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The Massachusetts Lemon Law is designed to protect buyers against purchasing new or used motor vehicles that have substantial defects and are unsafe to be driven on Massachusetts roads. The Lemon Law is administered by the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
The Massachusetts Lemon Law has three parts: new and leased vehicles; used vehicles; and Lemon Aid. Each of these laws is discussed in detail below, as well as all the general information you need to know about protecting yourself from wasting your money on a bad motor vehicle.
Basically, the new car Lemon Law is there to protect the consumer who buys a new or used car and finds that it has problems that seriously impair the use of the vehicle and cannot be resolved after a number of attempts to fix it.
Any new car, motorcycle, van, or truck bought in Massachusetts from a new-car dealer is covered for 1 year or 15,000 miles of use, whichever comes first. The law also covers vehicles that are resold during the term of 1 year or 15,000 miles of protection.
If your car meets these qualifications, you can either ask for a replacement or refund and the dealer is legally required to give it to you.
There's a specific process that anyone considering using the Massachusetts Lemon Law must follow:
- You need to bring the car in for repair for the same problem at with at least 3 attempts to repair it or for a cumulative total of 15 business days.
- You need to officially notify the manufacturer of 1 final attempt to repair the vehicle. The manufacturer has 7 days to comply.
- If the manufacturer tries to repair it and fails, you have the right to ask for a refund or replacement. If the manufacturer does not respond to your final request, you need to ask for a mediation or arbitration hearing.
The used vehicle portion of the Massachusetts Lemon Law covers both dealer sales and private party sales. The state defines used vehicles as any used car, van, truck or demonstration vehicle that:
- Is sold by a Massachusetts dealer or private party.
- Cost at least $700 (dealer sales only).
- Has under 125,000 miles on the odometer at time of sale (dealer sales only).
Dealers are required to provide a warranty for up to 90 days and 3,750 miles. Basically, the dealer is required to repair any defect that impairs the use or safety of the vehicle during the warranty period, unless you caused the problems yourself through negligence or making a change to the car yourself (like installing a sunroof that leaks, for example).
The dealer can charge an initial $100 deductible for repairs or offer to buy back the car for the full purchase price instead of making repairs. The dealer may only charge the deductible if it is written in the warranty information.
Private party sellers are required to inform the buyer of any defects that could impair use or safety. If the buyer discovers a serious defect post-sale, and can prove the seller knew about the defect, the buyer may cancel the sale and request a full refund within the first 30 days after purchase.
If your newly purchased vehicle―new, leased or used―fails to pass inspection within the first 7 days after purchase, and repairs to the vehicle would exceed 10% of the purchase price, you can cancel your purchase or lease agreement and ask for a refund, under the Lemon-Aid portion of the Lemon Law.
To be eligible for a refund, you need to do the following:
- Get a written statement from the inspection station explaining why the vehicle failed to pass the safety or combined safety and emissions inspection test.
- Obtain a written estimate of the costs of the repairs required to pass inspection, showing that those costs exceed 10% of the purchase price.
- Notify the seller by mail of your intention to void the contract under the Lemon-Aid Law. Enclose a copy of the documents listed above. Be sure to save copies for your files.
- Deliver the car back to the seller, even if you have to tow it. Take a witness with you and copies of the documents discussed above.
- If the seller refuses to accept the car, prepare a written statement indicating that you and a witness delivered the car to the seller on that date, but the seller refused to accept the car. Be sure the statement is signed by both you and your witness in the presence of a notary public.
- Motor homes
- Vehicles built primarily for off-road use
- Vehicles used primarily for business purposes
- Vehicles with defects caused by owner negligence, accidents, vandalism, or unauthorized repair of the vehicle by a person other than the manufacturer or authorized agent
- Vehicles leased before July 1, 1997.