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President’s Day is this Monday, and many consumers may be looking to purchase or lease new and usedsnowy car cropped
cars. This two part series on car purchasing and leasing will provide tips on how you can get the right car and be protected under the Lemon Law. Used car purchases are protected specifically under the Used Vehicle Warranty Law.

What is the Used Vehicle Warranty Law?

The Used Vehicle Warranty Law protects consumers who buy used vehicles from a dealer or private party in Massachusetts (M.G.L. c. 90 §7N 1/4). The law requires dealers to provide consumers with a written warranty against defects that impair the vehicle’s use or safety, and requires private parties to disclose any known use or safety defects.

When purchasing a USED car, the law covers used cars, vans, trucks, and demonstration vehicles not covered by the New Car Lemon Law, and which:

  • Are sold by a Massachusetts dealer or private party
  • Cost at least $700 (dealer sales only)
  • Have fewer than 125,000 miles on the odometer when sold (dealer sales only)

It does NOT cover:

  • Motorcycles, mopeds and dirt bikes
  • Leased vehicles
  • Auto homes and vehicles build primarily for off-road use
  • Any vehicle used primarily for business purposes, or purchased by, owned by, or registered to a business

NOTE: The Used Vehicle Warranty Law applies differently to vehicles purchased from a private party than it does if purchased from a dealer. The law defines a dealer as anyone who sells four or more vehicles in a 12 month period.

Purchasing from a Private Party

Private party sellers are required to inform buyers about any and all known defects that could be unsafe or substantially impair the use of the vehicle regardless of sale price or mileage. If a defect is discovered and you can prove that the seller knew about it but failed to disclose it, the sale can be cancelled within 30 days of purchase. The seller must refund the amount paid for the vehicle, less 15 cents per mile of use. If the seller refuses to cancel the contract within 30 days of sale, you should contact an attorney.

NOTE: Private party sellers are NOT required to repair the vehicle after it has been sold.

Purchasing from a Dealer

Dealers, unlike private parties, are required to repair any defect that impairs the vehicle’s use or safety.

It does NOT cover defects that:

  • Affect appearance only
  • Are covered by the manufacturer’s express warranty and the dealer assures that the repairs were made
  • Are caused by negligence, abuse, vandalism, or accidents unrelated to the defect
  • Are caused by repair attempts made by someone other than the dealer, its agent, or the manufacturer
  • Are caused by a substantial change you made to the vehicle (for example, installing a sunroof that was not part of the vehicle when you bought it)

Dealer Warranty

Anyone who sells four or more vehicles in a one-year period is considered a dealer under the Used Vehicle Warranty Law. Dealer warranties cannot be waived under any circumstances. At the time of purchase, the dealer must give you a signed, dated, correct comp of the used vehicle warranty. This warranty requires the dealer to repair any effect that impairs the vehicle’s use or safety.

What is the length of the warranty?

The length of the warranty depends on the mileage or the age of the vehicle. To calculate what your warranty is, click here.

Can I get an extension on my warranty?

Your warranty is extended by one day for each day the vehicle is out of service for repairs, and by one mile for each mile it is driven while repairs are being made. In addition, any repair to a covered defect during the warranty period has its own 30-day warranty. That warranty begins the day the repair is completed and can continue after the initial warranty. A warranty extension chart can be found here.

What if my dealer doesn’t give me a warranty?

If the dealer doesn’t give you a warranty or provides you one that is incomplete, you are still entitled to warranty repairs. Under the state Lemon Laws, the warranty is not affected by the fact that you did not receive a warranty from the dealer, and will begin on the date that the dealer  gives you a complete and accurate copy of the warranty.

NOTE: The defects must occur during the warranty period. The vehicle must be returned to the dealer for repair no more than 5 business days after the expiration date of the warranty period. The dealer may charge you with a one-time $100 deductible, but only if this amount is written on your copy of the warranty.

When am I entitled to a refund?

  • The vehicle has been repaired 3 times for the same defect and it continues to exist or recurs during the warranty period.
  • The vehicle is out of service because of repair OR by invalid refusal to repair for at least 11 business days during the warranty period.

NOTE: A business day is defined as Monday through Friday except for state or federal holidays. When counting business days, any part a business day counts as a whole day.

How long am I expected to wait for parts to come in?

If the dealer must order parts during a repair attempt, the days waiting for the parts to come in do not count towards the 11 business days. Up to 21 calendar days during the warranty period will not be counted toward the 11 business days; any day after counts towards the 11 days.

What if the dealer refuses to repair my vehicle?

The dealer is only allowed to refuse repairs if you have refused a dealer’s offer to buy back the car for the full purchase price. If  a buy-back isn’t offered, the dealer must repair the vehicle.  If the dealer refuses, the car is considered out of service and every day after the date of refusal counts towards the 11 business day warranty. The same rule applies if the dealer fails to take the vehicle within the three business days of a phone or written request for a repair.

Can the dealer repurchase my car instead of repairing it?

Yes! The dealer has the right to offer to buy back the call for the full repurchase price instead of making repairs. It is your responsibility to determine the refund amount! Click here for a chart on how to calculate your own. If the dealer chooses to repurchase, the offer must be in writing. From the day the offer is made you have 5 business days to determine whether or not to accept the offer.

NOTE: If the dealer offers a full refund under the law and you refuse to accept it, you will not be entitled to further warranty repairs under the written warranty provided by the dealer. If you are unsatisfied with the offer made by the dealer, you can ask the Office of Consumer Affairs to help calculate it. If they determine that the offer should be higher than the amount offered, the dealer may offer you that new amount or withdraw the offer of repurchase. If the offer is withdrawn, you are still entitled to warranty repairs and can apply for arbitration if applicable.

 

What happens if the dealer doesn’t give me a refund?

If the manufacturer does not replace or refund your purchase, you may seek redress through mediation, arbitration, or the Massachusetts court system.

REMEMBER: Be wary of dealers who have not displayed Lemon Law stickers on their vehicles!

For information on your rights under the Lemon Law, or to obtain an arbitration application or case hearing information, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation at (617) 973-8787 or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757.

Click here for a step-by-step tool to figure out if you qualify under the Lemon Law.

 

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