If you bought or leased a car that’s a “lemon,” you may have a remedy under New York law. The Lemon Law protects consumers when a car doesn’t meet certain standards and can’t be reasonably fixed. If certain requirements are met, the buyer/lessee can get a free repair or buyback.
When does the Lemon Law apply?
The law provides remedies to buyers or lessees of new cars and certain “used” cars against the dealer/manufacturer when there are defects. If a car does not conform to the terms of its written warranty and the manufacturer or its authorized dealer is unable to repair the car after a reasonable number of attempts, a consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement.
In order to take advantage of the law, the owner/lessee must have either purchased/leased the car in New York or registered the car in New York. If the car was purchased elsewhere but is registered in New York, it must have been registered within 4 years of the owner/lessee receiving the car. For new cars, the defect must have occurred within 2 years of original delivery or the first 18,000 miles of operation, whichever is earlier. For used cars, the requirements depend on several factors set forth in the law.
What is the dealer/manufacturer’s responsibility?
The dealer/manufacturer has a duty to repair the car for no charge after you have provided notice of the defect. However, this duty only applies if the car was both purchased/leased in New York and registered in New York.
If the dealer/manufacturer is unable to repair the car after a reasonable number of attempts, a consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement (called a “buyback”). In the case of a buyback, the car must be either purchased/leased in New York or registered in New York.
How can a consumer get relief under the Lemon Law?
Under the Lemon Law, New York has an arbitration program allowing consumers to resolve disputes in an expedited manner. Consumers must file a request for arbitration and decisions can be rendered based on the submitted paperwork or by oral hearing. If the consumer wins, he/she also gets back the arbitration filing fee.
Arbitration is not an exclusive remedy. Consumers can sue in court rather than arbitrate the dispute. They can also go to court to appeal the arbitrator’s decision if they lose. In court, the prevailing party’s attorney’s fees are paid by the other party.
Although New York provides a faster way to resolve a dispute regarding a lemon car, it is important for consumers to consult an attorney. An attorney can advise regarding the strength of the case, preparing paperwork as well as represent the consumer in the arbitration or in court.