Lemon Laws in Iowa

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Iowa’s lemon laws cover new and used cars that have been leased or purchased by a resident of Iowa. The lemon law covers cars for the first two years, 24,000 miles, or when the manufacturer’s warranty expires, whichever comes first.
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What is a lemon law?

Lemon laws
are laws designed to protect consumers from products that are defective, while holding manufacturers financially responsible for amending the situation.
The term "lemon" colloquially refers to automobiles, including cars, trucks, and motorcycles, although it typically applies to any product.
All fifty states and Washington, D.C. have their own variation of lemon laws, including their own limitations and coverages.
A vehicle is considered a lemon if it has a manufacturer’s defect that can’t be repaired satisfactorily in a reasonable period of time, and the vehicle is still under the manufacturer’s warranty.
The "reasonable period of time" varies depending on the state. If the vehicle can’t be fixed, the manufacturer, not the dealership, is required to buy the car back or replace the car with a new one so that the consumer isn’t stuck footing the bill for a vehicle they can’t use.

Is there a lemon law in Iowa?

Yes, Iowa’s lemon law covers new and used cars.

Is my defect covered under the lemon law?

Iowa’s lemon laws cover defects found in motor vehicles leased or purchased by a resident of Iowa for use other than resale or sublease. Lemon law coverage only applies to current residents of the state of Iowa.
Your vehicle could be considered a lemon in the first two years, 24,000 miles, or when the manufacturer’s warranty expires (whichever comes first), your car has met the following criteria:
  • You’ve had to bring it in for repairs three or more times, or the defect could cause injury or death, in which case the manufacturer only has one repair attempt
  • The defect cannot be repaired in less than 30 cumulative days (20 days initially, 10 days after a claim is filed)
  • Your vehicle’s problems are all caused by the same defect
  • The defect was not caused by any neglect, abuse, or alterations on your part
  • The defect is something that is covered under your vehicle’s express warranty
Lemon laws in Iowa exclude motorcycles, mopeds, motorhomes, and any vehicle that exceeds 15,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.
Key Takeaway Iowa’s lemon laws cover residents of Iowa, whether or not the car was purchased in the state is not important.

Are used cars covered under the lemon law?

Yes, Iowa is unusual in that its lemon laws cover used cars.
The caveat is that the car has to be within the manufacturer’s written warranty, the problem has to occur within two years of the car’s initial delivery, or the car has to be driven fewer than 24,000 miles.
Almost all used cars are well outside of these parameters when they’re resold, and that means more often than not, used cars are not eligible for lemon law protection.
For this reason, use your due diligence when it comes to used car shopping. Test drive the car before you buy it.
Make sure to purchase a
or look into the vehicle’s history, including any recalls for the make, model, and year. Have a mechanic evaluate it, if you can.
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What about new cars?

Yes, new cars, excluding motorcycles, mopeds, motorhomes, and vehicles over 15,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, are covered under Iowa’s lemon laws. New fall under the lemon law for up to two years after delivery, or within the first 24,000 miles, or when the manufacturer’s warranty expires, whichever comes first.
If your new car requires the same repair more than three times in that time frame, or if it spends more than 20 days in the shop as a result of the same defect, then your car is considered a lemon.
If you have altered your car in any way since you purchased or leased it, you may no longer qualify for protection under lemon laws.

How to pursue your lemon law rights in Iowa

If you’re looking to pursue your lemon law rights in Iowa, you will need to notify the manufacturer, move to arbitration, and file a lawsuit if necessary.
If your car meets the qualifications of a lemon, you will need to notify the manufacturer. Send them a letter via certified mail.
The manufacturer has one more opportunity to fix the defect within ten days of receiving notice.
If the defect cannot be fixed within ten days, the case will move to arbitration, where you and the manufacturer will discuss the next steps and a satisfactory solution with an arbitrator. We recommend settling the situation here, as arbitration is free and fast.
The manufacturer is bound to whatever decision the arbitrator comes to, but you can file a lawsuit if you’re unsatisfied with the decision.
If you go this route, it’s highly recommended that you hire an attorney who specializes in lemon law, as the whole legal process is tricky and difficult to navigate. Your attorney fees will be covered if you win the case.
Bear in mind that following every step isn’t a guarantee that you will win. Diligence is extremely important, so make sure you have all your bases covered. Records of all the repairs done to your car are required as part of the arbitration and legal process, so keep them on hand.
Key Takeaway Make sure you keep diligent records of all the repairs you make on the car and of any contact you have with the manufacturer.

Lemon law tips

Here are a few things to keep in mind about lemon laws:
  • If you
    modify your vehicle
    in any way, whether by customization, neglect, abuse, or misuse, lemon laws will no longer apply to your car.
  • All repairs should be made through the manufacturer or dealership, or by repair facilities that the dealer has authorized. Keep all of the records of these repairs.
  • Keep your terminology consistent. If you initially referred to the defect as the car "stalling," for example, keep referring to it as "stalling." Don’t change how you refer to the problem, or a manufacturer can argue that the issue does not need to be fixed repeatedly, which is not covered by the lemon law.
  • Lemon laws can vary from state to state, including their requirements. If your situation is not covered by the lemon laws in your state, you may still be protected by the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Talk to an appropriate attorney to find out your options.
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