Lemon Laws in Indiana

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Indiana’s Lemon Laws apply to used and new cars or light trucks that have been purchased from an Indiana dealer within 18 months and have no more than 18,000 original miles on them.
A car is considered a lemon in Indiana if it has what are called "nonconformities," or any specific defects or conditions that impair the use, market value, or safety of the vehicle. And while you can try to pursue compensation for your lemon, you’ll still need car insurance in the meantime.
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Keep reading to learn about Indiana lemon laws and what to do if you purchased a lemon.
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What is a lemon law?

A lemon law is a federal law that protects consumers who purchased faulty consumer goods, especially defective vehicles. Although the lemon law is federal, the rules vary according to state.
Federal and state lemon laws are designed to help and protect car buyers who might unknowingly purchase cars that fail to meet basic quality and performance standards.

Is there a lemon law in Indiana?

Yes, Indiana’s lemon laws cover cars and light trucks that were purchased or leased from an Indiana dealer within the past 18 months. The vehicle in question cannot have more than 18,000 original miles on it.
This means that consumers from other states can be protected by Indiana's lemon laws as long as the car was purchased in Indiana.

Is my defect covered under the lemon law?

A car is considered a lemon in Indiana if it has "nonconformities." Nonconformities are defined as any specific defect or condition or combination that significantly impairs the use, market value, or safety of the vehicle.
The nonconformity in question must also fail to conform to the terms of the warranty.
Indiana’s lemon laws do not cover minor issues with the car, such as a problem with the radio or a little bit of rattling. They also don’t cover any problems caused by the consumer, such as issues stemming from neglect or aftermarket additions to the car.
Key Takeaway Your car may be covered under Indiana’s lemon law if it has a nonconformity that impacts the use, market value, or safety of the vehicle.

Are used cars covered under the lemon law?

Yes, used cars are covered under Indiana’s lemon laws as long as they don’t have more than 18,000 original miles on them.
The laws do not, however, cover any of the following:
  • Motor homes
  • Semi-trucks
  • Conversion vans
  • Road tractors
  • Road-building equipment
  • Farm tractors
  • Motorcycles
  • Mopeds
  • Snowmobiles
  • Other off-road vehicles

What about new cars?

Yes, Indiana’s lemon laws cover new cars.
Keep in mind that you’re on the hook for any car payments while the vehicle is under repair. You must continue to make car payments on the vehicle, even if you decide to file a lemon law claim.
Once you receive settlement funds, you can use those funds to finish paying off the defective car.
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How to pursue your lemon law rights in Indiana

If you’re looking to pursue your lemon law rights in Indiana, you’ll need to report the problem, carefully document any repairs, follow the directions laid out in the owner’s manual or vehicle warranty, and pursue legal action if necessary.

Report and repair

If you suspect that your car is a lemon, you must report the problem within 18 months of the original purchase or before 18,000 original miles, whichever comes first. Then, you need to allow the authorized dealer a reasonable amount of attempts to repair the nonconformity.
A "reasonable" amount of attempts is equal to four repair attempts or 30 business days. Keep a record of any repairs or repair attempts at dealerships or manufacturers—just in case you need to pursue legal action.

Review the owner’s manual or vehicle warranty

If the defect has not been fixed, read through your owner's manual or vehicle warranty. These should tell you whether or not you must give the manufacturer written notice to pursue the lemon law claim.
If written notice is required, you must send written notice of the problem, along with copies of all repair orders, to the manufacturer via certified mail. The manufacturer’s address should be listed in the owner’s manual or vehicle warranty.
If the manufacturer has adopted an informal dispute procedure endorsed by the Attorney General, you must attempt that before proceeding with the lemon law claim.
If notice to the manufacturer is not required, you may continue the lemon law process without informing the manufacturer. At this point, you may return the vehicle for a replacement or refund—your choice.

Consider arbitration

Most manufacturers offer informal dispute settlement procedures, usually known as arbitration. It’s not a bad idea to give this a try before going through with a lemon law claim. Arbitration is typically free and quicker than the usual legal process—and some states may even require that you try arbitration first.
If the car manufacturer doesn’t resolve the claim and less than two years have passed since your first report of the car’s nonconformity, you can file a lawsuit.
It’s a good idea to hire legal counsel if you decide to go this route. The legal system is complex and it’s best not to go it alone. Failing to follow all the steps can result in a weaker, more drawn-out case. Plus, most states require the manufacturer to pay your legal fees if you win.
Of course, even if you follow all the directions perfectly, there are no guarantees that you will win your case. You never know what arguments the manufacturer will present.
Key Takeaway If you run into any problems with your newly purchased vehicle, you need to take it in as soon as possible. Keep a paper trail of any repairs you made on the car and read your car’s owner manual or vehicle warranty if you are thinking of proceeding with Indiana’s lemon law. If you want to pursue legal action, hire an attorney.

Lemon law tips

Here are a few tips to keep in mind regarding lemon laws:
  • Lemon laws don’t apply if you make any modifications to your car or if you damage it through neglect, abuse, or misuse
  • Make sure that you have your car repairs done at an authorized manufacturer or dealership (and hang onto all of your receipts and invoices)
  • When you take your car in for repairs, be careful to use the same wording every time as lemon laws only apply to one repeated problem—if your car keeps stalling, specifically say that your car is stalling each time you visit the shop and ensure that the issue is listed on the work order
  • If the Indiana lemon law doesn’t apply in your case, you might still be protected under the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

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