new york | new jersey lemon law attorneys

Purchasing a car is a big achievement. Whether it is your first personal car or the ninth addition to your company fleet lineup, there is a sense of achievement that comes with the purchase. Discovering that you purchased a vehicle that needs repair after repair, however, can feel both frustrating and scary. The Schmierer Law Group, serving greater New York and New Jersey, can help defend you against dealerships and manufacturers that might try to skirt responsibility.

The good news is that all states have some level of protection in place against purchasing lemons, whether you purchase one brand-new off the lot or from a used-car dealership. In New York, the state’s Lemon Law provides buyers with a few legal remedies they can look into. The Schmierer Law Group will work with you to see what your options are in New York and New Jersey.

Understanding What Lemons Are

Unfortunately, even the best vehicle manufacturer might have the occasional lemon in its ranks. This results from errors in the production or assembly line that create defective cars. Experts estimate that maybe just 1% of cars turn out to be lemons. This might sound low at first, but consider that this means one in every 100 cars or 10 in every 1,000 cars. Thinking of it in this way makes it seem a lot more likely for someone to encounter a lemon.

There are several different types of defects that can result in a car being labeled a lemon. Some are more dangerous than others, but all of them reduce the safety and value of the vehicle. Here are a few examples:

  • Malfunctioning brakes
  • Faulty steering
  • Transmission problems
  • Defective paint jobs
  • Noxious fumes entering the main cabin

Reasonable Opportunity for Repair

Not surprisingly, you might have your own opinions on what counts as a reasonable number of chances for a company to repair the same car before you feel ready to give it up for another one. This is especially the case if the company continues to repair the same problem. However, New York’s Lemon Law sets the limit at three. This means that by four or more attempts, you have already provided a reasonable opportunity to repair.

If the issues in the vehicle lead to it being out of service for a total of 30 days or more, you might also meet the requirement for providing a reasonable opportunity to repair it. Even if the manufacturer failed to accomplish this due to its own backlog, you might have the opportunity to push for a refund or replacement.

Vehicles Covered by State Law

In New York, the Lemon Law only applies to vehicles that meet four specific requirements. Note that the vehicle must meet all four to qualify:

  • Was either transferred, leased or purchased in the state of New York or is currently registered in the state
  • Was transferred, leased or purchased within two years of the original delivery date or before 18,000 miles
  • Was protected by a warranty at the time it was first delivered
  • Is used primarily for personal purposes

When Manufacturers Are Not Held Liable

Some people take more pride in their vehicles than others. The simplest mark or rattle can severely impact the driving and ownership experience. Imagine, then, the discontent when the New York Lemon Law states that for the law to take effect, the problem must lead to a substantial reduction in the value of the vehicle. If this is not the case, the manufacturer might have no obligation to refund the purchase or provide a new vehicle.

Another factor that might lead to manufacturers not being held liable for refund or replacement is when owners allegedly neglect repairs, treat the vehicle poorly or make unauthorized customizations. A car owner might argue that another vehicle held up to similar conditions, but the court might still decide the manufacturer is not liable.

What To Do If You Bought a Lemon

The first important step is to immediately report the incident to the relevant parties. Most drivers contact the dealership they purchased the vehicle from. Dealers then face legal obligations to notify the manufacturer in writing within seven days. However, drivers can contact manufacturers directly.

The next step is understanding what Lemon Law applies to you or your vehicle. For instance, if you bought your car in New Jersey and registered it there, you might not qualify for New York’s Lemon Law protections. That said, virtually every state has its own laws in place, though some are more favorable than others.

Ideally, you keep records of all the mechanical work done on your vehicle. If you do not, but you’ve been going to the same mechanic for some time, they might keep records on your vehicle. This is especially common with authorized dealerships and big franchises.

Unfortunately, some might “conveniently” lose some of your records or claim some services never took place, so always keep your own records. Note that even records in a notebook of what you did and when are better than nothing at all. Pay for your repairs with a credit card whenever possible so that you leave a digital footprint.

If the dealership or manufacturer makes it difficult for you to repair your vehicle and you are based in New York, give the Department of Motor Vehicles a call. You should also reach out to our experienced law firm, so we can provide the legal advice and assistance you need as you navigate the case.

When To Contact a Lawyer

The experienced lemon law lawyers at the Schmierer Law Group can review your case and determine what the right approach is before moving forward. This can range from quietly advising you and reviewing documents they might present you with to actively corresponding with the manufacturer and filing claims on your half.

Contact the Schmierer Law Group for more information. We look forward to helping you replace your car, get the repairs you need or receive your refund.

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