Lemon Law in Rhode Island

What is the Rhode Island Lemon Law?

A lemon is considered any recently purchased vehicle, new or used, with an unexpected flaw that is not repaired after repeated attempts by the seller or manufacturer within a reasonable period of time. To protect you from such a problem, Rhode Island instituted a lemon law.

Basically, the Rhode Island lemon law requires vehicle manufacturers to either replace your vehicle or refund your purchase if your vehicle is determined to be a lemon.

If you suspect you may have been burdened with a lemon, regardless if it was intentional or unintentional, you may use the court to aid your cause. Before taking legal action, you must make sure you understand the lemon law.

On this page you'll find a general overview of some of the aspects of the Rhode Island lemon law and what you may need to do if you have purchased a lemon.

Rhode Island Lemon Law Protections

The Rhode Island lemon law protects:

  • New vehicles that have been leased or purchased.
  • Used vehicles that have been leased or purchased.

Purchased or Leased New Vehicles

Your new vehicle may qualify as a lemon if the same defect can't be repaired after 4 attempts within:

  • 1 year after your purchase/lease.
  • 15,000 miles.

Used Vehicles

Your used vehicle may qualify as a lemon in Rhode Island if it:

  • Has been out of service for 15 days or more within the warranty period.
  • Cannot be fixed after 3 attempts to repair the same defect within the warranty period

Recommended Lemon Law Documentation

If you have detailed documentation of your vehicle's problems, you'll have a much stronger case. So, before notifying Rhode Island's Attorney General's office, make sure you have on file:

  • Sale and/or lease documents.
  • Maintenance records, including receipts for maintenance supplies.
  • Repair statements.
  • All documents pertaining to the problem.

Depending on whether your vehicle is new or used, you may need to follow a specific dispute settlement process.

Before hiring an attorney and taking the issue to course, you may be able to try to settle your lemon through your vehicle manufacturer's informal dispute board. Information should be available in your owner's manual or by contacting the manufacturer.

If you need legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.

For New or Leased Vehicles

You must either complete a complaint form with Rhode Island's Attorney General and pay a filing fee or try to settle the issue through the manufacturer's informal dispute program.

If you choose to contact the Attorney General's office, it will notify the manufacturer or dealer and then hand your case over to the Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board. The Board will gather and study all information relevant to your case before issuing a verdict.

If the verdict falls in your favor, the manufacturer or dealer who sold you your lemon will then have 30 days to comply to the terms decided by the Board. Usually, this means you'll either receive a full refund or an identical or similar replacement vehicle.

If the manufacturer does not cooperate or the settlement is not satisfactory, you may be able to contact an attorney and file a lawsuit.

For Used Vehicles

The Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board does not handle used car cases. You, unfortunately, must do most of the leg work. You should inquire if the dealership or manufacturer has an informal dispute process. If not, you should hire a lawyer to handle your case.

Hiring a Rhode Island Lemon Law Attorney

If you haven't reached an agreement with the dealer or vehicle manufacturer, you may need to consult an attorney to present your lemon law case in court. Attorneys can offer the following assistance:

  • Help you understand RI lemon laws and consumer rights.
  • Negotiate a settlement with a dealer or manufacturer.
  • Submit all required court documentation.

If you cannot arrange a settlement out of court, you may need to hire a lemon law attorney to obtain a refund or replacement of your vehicle.

NOTE: To have the strongest case possible, you'll need to keep records of the vehicle's issues and related documentation, as your Rhode Island lemon law attorney will need them.

RI Lemon Law Attorney Advice

If you're going to proceed with your lemon law case, you'll likely have some questions about how the RI lemon law applies to your situation. Get yourself ready for court by consulting a lawyer for legal advice on your lemon.

Your lemon law attorney will be able to:

  • Provide details about the lemon law in Rhode Island.
  • Communicate with the dealer or manufacturer.
  • Help you gather your documentation and establish your defense.

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