Are you beginning to think that used car you bought might be a lemon? If you the used car or truck you just purchased has defects that cannot be repaired, you may get relief under New Jersey's Used Car Lemon Law. To learn more about New Jersey's Used Car Lemon Law and what your rights as a consumer are, read on to learn more.
(If you think your new car is a lemon, see New Jersey Lemon Law for New Cars.)
The New Jersey Used Car Lemon Law
The Used Car Lemon Law protects consumers who purchase used cars from New Jersey licensed car dealerships. It requires:
- that a used car dealer provide a consumer with a warranty, the length of which depends on the used car's mileage, and
- that a car dealer repair any defective or malfunctioning part of the used car which is covered during the warranty period.
Which Vehicles Are Covered?
The law covers used passenger cars, purchased from a licensed car dealership, which are seven model years old or less. The purchase price of the car must be at least $3,000.00 and the mileage cannot be more than 100,000 miles at the time of purchase.
Which Vehicles Are Not Covered?
The New Jersey Used Car Lemon Law specifically excludes the below cars from protection.
- used cars sold for less than $3,000.00
- used cars which are more than seven model years old
- salvage vehicles
- a used car that has more than 100,000 miles on its odometer
- a used car that was not purchased from a car dealer, but from a private seller
- motorcycles, off-road vehicles, motor homes, and commercial vehicles
- leased vehicles
- a used car that is still covered by a manufacturer's warranty
- a used car with 60,000 or more miles where the warranty has been waived and the car is sold "as is"
- a used car that has been modified, abused, or not maintained by the consumer.
Length of the Warranty
If your vehicle satisfies the above requirements, the car dealer must provide you with a warranty. The length of the warranty will depend on the used car's mileage.
- If a motor vehicle has 24,000 miles or less on its odometer, the car dealer must provide you with a warranty for 90 days or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.
- If a motor vehicle has more than 24,000 miles, but less than 60,000 miles on its odometer, the car dealer must provide you with a warranty of 60 days or 2,000 miles, whichever comes first.
- If a motor vehicle has between 60,000 and 100,000 miles on the odometer, the car dealer must provide you with a warranty for 30 days or 1,000 miles, whichever comes first.
It is important to note that in negotiating a better price for a used car, you may waive your right to a warranty, but in order to do so, the vehicle must have more than 60,000 miles on its odometer and the waiver must be in writing.
Which Car Parts Are Covered?
The New Jersey Used Car Lemon Law requires a car dealer to correct a "material defect" of a covered item of the used car if the defect occurred during the warranty period. A material defect is defined as, "a malfunction of a used motor vehicle, subject to the warranty, which substantially impairs its use, value or safety."
The covered parts include:
- Engine. All internal lubricated parts, timing chains, gears and cover, timing belt, pulleys and cover, oil pump and gears, water pump, valve covers, oil pan, manifolds, flywheel, harmonic balancer, engine mounts, seals and gaskets, and turbo-charger housing (Housing, engine block, and cylinder heads are covered only if they are damaged by the failure of an internal lubricated part.)
- Transmission Automatic/Transfer Case. All internal lubricated parts, torque converter, vacuum modulator, transmission mounts, seals, and gaskets.
- Transmission Manual/Transfer Case. All Internal lubricated parts, transmission mounts, seals and gaskets (excluding manual clutch), pressure plate, throw-out bearings, clutch master, or slave cylinders.
- Front-Wheel Drive. All internal lubricated parts, axle shafts, constant velocity joints, front hub bearings, seals, and gaskets.
- Rear-Wheel Drive. All internal lubricated parts, propeller shafts, supports and U-joints, axle shafts and bearings, seals, and gaskets.
If you suspect that your used car has a defect, you must notify the car dealer right away and be sure to keep a complete record of your receipts and communications with the car dealer. You will be responsible for paying a $50 deductible for each repair of each covered item.
Is Your Used Car a "Lemon"?
Under the law, you must allow a car dealer a "reasonable amount of time" to repair or correct the defect. A used car will be deemed a lemon only if:
- the car dealer has been unable to fix the used car after three attempts, and/or
- the car has been out of service for a total of 20 cumulative calendar days for a single problem or a series of problems. You must also, after the second failed attempt to repair or after 20 cumulative calendar days has elapsed, send a letter to the car's manufacturer by certified mail notifying it of the defect and giving the manufacturer a final chance to correct the problem.
You must also be able to prove that the car's defect substantially impairs its use, value, or safety.
What Are Your Rights If You Have a Lemon?
If the car dealer cannot repair the defect, the dealer must, at your option, replace or refund the full purchase price of the car (less sales taxes, title and registration fees, and a reasonable deduction for excessive wear and tear and personal use of the car).
If the car dealer refuses to replace or refund the full purchase price of the used car you may be eligible for relief under the Lemon Law. You can:
- Request a Lemon Law hearing through the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs dispute resolution program
- File a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, or
- Try to work something out through the dealer's informal dispute resolution program (if it has one).