer or a second-hand car dealer has to meet a whole new test around the adequacy of that product, that doesn’t have to be met by the hundreds of thousands of consumers that sell their car to somebody up the road.”
In Australia, motor vehicles come under the Australian Consumer Law which offers consumer guarantees for new and used cars bought in Australia.
It entitles consumers to a refund or replacement in this case of a ‘major failure’.