Lemon Laws in Idaho
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Idaho’s lemon law applies to vehicles up to 2 years old, the term of their warranty, or 24,000 miles of usage. The law doesn’t apply to used vehicles.
When discussing vehicles, the word “lemon” doesn’t refer to a yellow fruit. Instead, a lemon is a broken car with a major defect (aka nonconformity) that makes it unsafe, unusable, or diminishes its market value.
Figuring out you’ve bought a lemon isn’t fun. But good news—the car insurance broker app Jerry is here with everything you need to know about lemon laws in Idaho to make the claims process as easy as possible.
What is a lemon law?
A “lemon” is a car with a significant defect, usually one that makes it unsafe or undrivable.
Lemon laws protect consumers if they buy a lemon and compel the manufacturer to offer compensation or replacement if the vehicle meets the necessary criteria.
While there’s nationwide legislation that applies to these situations, each state has its own set of rules you can look into if you find yourself with a lemon on your hands.
Is there a lemon law in Idaho?
Yes. Idaho lemon laws apply to any motor vehicle under 12,000 pounds that is used for personal, family, or business purposes.
The vehicle must have been purchased and registered in Idaho to qualify for lemon law protection. It must also come with a dealership-provided warranty.
Is my defect covered under the lemon law?
Whether your defect is covered depends on the severity of the problem. If you believe your defect impacts the usability or safety of the vehicle, you must report it to the manufacturer within two years of purchase. The sooner you report the issue, the better.
Idaho state laws require manufacturers to make at least three “reasonable attempts” to fix the defect. If the problem is regarded as life threatening, only one attempt is necessary before lemon law rights kick in.
Here’s the breakdown:
- The same problem must be worked on a minimum of three times within the first two years of purchase for the vehicle to be considered a lemon
- For defects that have severely damaged the steering or braking system and are likely to cause death or serious bodily injury, only one repair attempt is necessary
- If the vehicle is under repair for 30 total business days within the warranty period, it’s considered a lemon
- The law does not cover defects brought about due to bad vehicle management, such as negligence or unauthorized modifications
Key Takeaway If your car has defects that substantially impact its usability or safety, it’s considered a lemon—but you must notify your manufacturer promptly about the issue.
Are used cars covered under the lemon law?
Not officially. While used cars have certain rights, there aren’t any special lemon law provisions to protect them. But given the long warranty period, you still might be covered if you buy a used car.
What about new cars?
Yes. New cars are covered under Idaho’s lemon law as long as they’re less than two years old, operating within the original warranty, or have less than 24,000 miles on the odometer.
How to pursue your lemon law rights in Idaho
To claim your lemon law rights in Idaho, you must first identify any problems and contact your manufacturer. If they aren’t fixed within four reasonable attempts, you can then pursue independent arbitration and perhaps even file a lawsuit.
Report and repair
If you think your vehicle may be a lemon, you have to clearly identify the defect, and be able to justify why it makes the car unsafe. It should be reported to the manufacturer within two years of purchase, but the sooner you report, the better.
The manufacturer is legally required to attempt to fix the issue. In Idaho, they get four “reasonable attempts” on the same defect—or only one if the defect is considered life threatening.
All attempts have to be made on the same problem and within the first two years of ownership or 24,000 miles of usage. Note that you will likely not be driving a broken car 24,000 miles.
If all attempts fail, you must notify your manufacturer that you’re claiming lemon law rights. After that, they get one final shot at fixing the problem.
Unlike some states, Idaho doesn’t legally require arbitration. But some manufacturers either strongly recommend or require that vehicle owners go through the process before they can file a lawsuit.
It’s usually a smart move, anyway, as arbitration is quicker and usually free.
Pursue legal action
If you fail to reach an agreement with your manufacturer, you may then pursue legal action by filing a claim in court.
Lemon law claims are complex legal processes, so you’ll want to hire an attorney. Manufacturers will have good legal representation themselves, so it’s important to put your best foot forward. That means keeping track of all documents and invoices related to the purchasing of the car, as well as any repair attempts that have been made.
A lack of information might not ruin your case, but it will slow everything down and you might not get the full compensation you feel entitled to.
The unfortunate reality is that sometimes it just won’t work out. Even if you have a strong case, you could still lose in court (and that’s what manufacturers are hoping will happen).
Key Takeaway It’s usually best to seek arbitration with your manufacturer before you pursue your lemon law case in court.
Lemon law tips
Here are a few things to keep in mind about lemon laws in Idaho:
- You don’t qualify for lemon law protection if you make significant, unauthorized changes to your vehicle that caused (or could have caused) the damage
- Repair attempts must be made by manufacturers themselves or dealer-authorized mechanics, which makes it easier to keep track of “reasonable attempts”.
- Lemon laws apply to the repeated fixing of one single nonconformity or defect, so make sure you’re consistent with your wording and clarify that the exact same issue hasn’t been resolved each time
- If you fail to come to an agreement with the manufacturer or even lose your court case, there are still other options—check whether the federal Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act might apply
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