A yacht, sailboat or other recreational sea vessel is a considerable investment. As such, you expect the manufacturer to put top-notch craftmanship and care into the construction of your vessel. It can be infuriating to have to deal with malfunctions, defects and other potentially costly problems, especially if they occur repeatedly.
Fortunately, there are both federal and state laws that protect purchasers of faulty sea vessels like yourself, so that you do not have to assume the cost of these repairs without recourse.
What does the law cover?
The federal lemon law (officially named The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act) is a statute that applies to the purchase of vehicles that have a manufacturer’s warranty. This law does not only cover car purchases – watercraft purchases qualify for the same protection under the statute.
Under the law, if you purchase a vessel that has a manufacturer’s warranty, and then discover serious defects, you can bring it into the manufacturer or dealer for repairs. If they don’t fix the issue after a reasonable amount of time, then you have a federal cause of action for breach of warranty. This means that you can use the judicial system to make the manufacturer pay you damages for the defects, or even purchase the vessel back from you at the price you paid for it.
In addition, most states have lemon laws as well. States differ on whether their respective lemon laws apply to watercraft or not. It is a good idea to verify with an attorney whether the state that you purchased your vessel in has laws that you can use to your advantage, or if you will have to rely exclusively on the federal statute.
What if I bought a used vessel?
The federal lemon law might apply to the purchase of used watercraft, depending on the circumstances. If, when you purchased the vessel, the warranty was still valid, and if the warranty passed to you in the purchase, then you have the same protections as if you had purchased the vessel from the manufacturer.
When a vessel contains serious defects, it’s not just a financial problem. Mechanical or structural defects in a watercraft can endanger your life and those of your passengers. It is a relief to know that you have options for holding manufacturers and dealers responsible if they fail to uphold the warranty they gave you.