Lemon Law

I Bought a Car and it was Useless – Lemon Law

by Jose Enrique Perez

Before the pandemic, Carlos bought used cars since he arrived to the United States in 2001. He does not like debt, but after getting some checks from the Coronavirus relief, he decided to buy a NEW car. Carlos and his family were all excited. Well, the excitement was unfortunately short lived. The engine in the car stopped working after one week only. When Carlos brought the car back to the dealer, the dealer said he would fix it. Two weeks later, however, the engine was again not working right. When Carlos brought the car back again, the dealer charged him for the additional repairs. This went on for a long time. In short, the car was never right, even though Carlos and his family spent a ton of money (they did not have) trying to make it right. As you can imagine, the new car was a huge investment for Carlos and his family, and the problems with the car caused a lot of financial stress on the family. The car was a piece of junk, or as most people say these days, it was a “lemon.”

Although there was no law specifically protecting people who bought cars that were lemons a few years back, we now have a law commonly referred to as the “Lemon Law.” The Lemon Law, which is more officially known as General Business Law §198-a, provides people with a legal remedy when they are sold a NEW OR USED car that turns out to be a lemon. The Lemon Law provides that when a car fails to conform with the terms of a written warranty during the first 18,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first, and the manufacturer or the authorized dealer cannot fix the car despite a reasonable number of attempts to fix it, the buyer is entitled to a full refund or a replacement car.

The Lemon Law covers both new and used cars that meet the following four conditions: (1) the car came with a manufacturer new car warranty; (2) the car was purchased, leased, or transferred within the first 18,000 miles or two years from the original date of delivery; (3) the car was either purchased in New York State or is currently registered in New York State; and (4) the car is primarily used for personal purposes, such as family and household errands and driving to and from work, the car is used by the person in his or her individual capacity and not for business. Motor homes are also covered by the Lemon Law, but motorcycles and off-road vehicles are not.

If you feel that you have been sold a car that is a lemon, you should immediately report the problem to the manufacturer or the dealer. The Lemon Law requires that the manufacturer repair any defects covered by the warranty free of charge. If you have been charged for these warranty-type repairs, you should contact the Attorney General’s Office. If the dealer refuses to make the necessary repairs, you should notify the manufacturer in writing by mail. The Lemon Law requires that the dealer begin repairs within 20 days after the manufacturer receives this notice.

You are entitled to have an attorney represent you when making a Lemon Law claim against a manufacturer or dealer; however, the Lemon Law includes an arbitration program. Arbitration is an informal hearing that is much less expensive and time consuming than hiring a lawyer and going to court. If you choose the arbitration route, you can generally expect a decision within 10 days of the hearing. For more information on the arbitration program, go to https://ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/lemon-law or you can call to the Consumer Hotline 1-800-771-7755.

Article photos by Sora Shimazaki and Anna Shvets from Pexels

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance or information about your rights. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with this program. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals involved in many areas. If you have any questions or concerns about a case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at joseperez@joseperezyourlawyer.com. The Law Office of Jose Perez is located at 659 West Onondaga Street, Upper Level, Syracuse, New York 13204. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester as well!!! Please look for my next article in the April edition and stay safe, get vaccinated or boosted and stay away from the Virus. In addition to our current practice of Personal Injuries, Work Accidents, Social Security and Immigration, we now also practice Criminal, Traffic, Family, DWI and Divorce.


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