Lemon Laws in New Jersey
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New Jersey has two lemon laws, one for new vehicles and one for used vehicles, to protect drivers from recurring defects that impair the safety, use, or value of the vehicle. If deemed a lemon, drivers of new or used vehicles may be entitled to a refund of replacement, so long as the manufacturer has had a reasonable number of attempts to fix a problem, but has failed to do so.
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To learn all you need to know about New Jersey’s lemon laws, keep reading!
What is a lemon law?
Lemon laws are designed to help drivers with vehicles that have recurring defects that hinder its safety, use, or value.
In general, if a vehicle has been deemed a lemon after the manufacturer has had multiple unsuccessful attempts to fix the issue in question, the driver may be offered a full refund or a replacement vehicle. That being said, lemon laws vary among states, and not all vehicles are covered.
MORE: Types of insurance
Is there a lemon law in New Jersey?
Yes, New Jersey has lemon laws for both new and used vehicles—for new vehicles, the lemon law covers the following vehicles that are bought or leased and registered in-state:
- Passenger cars
- Emergency vehicles
- Motorhomes (not living quarters)
Keep in mind, New Jersey’s lemon law for new cars do not cover any commercial vehicles.
Also, if a used car is less than two years from its original delivery date, and has less than 24,000 miles on its odometer, it will qualify under the lemon law for new vehicles.
Key Takeaway Some used cars, such as those with less than 24,000 miles driven or less than two years from their original delivery date, can qualify for coverage under New Jersey’s lemon law for new cars.
Is my defect covered under the lemon law?
In New Jersey, a defect must seriously hinder a vehicle’s safety, value, or use to be covered under the state’s lemon law. A vehicle qualifies if it meets either of the following conditions:
- The manufacturer has attempted two unsuccessful repairs on the same problem
- The vehicle has been inoperable for more than 20 days with a recurring issue or multiple issues, and those issues still exist
- If the defect is serious or life-threatening, only one unsuccessful repair attempt is required before a driver can seek relief under New Jersey’s lemon law
Are used cars covered under the lemon law?
Yes, in New Jersey, used passenger cars are covered under the lemon law, but they have to fit certain criteria.
To qualify, a used car must be under seven years of model age, have been purchased for no less than $3000, have no more than 100,000 miles on their odometers, and have been purchased from a licensed dealer.
New Jersey’s lemon law for used vehicles does not cover the following:
- Commercial vehicles
- Vehicles still under manufacturer’s warranty
- Leased vehicles
- Vehicles sold privately
- Drivers who buy out leased vehicles
- Vehicles deemed a total loss
- Salvaged vehicles
- Flood-damaged vehicles
Is my defect covered under the lemon law?
New Jersey’s lemon law for used cars covers the following components:
- Automatic transmission
- Manual transmission
- Front-wheel drive
- Rear wheel drive
In order to be considered a lemon, a used car must meet the following thresholds:
- If a covered part has undergone at least two unsuccessful repairs for the same issue and remains a problem
- The car has spent 20 days or more in a repair facility due to a recurring problem or multiple problems
If your car meets either of these thresholds, you may be able to pursue relief under New Jersey’s lemon law for used cars.
New Jersey’s used car lemon law applies to passenger cars only.
What about new cars?
New Jersey’s laws cover new passenger cars, motorcycles, emergency vehicles, and motorhomes (not living quarters).
How to pursue your lemon law rights in New Jersey
To pursue your lemon law rights for a defective new car, you’ll have to notify the manufacturer in writing of the recurring problem, allow the manufacturer one final attempt to fix the vehicle, and contact New Jersey’s Lemon Law Unit to begin pursuit of relief under the lemon law.
After at least two unsuccessful attempts to fix your car’s defect, notify the manufacturer in writing, via certified mail, informing them of their right to one final attempt to repair the problem before you’ll be able to proceed with a lemon law claim. Do note, the letter must be within the first 24 months of ownership, and within the first 24,000 miles driven.
Upon receipt of your letter, the manufacturer has ten calendar days to successfully fix the problem.
If the manufacturer fails to fix the problem, you can contact the New Jersey Lemon Law Unit to begin your claim for relief. You’ll have to fill out an application and send in copies of all relevant documents relating to the defect, including work orders, invoices, receipts, and any correspondence between yourself and the manufacturer or dealer.
Keep in mind—upon commencement of a lemon law claim, the manufacturer may try to informally settle your case and replace your vehicle. We recommend that you try to resolve the issue here, as arbitration is cheaper and faster than going to court.
If you are not satisfied, you can continue to pursue your lemon law case. In this case, we highly recommend that you hire an attorney, as the manufacturer will have access to a full legal team.
If you win, you’ll receive a full refund as well as coverage for your legal fees.
If you want to claim your lemon law rights for a used, defective passenger car, submit this application to the state’s Lemon Law Unit.
Keep in mind that if you go the legal route, any small mistake on your part could hurt your case. Alternatively, it is possible for you to do everything right and still run into problems with your case.
Key Takeaway Consult a lawyer before pursuing relief under New Jersey’s lemon law, as the manufacturer might not take your claim seriously if you represent yourself.
Lemon law tips
Here are some tips to keep in mind when thinking about pursuing a lemon law case in New Jersey:
- Always keep complete and accurate records of any car repairs, especially if you bring your car in repeatedly with the same issue—these records will bolster your case if you need to make a lemon law claim.
- Remember to describe your car’s problem in the same way if you are bringing it in multiple times; this will help you prove that you were dealing with a defective vehicle that needed repeat attention for the same issue.
- Always take your vehicle to manufacturer-authorized repair shops when your car requires service. Taking your car to an unauthorized body shop, or making repairs yourself, may void your warranty and jeopardize your lemon law rights.
- If New Jersey’s lemon law does not apply in your case, you should look into the Federal Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act.
Finding cheap car insurance
No driver ever wants to make a lemon law claim, and hopefully, you’ll never have to. But no matter what car you drive, you’ll need car insurance if you’re driving in New Jersey.
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