What can the New Jersey Lemon Law for used cars do for me if I have a lemon used car?
Would you like a refund of the car's price? If you've got a lemon used car, the New Jersey Used Car Lemon Law can make the dealer buy it back if your used car had a failure with the engine, transmission, or front or rear wheel drive systems that was not, or could not, be fixed in a timely manner and the problem substantially impairs the use or safety or value of the vehicle. But all you get is the price. You don't get any sales tax or title or registration fees.
What kind of vehicles are covered by New Jersey's used vehicle Lemon Law?
Only used passenger cars which have less than 100,000 miles on it, and are less than 8 years old, are covered. Only vehicles bought from a New Jersey dealer are covered and only if the price was at least $3,000. If the car was ever declared a total loss by an insurance company and you were told that in writing before you bought it, then there is no used car lemon law coverage. The vehicle also must be used for your personal use. Some used vehicles that are not covered by the New Jersey Used Car Lemon Law will still be covered by the federal Lemon Law (the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act) as long as the dealer gave the buyer a written warranty of any length at all. Other vehicle types are not covered. New vehicles have their own lemon law in New Jersey so this used vehicle lemon law does not apply to new vehicles.
How long is my used vehicle warranty under the New Jersey Used Car Lemon Law?
When you buy a used car in New Jersey you automatically get a warranty from the dealer - even if the dealer doesn't give you a document that says so. How long is the warranty for? That depends on how many miles were on it when you got it. Here's a chart that explains it.
24,000 miles or less - 90 days or 3,000 mile warranty
24,000 to 60,000 miles - 60 days or 2,000 mile warranty
60,000 to 100,000 miles - 30 days or 1,000 mile warranty
Note however that if the used vehicle has more than 60,000 miles on it, then you may be able to negotiate for a better price if you are willing to sign a document that gives up the used car warranty that you otherwise would get under the law.
How do I know if I have a lemon under the New Jersey Used Car Lemon Law?
The dealer is only allowed a limited number of chances to repair problems in your used car. The dealer must repair any problem with the engine, transmission, front and rear wheel drive systems. If one or more of the following circumstances occurs during the warranty period, then the dealer is automatically presumed to have made a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle, and you've got a lemon. A lemon used car in New Jersey is one where: the same defect has been worked on 3 times and it did not get fixed by the end of the third attempt, or it's been out of service for a total of 20 or more days because of repairs. You only have to fit one of the two possible presumption definitions but the problem must substantially impair the use or value or safety of the vehicle. Repairs are free but the dealer can charge a deductible of $50.
I think I have a lemon, so what do I do now?
The New Jersey Used Car Lemon Law process is hard to understand and process so your best bet is to talk to a Lemon Law attorney near you right away about your options. You can also call the state Lemon Law office at 973.504.6226 and ask for a Lemon Law application. If the dealer refuses to give you a refund, then you have 4 ways to proceed.
A. You can file a case in Court.
B. You can get a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
C. You can have a settlement conference with the Lemon Law Unit's Alternative Dispute Resolution process.
D. Last, if the dealer has its own private arbitration process, you can go through that.
To start any of these off, you may want to write the dealer a short and simple letter, an email, send a fax, make a phone call. Your letter should just say you think you have a lemon, it's their fault, and tell them you want your money back. If they don't resolve it, then you need to contact a private Lemon Law attorney near you immediately.
The dealer wants to charge me for my mileage - do I have to do that?
Yes, the law lets the dealer deduct from you refund a setoff for your personal use of the vehicle using the current IRS business mileage allowance per mile that you put on the vehicle, plus the full cost of any damage to the car. For instance, if the IRS mileage deduction for business use of a vehicle was 50 cents, then that is the amount of your setoff per mile also.
Should I file for arbitration? What if I don't want to?
You don't have to. Some dealers have a "Alternative Dispute Resolution" settlement process that is sometimes called "arbitration" and you can use their process if you want to. You should talk to an experienced Lemon Law attorney about the advantages and disadvantages of it and find out just how strong your case may be. But act quick before you lose your Lemon Law rights.
Do I have to hire a lawyer?
No, but you probably would do better if you did. There have been some studies done and they all come back the same way: you get paid more when you have a lawyer on your side. Why? You have to realize that when you try to negotiate with a car dealer you will be dealing with professional negotiators who are paid to negotiate every day. In a used vehicle lemon law case, the dealer will try to settle with you for as little as they can (and they are hoping it will be nothing at all if they can get away with it). This isn't going to be easy for you. They often tell you what they think the law is and why your case doesn't fit it - and if you don't know the law then you probably don't know how to argue back with them. That is also why you may want an attorney's help in the state Administrative Law Judge process.
How can I find free info about the New Jersey Lemon Law for used cars?
You can talk to a New Jersey Lemon Law attorney near you. Or for free Used Car Lemon Law information, go to http://autopedia.com/html/LemonLaw/NewJersey_NJ_lemonlaw3.html where more information or legal help can be found.
How do I get Used Car Lemon Law help?
Your lemon law lawyer will decide whether to file a lawsuit or attempt to negotiate "pre-suit" (which means without filing a lawsuit). If the dealer doesn't make an offer that you can live with then you can expect that a lawsuit or the state administrative process will likely be necessary. Your New Jersey used car lemon law attorney can discuss the court process with you in detail and tell you how long it may take and what you can expect out of it. Most importantly, you should discuss with your attorney things like your continued use of the vehicle, what to do if more defects arise, the desirability of hiring an independent expert witness, and what you can do to help win you case.
Additional resources provided by the author
The New Jersey Used Car Lemon Law can help you get rid of your lemon used car, but the process isn’t easy to use and it isn’t easy to understand. For the best result, you should work with your lemon law attorney closely. Here are some more resources you can turn to for more information, answers, and help
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