Lemon Law in Massachusetts
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.
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.
MA New & Used Vehicles
In Massachusetts, lemon laws exist to protect you if you purchase a vehicle that has a substantial defect the manufacturer is unable to repair. This defect must substantially impair one of the following:
- Ability to use the vehicle.
- The car's market value.
- The safety of the vehicle.
The term of protection for your new or leased vehicle is 1 year or 15,000 miles from the date of delivery, whichever comes first. In this time period, the following must be true for your car to qualify as a "lemon":
- You've taken the vehicle in for repair of the same defect 3 attempts or more and the problem continues to occur.
- Total time spent attempting to repair the defect equals 15 business days or more (not necessarily consecutive).
Final Repair Attempt
If your vehicle's issue continues after the manufacturer (or dealer) has made a reasonable number of attempts to repair it, you must give the manufacturer a final chance to repair the defect. This attempt must not exceed 7 business days.
Even if you're past your term of protection ( 1 year or 15,000 miles), you may still notify the manufacturer of their opportunity to fix your vehicle.
If the defect persists, you may have the right to EITHER:
- A refund.
- A replacement vehicle.
Does a Used Vehicle Qualify?
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.*
- Has under 125,000 miles on the odometer at time of sale.*
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.
*Applies only to dealer sales.
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:
- 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.
When you are unable to get your issue resolved to your satisfaction, the state does give you some options.
You can elect to pursue:
- Mediation - A process that directs the parties involved to reach a mutually agreeable decision with the help of a facilitator.
- Arbitration - An informal process in which a complaint is resolved by both parties presenting evidence and a neutral third party making a decision.
- You can choose either a state-run arbitration program or a manufacturer-sponsored arbitration.
If you are still unable to resolve your situation, you can hire a lemon law attorney and attempt to get your compensation by going to court.
Vehicles Not Covered by the Massachusetts Lemon Law
- 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.
Benefits of Lemon Law Attorneys
When you're dealing with an automotive manufacturer or dealer, you need to be prepared. An attorney that specializes in Massachusetts lemon law knows exactly how to deal with these issues and provides your best option for getting a satisfactory settlement.
Benefits of having a MA lemon law attorney handle your case include:
- Lawyers know consumer rights.
- Resolutions may come much quicker than dealing with the issue yourself.
- An attorney's representation gives you more bargaining power.