New Car Lemon Law

The New Car Lemon Law covers motor vehicles (including passenger cars, minivans, pick-up trucks, SUVs and motorcycles) that are the purchased, leased or registered in New Jersey. The law allows you to take action against the company that made the vehicle, rather than the dealer who sold it. The Lemon Law protects you whether you paid cash or financed the vehicle. If we win your case, the manufacturer must refund the payments you have made on your vehicle, except for an allowance based on the vehicle’s mileage the first time you brought it to the dealer for repairs.

Do I have a Claim under the Lemon Law?

In order to have a claim under the Lemon Law, the following are necessary:

  1. The vehicle must have defects or conditions that substantially impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle, which are called “nonconformities” under the law. The law does not have a list of nonconformities, so it may be difficult to know whether your vehicle’s problem qualifies under the law. So contact the firm for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.

    Some questions to think about: Does your problem prevent you from using the vehicle in a normal, everyday way? Are there times the car is not drivable? If you were to sell your vehicle today, would a buyer be willing to pay the normal resale value for it? Is your vehicle unsafe to drive under certain driving conditions, such as highway driving?

  2. The nonconformity must occur in the first 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. However, you do not have to be the original buyer or lessee to be protected under the law.
  3. The manufacturer or its dealer must have an opportunity to repair the nonconformity within a reasonable time. Generally, as the plaintiff in a Lemon Law case, you must prove that the dealer was unable to repair the vehicle within a “reasonable time.” However, there are ways to shift the burden so that the law presumes the vehicle to be a lemon. Then the manufacturer has to prove that your vehicle is not a lemon. This is a powerful legal difference, so it is important. One part of this process is putting the manufacturer on notice by sending a “Last Chance” letter to the manufacturer by certified mail, return receipt. You can do this yourself, but the wording and timing of the letter is important. The firm can draft a customized letter to send on your behalf.

    Then, there are three ways to show that your vehicle should qualify as a lemon.

    1. You have brought your car to the dealer to repair substantially the same “nonconformity” at least three times, and the problem still exists. You do not have to go to the same dealership each time.
    2. Your vehicle has been out of service to repair one or more “nonconformities” a total of at least 20 days. For example, the dealer spends 10 days to fix the your vehicle’s transmission. Then a month later, your engine starts to leak oil, and the dealer has the vehicle another 10 days to replace the engine block.
    3. Your vehicle has a nonconformity likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven. Then the dealer gets only one chance to repair the vehicle.

In an important legal case, DiVigenze v. Chrysler Corp., the New Jersey Appellate Court ruled that sending the “Last Chance” letter is required only to obtain the presumption that your vehicle is a lemon. It is not absolutely required to win in court. Additionally, the firm can still file a Lemon Law claim on your behalf even if your vehicle was repaired before the filing date. After all, a vehicle is a large expense, and once your confidence in the vehicle is shaken, you may not want to drive it anymore, even if the vehicle is eventually fixed.

New Jersey has many car dealerships. Whether you got your vehicle from a dealer on Route 46 in Totowa, from a dealership in Union County on Route 22, along the Route 1 corridor in Edison, or somewhere else, The Law Office of David C. Ricci, LLC, is conveniently located. Contact the firm for a free initial consultation.

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