WebLaw - New York Lemon Law – New and Used Cars
 
New York Lemon Law – New and Used Cars
 
The New York Lemon Law is designed to protect purchasers of new or used vehicles in situations where the vehicle fails to conform to the written warranties made by the manufacturer. The statute, while clear, does require action by both the consumer and manufacturer and imposes specific timeframes. A general summary of the law is presented here, but those seeking protection should consult with an attorney or the statute itself before taking action. 

To obtain protection under the New York New Car Lemon Law (General Business Law section 198-a), several conditions must satisfied. 
     •  First, the law protects only consumers who buy or lease a vehicle for personal use. 
     •  Second, the vehicle must have been covered by a warranty at the time of its delivery to the consumer. 
     •  Third, for new vehicles, the law covers defects that arise during the first 18,000 miles or two years from delivery, whichever occurs first. For used vehicles, the duration of the warranty depends on miles of operation. However, there is no warranty for vehicles over 100,000 miles. 
     •  Fourth, the vehicle must have been bought in, leased in, or be currently registered in New York State. For a used vehicle, the purchase price or lease value must be at least $1,500. 
     •  Fifth, the defect or condition must "substantially impair" the value of the vehicle. A "substantial impairment" is not defined under the statute and is fact-specific. For example, courts have found that serious problems, such as engine defects or even the cumulative effects of lesser problems, can satisfy the requirement.

Upon discovery, the consumer must report the flaw to the manufacturer or authorized dealer. If the dealer is notified, it has seven days to report the problem to the manufacturer. The law then requires the manufacturer or its agent to make reasonable attempts to repair the problem at no charge. AReasonable@ is generally considered four attempts to repair the same problem or a total period of thirty days during which the vehicle is out of service due to repair attempts.

If reasonable attempts are made to correct the problem, but the condition persists, the consumer has the option of accepting either a comparable replacement vehicle or return of the purchase/lease price minus allowances for usage above 12,000 miles and/or damage beyond normal wear.

However, the manufacturer or dealer may avoid liability in situations where the nonconformity, defect or condition does not substantially impair the value of the vehicle or where the problem is a result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification. If the manufacturer refuses to correct the problem, the statute enables consumers to file a lawsuit or seek arbitration.

Statutory arbitration is facilitated through the New York State New Car Lemon Law Arbitration Program through the New York State Attorney General's Office. During the arbitration process, both parties can present their positions, and a binding decision will be made by a program-appointed arbitrator. To participate, consumers must complete and submit a program application. More information may be found at www.ag.ny.gov/bureaus/consumer_frauds/tips/usedcar_lemon_factsheet.html.
 
The information provided by the Nassau County Bar Association is not meant to serve as specific legal advice for a particular situation or as a substitute for consultation with a lawyer. If you require the services of a lawyer, you may call the Nassau County Lawyer Referral Service at (516) 747-4832, email referral@nassaubar.org, or go to www.nassaubar.org.
 
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