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President’s Day is synonymous with nationwide car deals.  Dealership car sales increase by about 25 percent during this holiday weekend, according to Ray Zhou, a senior analyst for car shopping website Edmunds.com.  If you choose to take advantage of reduced prices and purchase a vehicle during this upcoming President’s Day, it is important to understand the laws in place that can protect Massachusetts car buyers.  If you suspect you have purchased a defective vehicle, whether it’s a new or used car, you may have recourse under state law.

Used car purchases are protected under the Used Vehicle Warranty Law, which requires dealers to provide consumers with a written warranty against defects that impair the vehicle’s use or safety during the term of protection (up to 90 days or 3,750 miles depending upon how many miles are on the odometer of the car when you buy it). It also requires private parties to disclose any known use or safety defects that the vehicle may have.

If the dealer does not give you a warranty or gives you one that is inaccurate, you are still entitled to warranty repairs. Your warranty does not begin to expire until the dealer gives you an accurate copy.  You have a right to a refund if the vehicle was repaired three or more times for the same defect and the defect continued to exist or recurred during the warranty period, or the vehicle was out of service for reason of repair for at least 11 business days during the warranty period, not necessarily all at one time.  If the dealer refuses to refund your money, you have the right to pursue state-certified arbitration.

While the Used Vehicle Warranty helps thousands of consumers get a fair deal on their used car purchases, it does not apply to:

  • motorcycles, mopeds, dirt bikes;
  • leased vehicles;
  • auto homes, and vehicles built primarily for off-road use; or
  • any vehicle used primarily for business purposes, or purchased by, owned by or registered to a business.

 

If you purchase a new car, the vehicle is likely protected under the Lemon Law.

The Massachusetts Lemon Law is designed to protect consumers who purchase a new vehicle.  State law defines a “lemon” as a newly purchased or leased motor vehicle that has one or more defects that significantly impair the use, market value, or safety of the vehicle and has not been repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.

The Lemon Law covers new car purchases within one year or 15,000 miles of use from the original date of delivery, whichever comes first.  In order to qualify as a “lemon,” your vehicle’s defect must be discovered, and the repair attempts made, during that period.

The first step in the Lemon Law process is to give the manufacturer, its agent, or the selling dealer the opportunity to repair the vehicle.  If the repair is attempted three or more times, or if the vehicle is out of service for at least 15 business days, the manufacturer is allowed one final attempt to repair the defect, not to exceed seven business days.  The final repair opportunity can take place after the term of protection.

As an alternative to repairing the defect, the manufacturer may offer you a refund or a replacement.  The replacement must be acceptable to you.  If the manufacturer does not comply with this process, you have the right to pursue state-certified arbitration.

Keep in mind, the Lemon Law does not cover:

  • Auto-homes;
  • Vehicles built primarily for off-road use;
  • Vehicles used primarily for business purposes; or
  • Vehicles with defects caused by owner negligence, accidents, vandalism, or unauthorized repair of the vehicle by a person other than the manufacturer or authorized agent.

 

This is only a summary of your rights.  For more information on the Used Vehicle Warranty Law and the Lemon Law, visit our website.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm.  Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.  The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

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