Consumers who have purchased a new vehicle that turns out to have nothing but repeat problems, the same or different problems, may have some benefits afforded to them under the New Jersey Lemon Law. To know what the law is, what it covers, and how to take advantage of it, here is an overview of the New Jersey Lemon Law.
New Jersey Lemon Law
This is a consumer protection law enacted by the state of New Jersey that assists consumers when they purchase a new motor vehicle that develops repeated defects or lengthy unusable periods within the first two years or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The specific intent of the law is to compel manufacturers to fix defects that are originally covered under the manufacturer’s warranty and which are both identified and reported within a specified time period.
The law also provides specific procedures to quickly resolve disputes between the consumer and the manufacturer as well as remedies when the uncorrected defect substantially impairs the value, safety or use of the vehicle.
Specific information on the New Jersey Lemon Law can be found at the Office of Consumer Protection, Division of Consumer Affairs, the State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety.
- Who is covered – You are covered under the New Jersey Lemon Law if you buy or lease or register a new passenger vehicle or motorcycle in the state. You are protected for two years or 18,000 miles after the vehicle’s original delivery date, whichever comes first. If you transfer the vehicle to someone else during the two-year/18,000-mile period, that person is also covered by the New Jersey Lemon Law. The law does not apply to commercial vehicles or the living quarters of motor homes.
- How to know if your vehicle is a lemon – Under the New Jersey Lemon Law, a vehicle is presumed to be a lemon if it has one or more defects that continue to exist after three repair attempts, or if the vehicle has been out of service for a period of 20 cumulative calendar days.
- Get your vehicle repaired – New Jersey Lemon Law is very specific that you must report any defect or condition of your vehicle directly to the manufacturer or dealer immediately. As the consumer, you need to keep all receipts of repair attempts and a complete log of all contacts with the manufacturer or dealer. Obtain a dated and detailed statement every time you bring the vehicle to the dealer for repairs. This statement should include any charges for parts and labor, description of the problem, odometer reading when you brought the car in and when you pick it up, date you brought the car in for repair and when you picked it up, as well as a description of all work performed. It is the law in New Jersey that you be provided these statements, so be sure that you have them and keep them on file.
- Refund or replacement – If the dealer or manufacturer fails to repair your vehicle to your satisfaction despite repeated attempts to do so, the manufacturer may offer to replace your original vehicle. You do not, however, have to accept a vehicle replacement. You may, instead, demand a refund from the manufacturer. If the manufacturer refuses the refund, you may pursue the matter through a hearing through the Division of Consumer Affairs Automotive Dispute Resolution Program or through a civil suit in court. If you choose and are offered the refund, it will be for the full purchase price minus a reasonable allowance for personal use.
To solve problems with your vehicle, and be protected under the New Jersey Lemon Law, be sure to:
- Give the dealer the opportunity to repair your vehicle.
- Keep all repair receipts and document all contacts with the manufacturer and dealer.
- If substantial defects continue after two repair attempts or 20 cumulative calendar days, send a certified letter to the manufacturer giving one more chance to repair the vehicle.
- If the vehicle is not repaired successfully within 10 calendar days after the manufacturer received your written request, demand a refund.
- If the manufacturer does not agree to your request for a refund, file for dispute resolution through the Automotive Dispute Resolution Program of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, file for dispute resolution through the manufacturer’s system, or file a civil action in court.