The Massachusetts Lemon Law protects consumers who purchased or leased cars in the state of Massachusetts that then turn out to have serious defects within a certain time period and those defects are unable to be repaired to the satisfaction of the consumer.
Specifics of the Massachusetts Lemon Law are contained on the website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We will summarize the Massachusetts Lemon Law here briefly.
Massachusetts Lemon Law – What It Is
The purpose of the Massachusetts Lemon Law is to protect consumers who have serious defects on their new cars. Under the Massachusetts Lemon Law, a lemon is defined as a new or leased motor vehicle that has a defect that substantially impairs the use, market value or safety of the vehicle and which has not been repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.
If you believe that you have a lemon and your vehicle is identified as a lemon, you may have a right to a replacement vehicle or a refund under the Massachusetts Lemon Law. It is important to keep in mind that not all vehicles with problems will be serious enough to qualify under the Massachusetts Lemon Law.
Vehicles Covered and Not Covered
The Massachusetts Lemon Law stipulates that any new car, motorcycle, van or truck purchased in Massachusetts from a new car dealer for personal or family purposes is covered by the Lemon Law of the state of Massachusetts.
The term of “protection” is for one year or 15,000 miles of use from the date of original delivery to the buyer or lessee, whichever comes first. What does this mean? It means that the problems or defects that you are complaining about, as well as the required repair attempts, must occur during this period. Note that the manufacturer’s final repair can take place after the term of protection expires.
In addition, the law also covers vehicles that are resold during the one-year or 15,000-mile term of protection, and new vehicles leased after July 1, 1997.
Vehicles not covered include auto-homes, vehicles built primarily for off-road use, vehicles used primarily for business purposes, vehicles with defects caused by owner negligence, vandalism, accidents, or unauthorized repair of the vehicle by someone other than the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s authorized agent, or vehicles leased before July 1, 1997.
What Qualifies as Serious Defects?
The Massachusetts Lemon Law only covers serious defects or substantial impairment of the use, market value or safety of the vehicle. Specific defects are not listed in the law. You, as the consumer, must be able to demonstrate how the use, safety or market value of your vehicle is substantially impaired by the defect you are complaining about. Market value impairment, for example, could be demonstrated if you can show that your vehicle is worth 10 percent less than it would be without the defect.
Keep in mind that many defects may be annoying, but that does not mean that they are substantial impairments.
Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts
The Massachusetts Lemon Law gives the manufacturer of your vehicle, its agent, or authorized dealer, a reasonable number of attempts to repair the substantial defect you are complaining about. Under the law, this standard is met if, within the term of protection of one year or 15,000 miles:
- Three or more attempts to repair the vehicle occur for the same substantial defect, and the problem continues or occurs again within the term of protection
- Repair attempts for any substantial defect or number of defects total 15 or more business days, although these do not necessarily have to be all at one time.
In order to protect your rights under the Massachusetts Lemon Law, it is imperative that you keep complete and accurate records of all contacts with the manufacturer and dealer. Keep all receipts as well. You have the right to an itemized, dated bill for any repair work done, including warranty repair work. This is your right under the Attorney General’s Motor Vehicle Regulations (940 CMR 5.00). It is up to you to examine your repair orders and bills to make sure that your problem is listed as you presented it when you brought your vehicle in for repairs.
In order to proceed in the next step of the Massachusetts Lemon Law, the defect must continue or recur after a reasonable number of repair attempts and still be substantially impairing your vehicle.
Manufacturers Have One Final Attempt at Repair
If the substantial defect continues after a reasonable number of repairs have been made and your vehicle is substantially impaired (safety, market value or use) as a result, you must send written notice to the manufacturer, giving the manufacturer one final attempt to repair your vehicle. Send it to the manufacturer, not the dealer and send via certified mail, return receipt requested. After receipt of your written request, the manufacturer has a period not to exceed seven days to fix the defect.
If, at the end of the seven-day period, your vehicle is not repaired, or has been repaired and the problem recurs, you have the right to a refund or a replacement under the Massachusetts Lemon Law. If, however, the manufacturer does not comply voluntarily, you may request an arbitration hearing.
For more information about vehicle replacement or refund, asserting your rights, mediation, arbitration, or court, see the website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.