What can the New York Lemon Law for used cars do for me if I have a lemon used car or motorcycle?
Would you like your money back? If you've got a lemon used car or a lemon used motorcycle, the New York Used Car Lemon Law can make the dealer buy it back if your used car had a failure with the engine, transmission, drive axle, brakes, steering, or cooling or ignition system that was not, or could not, be fixed in a timely manner and the problem substantially impairs the value of the vehicle to you.
What kind of vehicles are covered by New York's used vehicle Lemon Law?
Used cars and motorcycles which have at least 18,000 miles but less than 100,000 miles on it are covered. Vehicles with less than 18,000 miles are covered if the car or motorcycle is more than two years old. Only vehicles bought or leased from a New York dealer are covered and only if the price was at least $1,500. The vehicle also must be used for your personal use. Some used vehicles that are not covered by the New York 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 York so this used vehicle lemon law does not apply to new vehicles.
How long is my used vehicle warranty under the New York Used Car Lemon Law?
When you buy a used car or a used motorcycle in New York 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.
18,001 to 36,000 miles - 90 days or 4,000 mile warranty
36,001 to 79,999 miles - 60 days or 3,000 mile warranty
80,000 to 100,000 miles - 30 days or 1,000 mile warranty
How do I know if I have a lemon under this law?
The dealer is only allowed a limited number of chances to repair problems in your used car or motorcycle. The dealer must repair any problem with the engine, transmission, drive axle, brakes, steering, cooling system or ignition system. 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 or motorcycle in New York is one where: the same defect has been worked on 3+ times and did not get fixed by the end of the third attempt, or it's been out of service for a total of 15+ days because of repairs, although the unavailability of parts may extend this time, but not more than 45 days total. You only have to fit one of the two possible presumption definitions. The used vehicle Lemon Law in New York also requires the dealer to fix any defect in those systems within a reasonable number of attempts. Repairs are free.
I think I have a lemon, so what do I do now?
Start negotiating. Contact the dealer. Write 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 the problem has not been fixed and you meet any one (or more) of the definitions of a lemon used car or a lemon motorcycle, ask them to buy it back. Make notes of everything that you say to them on the phone or in person and what they say to you, so you have a record in case you need it later. If they don't resolve it satisfactory to you, then you may want to complain to the New York Director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs or contact a private Lemon Law attorney near you.
The dealer wants to charge me for my mileage (a "usage fee"), do I have to do that?
No, but it is all negotiable so you can expect they may ask you to do that in order to get a quicker settlement. It's up to you to decide how much you are willing to do.
Should I file for arbitration? What if I don't want to?
You don't have to. Some dealers have a settlement process that is sometimes called "arbitration" and you can use their process if you want and you won't have to hire a lawyer to do it. The state of New York also has a voluntary arbitration process for consumers with lemon used cars or lemon used motorcycles. If you don't want to go through the dealer's "dispute resolution process" (that's also what they sometimes call it) or the state-run process, you don't have to but you should talk to an experienced Lemon Law attorney about the advantages and disadvantages of it. If you aren't satisfied with the offer the dealer makes, or with the result of the arbitration (if you try it), then you should discuss your case with a Lemon Law attorney 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. So how do you get ready for a lawyer? First decide what it is that you want and what the minimum is that you will settle for. Next, get all your paperwork together and write out a diary of everything that happened from beginning to end and then talk with a Lemon Law attorney.
How can I find free info about the New York Lemon Law for used cars and motorcycles?
You can talk to a New York Lemon Law attorney near you. Or for free Used Car Lemon Law information, click on any of the links below.
How do I get 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 will likely be necessary. Your New York 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 York Used Car Lemon Law can help you get rid of your lemon used car or lemon used motorcycle, but you should work with your lemon law attorney closely to get the best result. Here are some more resources you can turn to for more information, answers, and help.
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