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With President’s Day fast approaching, many consumers are looking to purchase or lease new and used cars. This twonew car 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. Before you begin looking at cars in the dealership or lot, first check that Lemon Law stickers are prominently displayed on all of the vehicles. If this is not the case, choose another place to purchase or lease.

What is the Lemon Law?

The Massachusetts Lemon Law protects consumers who have serious defects in their new cars. State law defines a lemon as a new purchased or leased motor vehicle that has a defect which substantially impairs the use, market value, or safety of the vehicle, and which has not been repaired after a reasonable number of attempts (M.G.L. . 90, §7N1/2)

When purchasing or leasing a NEW vehicle, the law covers:

  • Cars
  • Motorcycles
  • Trucks
  • Used vehicles that are resold during the term of protection
  • New vehicles leased after July 1, 1977

It does NOT cover:

  • Auto-homes
  • Vehicles built primarily for off-road use
  • Vehicles used primarily for business purposes
  • 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

How long am I protected for?

The Lemon Law term of protection is one year or 15,000 miles of use from the date of original delivery, whichever comes first. The defect that occurs in your car must take place during that period. However, the final repair attempt can take place after the period of protection.

What exactly constitutes a “Substantial Impairment?”

The Lemon Law only covers serious defects. If a defect is bothersome or inconvenient but doesn’t fall under these categories, it may not be considered substantial. It must be demonstrated that the defect substantially impairs the use, safety, or market value of the vehicle.

So I bought a lemon… What do I do?

The Massachusetts Lemon Law gives the manufacturer, its agent, or an authorized dealer a chance to repair the vehicle. If the repair is attempted 3 or more times OR repair attempts take a total of 15 days for the same defect and the problem continues then you should move on to the next step in the process. Remember, the repairs MUST take place during the term of protection

Tips:

  • ALWAYS keep all records of receipts and contact attempts.
  • Review your receipts to make sure dates, repairs, and charges are correct.

The Final Attempt

If after the 3 or more repair attempts the defect continues, the manufacturer (not the dealer) has a final opportunity to repair the vehicle. They have 7 business days from the date the manufacturer receives the notice of final opportunity to repair to attempt a final repair. At the end of the 7 days, you may pick up your vehicle. The manufacturer can chose not to use this final opportunity. If the defect has not been repaired, or has been repaired and continues, you have the right to a refund or replacement.

Replacement or Refund?

If you are offered a replacement vehicle, you have the right to reject it and demand a refund. However, you cannot reject a refund and demand a replacement. Refund amounts depend on a number of factors that are specific to your vehicle and situation. Details on how to calculate the amount of money you are owed can be found here.

What happens if the manufacturer doesn’t give me a replacement or 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 the required 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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