Lemon Law in New York

You can't believe it. The new car you bought makes an atrocious knocking noise when you drive it, and the dealer's mechanic can't seem to find the problem. Do you have to just bite the bullet and buy a lifetime supply of earplugs?

Fortunately, you do have recourse. New York has laws to protect you in case a dealer sells you a "lemon"―a car that is unsafe, inefficient, or riddled with defects.

New York's New Car Lemon Law compels the manufacturer of such a car to make the necessary repairs (usually through the dealer that sold it), refund your money, or replace the vehicle. The law is limited to cars used primarily for personal use and does not cover motorcycles, ATVs, or the living quarters of an RV. A car is covered under the New Car Lemon Law if all of the following apply:

  1. It was covered under a manufacturer's warranty when it was originally delivered to its first buyer.
  2. It was bought, leased, or transferred in the state of New York within the vehicle's first 18,000 miles or 2 years from original delivery (whichever is earlier).
  3. It's registered in New York.

Notice that a vehicle with up to 18,000 miles on it may still be covered under the New Car Lemon Law.

New York also has a Used Car Lemon Law for cars older than that or with more miles under their tires. Under the Used Car Lemon Law, vehicles that come from a dealer must have a warranty if they cost $1,500 or more and have been driven fewer than 100,000 miles.

New Car Lemon Law

This law gives the consumer the right to receive the necessary repairs free if the problem is covered under the new-car warranty and is reported within 2 years of delivery or before it passes 18,000 miles.

If the dealer can't fix the defect after 4 attempts, or if you haven't been able to drive the car for 30 days or more because of the issue, you are then entitled to either a replacement vehicle or a refund of your purchase price―your choice.

The defect must also substantially impair the value of the vehicle to the consumer to qualify under this law. If you opt for a refund, the manufacturer may adjust the amount based on how many miles of service you did get from the car.

This law covers leased vehicles as well; you're entitled to a refund of the down payment plus the lease payments you made, minus any service fees charged as part of the lease agreement.

What If a Dealer Refuses to Repair the Car?

Once you notify the dealer who sold you the car about the car's defects, they should make the needed repairs. If they refuse, after 7 days you can notify the manufacturer of the car (in writing, sent via certified mail) of the dealer's refusal.

At that point, the manufacturer has 20 days to begin the necessary repairs. If the defect is not fixed, or the manufacturer also refuses, you are then entitled to a replacement of your vehicle or a refund of the purchase price.

Used Car Lemon Law

Your protection under the law when you buy from a New York dealer extends to used cars as well. The dealer must provide a warranty on the vehicle that covers at least the engine, transmission, drive axle, brakes, radiator, steering, alternator, generator, starter, and ignition system (not including the battery).

Under the warranty, the dealer must either repair the defect or reimburse you for the repair costs. The length of the warranty depends on how many miles are on the vehicle when you buy it:

  • 18,001 to 36,000 miles: 90 days or 4,000 miles
  • 36,001 to 79,999 miles: 60 days or 3,000 miles
  • 80,000 to 100,000 miles: 30 days or 1,000 miles

The Used Car Lemon Law entitles you to a replacement vehicle or refund if the dealer is unable to correct the problem after 3 attempts to repair or the car has been out of service for at least 15 days.

For More Information

The New York State Consumer Protection board has posted a very clearly written consumer manual for automobiles that covers the state's lemon laws. In it, you'll find a wealth of information about your rights as a car buyer with regard to dealers, repair shops, warranties, dispute resolution, and more.

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