Lemon Law in Illinois

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Illinois’ lemon law covers new cars purchased or leased in the state—used cars are not covered by the Illinois lemon law. The lemon law is intended to protect Illinois drivers from defects or faults in new cars that are inherent to the vehicle, and which remain unfixed after a manufacturer’s reasonable attempts to do so.
The lemon law does not cover persistent problems stemming from any abuse or modification on the part of the owner.
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To learn everything you need to know about Illinois’ lemon law—a law that you’ll hopefully never have to pursue—read on!
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What is a lemon law?

Lemon laws are designed to protect drivers if they are dealing with a recurring defect or fault on their vehicle, which remains unfixed even after a manufacturer’s multiple attempts to repair it.
In such a case, most lemon laws mandate a driver be compensated by either a refund or a replacement car, usually of a similar make and model.
Drivers’ lemon law rights don’t last forever—most provide coverage for a certain amount of time after delivery, or a certain number of miles driven, whichever comes first.

Is there a lemon law in Illinois?

Yes, Illinois’ lemon law is formally known as the New Vehicle Buyer Protection Act and it protects new cars bought and leased under warranty in the state.
It also covers new light trucks and vans under 8000 pounds, RVs, and eligible vehicles in the first 12 months of ownership or 12,000 miles driven, whichever comes first.
The Illinois lemon law does not cover used cars, motorcycles, modified vehicles, or boats.

Is my defect covered under the lemon law?

In Illinois, a vehicle is considered a lemon if it meets three conditions:
  • The vehicle has an inherent defect that significantly affects its safety, use, or market value
  • The vehicle remains unrepaired after a manufacturer is given reasonable attempts (four or more tries) to fix it
  • The vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 business days or more
Here are some of the most common defects used to pursue a claim under Illinois’ lemon law:
  • Engine problems
  • Foul odors that don’t go away with time
  • Brake defects
  • Faulty airbags
  • Transmission issues
  • Faulty seat belts
  • Battery dying
  • Leaks from the fuel injection system
  • Power steering problems
  • Abrupt deceleration or acceleration
Key Takeaway Persistent problems stemming from an accident or from the owner’s misuse, neglect, or modifications are not covered under the Illinois lemon law.

Are used cars covered under the lemon law?

Used cars are not covered under the Illinois lemon law.
Owners of used cars with nagging problems can pursue relief under the federal Magnuson Moss Federal Warranty Act.
Based on this act, used cars are sold with an implied warranty that assumes the seller’s knowledge of this. If you are having consistent issues with your used car, it may be a good idea to consult with a lawyer and inquire about pursuing redress under this federal law.

What about new cars?

Yes, new cars are protected under Illinois’ lemon law.
It also covers new trucks and vans under 8000 pounds, RVs, and other eligible vehicles.
Key Takeaway Used car owners don’t qualify for coverage under the Illinois lemon law, but they can seek relief under the federal Magnuson-Moss Federal Warranty Act.
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How to pursue your lemon law rights in Illinois

If your car has an unresolved, recurring issue and the manufacturer has tried to fix it at least four times, you can pursue your lemon law rights in Illinois by seeking redress through your manufacturer’s Industry Third-Party Resolution Program.
Make sure that you keep a record of all the times you attempted to repair your car. You will need them if you decide to pursue legal action.
You’ll find the contact information for your manufacturer’s representative in your owner’s manual. After making contact, this representative will forward you all the requested information and forms they’ll need from you to get the process started.
If your claim is decided in your favor, you’ll be awarded a replacement car for your lemon, or a full refund, minus costs for the miles driven.
If you lose your claim, you can pursue civil action against the manufacturer. In that case, it is strongly advised to consult with an attorney, as the manufacturer will have an extensive legal team on their side.
Keep in mind that pursuing a lemon law is a legal process, and therefore any small mistakes on your part could hurt your case down the line. That being said, it is possible to do everything right and still lose your case.

Lemon law tips

Here are some tips to keep in mind when thinking about pursuing a lemon law case in Illinois:
  • Always keep records of any visit to the repair shop, including invoices, receipts, and work orders, as they will be important to back up your claim.
  • Remember, you can’t pursue a lemon law claim in Illinois if your car develops problems due to your own modifications to your vehicle, or if any defects or faults are the results of abuse, neglect, or misuse.
  • All repairs on your car should be made with manufacturers, dealerships, or repair facilities that have been authorized by the dealer.
  • When taking a vehicle to a repair shop for the same problem multiple times, be sure to use the same terminology each time—say the battery “dies” each time if you repeatedly can’t start your car, as most lemon laws only apply to repairs needed to fix one problem repeatedly.
  • If you want to pursue a lemon law claim in Illinois, but are unsure of how to proceed, it is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer experienced in pursuing lemon law cases.
  • If Illinois’ lemon law does not apply in your case, you should look into the Federal Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act.
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