Lemon Laws in New Mexico

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New Mexico
’s lemon laws apply to new vehicles purchased within one year and used vehicles within the first 15 days or 500 miles of use.
In the car world, a lemon refers to a vehicle sold with a major defect that impacts its safety, usability, or market value.
Finding out that you purchased a lemon isn’t fun. We've compiled everything you need to know about lemon laws in New Mexico to make the claims process as easy as possible.

What is a lemon law?

A "lemon" is a car with a significant problem that impairs its ability to function safely.
Lemon laws
protect consumers against the use of lemons, and in specific circumstances, offer the right to compensation or replacement if they purchase a broken vehicle.
While lemon laws work across the country, the regulations vary from state to state.

Is there a lemon law in New Mexico?

Yes. New Mexico’s lemon law applies to cars, trucks, motorcycles, or mopeds used substantially for personal tasks—as long as they’re under 10,000 pounds.
The vehicle must have been bought and registered in New Mexico. Lemon laws do not apply to leased vehicles, but used vehicles can potentially benefit.

Is my defect covered under the lemon law?

To be covered under New Mexico’s lemon law, your defect must significantly impact the safety, usability, or
market value of your car
New Mexico lemon laws compel manufacturers to make four "reasonable attempts" to fix it.
Here’s the breakdown:
  • The car’s specific problem must have been worked on (or attempted to be fixed) at least 4 times
  • If a vehicle is being repaired for at least 30 business days, regardless of the severity of the issue, it’s a lemon under state law
  • The law does not cover defects occurring due to negligence, poor maintenance, or unauthorized modifications
If you have a lemon, you must notify the manufacturer within a year or before the express warranty runs out. The manufacturer then can commence the repair process.
Key Takeaway If your car has defects that significantly affect its use, market value, or safety, it may be considered a lemon.

Are used cars covered under the lemon law?

Yes, used cars are covered under New Mexico’s lemon law.
Unlike most states, New Mexico offers a special provision for used cars, allowing owners 15 days or 500 miles of usage to report if they are sold a lemon. Furthermore, used car dealers have to make minimum quality guarantees about their vehicles.

What about new cars?

New cars are covered under New Mexico’s lemon law—but manufacturers get four attempts to fix the car and the right to arbitration before you can pursue legal action.

How to pursue your lemon law rights in New Mexico

If you want to use your lemon law rights in New Mexico, you must identify the defect(s), report them, pursue arbitration, and then, if necessary, file a claim for a complex legal process.

Report and repair

If you think your new vehicle might be a lemon, you must identify and report it to the manufacturer within the first year of ownership or within the timeline of the express warranty—whichever comes first.
Once you report the defect and the manufacturer deems it a significant nonconformity, they have four "reasonable attempts" to fix it.
Used vehicles undergo a separate process. With only 15 days to define any major defects, used dealers are legally forced to void the transaction and allow you to return the car.

Undergo arbitration

Unlike some states, New Mexico requires that you go through an arbitration process before filing a legal claim.
It’s a smart option, anyway, as arbitration is usually free and less formal than a drawn-out court process. Manufacturers will likely have a series of steps mapped out.
If you still can’t come to an agreement via arbitration—and your car is still broken—then you have the option to file a lemon law claim in court.
Lemon law claims are complex legal processes, so the smart move is to hire an attorney. Most states require that manufacturers reimburse legal fees for a successful claim process.
Remember that manufacturers will have lawyers on their side, too—so you’ll need good representation yourself.
Remember: It’s also important to do everything by the book and as efficiently as possible—from having the right documentation to filing your claim correctly. Failing to do so probably won’t void your claim, but it can weaken your case and make the process longer than it needs to be.
The unfortunate reality is that sometimes it just won’t work out. Even if you do everything correctly and have a strong case, you might not be successful.

Lemon law tips

Here are a few things to keep in mind about lemon laws in New Mexico:
  • Lemon laws don't apply if you’ve made
    unapproved modifications
    to your vehicle or if the problem is a result of mistreatment or poor care
  • Repair attempts must be made with dealer-authorized manufacturers or dealerships—keep it simple and take the car directly to the dealership you purchased the car from
  • Lemon laws only apply to the repeated fixing of a recognizable nonconformity, so keep your terminology consistent each time you bring your car in for repair—don’t change the narrative
  • If your claim is rejected or the law doesn’t apply, you have options—check whether the federal Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act (which has similar provisions to lemon laws) might apply
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