What Does the Massachusetts Lemon Law Cover?

Man in shirt and tie looks under hood of broken down car

The Massachusetts Lemon Law is designed to provide protection for consumers who purchase vehicles with substantial defects that impair safety or the ability to drive. Whether the vehicle is new or used, if it has not been successfully repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, it may qualify for relief under this law.

Understanding the Massachusetts Lemon Law

The Massachusetts Lemon Law, also known as the Used Vehicle Warranty Law, is aimed at assisting individuals who find themselves with a vehicle that is deemed a “lemon.” According to the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR), a vehicle may be considered a lemon if it has a substantial defect that impairs driver safety, drivability, or impacts its market value. If the defect remains unresolved after a reasonable number of attempts, the Lemon Law covers the vehicle.

The Lemon Law provides various benefits, such as vehicle repurchase or replacement. The specific amount of refund or reimbursement depends on factors like mileage, contract price, lease amount, and more. It is important to note that Lemon Law coverage extends to vehicle purchasers, lessees, and individuals entitled to the terms of the warranty.

Scope of Coverage

The Massachusetts Lemon Law applies to both new and used vehicles. New cars, motorcycles, vans, and trucks purchased from a licensed dealer are eligible if they have at least one significant defect discovered and repair attempts are made within one year or 15,000 miles of purchase. Used vehicles are covered by the Lemon Law if they were sold by a Massachusetts dealer or private party, cost at least $700 (for dealer sales), and had fewer than 125,000 miles at the time of purchase (for dealer sales).

However, it’s important to note that certain used vehicles, including motorcycles, mopeds, dirt bikes, leased vehicles, auto homes, and off-road vehicles, are not covered by the Lemon Law. Similarly, vehicles used for business purposes, whether new or used, are also excluded.

If a vehicle falls within the Lemon Law’s coverage and the nonconformity remains unresolved after a reasonable number of attempts, consumers may be eligible for Lemon Law benefits.

Drawing of vehicle with lemon slices as wheels on a hydraulic lift

The Lemon Law defines a “reasonable number of attempts” as at least three unsuccessful repair attempts by the manufacturer, its agent, or an authorized dealer. Additionally, if the vehicle is out of service for a cumulative total of 15 business days, it is also considered a reasonable attempt to fix the issue.

After a consumer has made a reasonable number of attempts to resolve the problem, the manufacturer is given a final opportunity to fix the issue. This final attempt cannot exceed seven business days, and the countdown begins from the day the manufacturer is informed that the reasonable number of attempts requirement has been met.

Once these conditions are met, consumers are eligible to file a claim for the remedies offered by the Lemon Law or request arbitration through the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation New Car Arbitration Program. Claims must be submitted within 18 months from the vehicle’s original delivery to the customer.

Does the Lemon Law Cover Failed Inspections?

In addition to covering vehicles with serious defects, the Massachusetts Lemon Law also extends its coverage to vehicles that fail inspections within seven days of purchase.

If a vehicle fails an inspection within the first week of purchase, the vehicle owner has the right to void or cancel the sale. Inspections must be conducted by licensed Massachusetts inspection stations.

To benefit from this provision, the repairs required for the vehicle must exceed 10% of the vehicle’s purchase price or be related to safety. For example, if a vehicle costs $20,000 and an initial inspection reveals that it needs a transmission replacement costing $2,200, the owner can return the vehicle under the Lemon Law.

To initiate the inspection refund process, consumers must obtain a written statement from the inspection station detailing the reasons for the failed inspection and a cost estimate for the required repairs. With this documentation in hand, consumers must formally notify the vehicle seller of their intention to cancel the purchase agreement under the Massachusetts Lemon Law. This notification should be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested, regular mail, and email, and should include copies of the documentation provided by the inspection station.

After following these steps, consumers can return the “lemon” vehicle to the seller. If the seller refuses to accept the return, obtaining a notarized statement confirming the attempted return is recommended.

Does the Lemon Law Cover Private Party Purchases?

Yes, the Massachusetts Lemon Law covers used cars purchased from private parties. Private party sellers are required to disclose any known defects that may affect safety or impair the use of the vehicle. If a buyer discovers a defect within 30 days of purchase and can prove that the seller was aware of it but failed to disclose it, they have the legal right to cancel the sale.

In the event of a refund, sellers are permitted to deduct 15 cents for every mile driven since the purchase date.

It’s worth noting that private party sellers are not obligated to make repairs to vehicles that have already been sold, unlike car dealerships, which are required to address defects that affect vehicle use and occupant safety.

Counting Days During the Warranty Period

To be eligible for a refund, if a vehicle is at the dealership for repairs or if the dealership unreasonably refuses to complete repairs for at least 11 business days during the warranty period, consumers can take advantage of the Massachusetts Lemon Law. A business day in Massachusetts is defined as Monday through Friday, excluding state and federal holidays. Even if a vehicle is without service for only a portion of a business day, it counts as a full day for the warranty period.

In conclusion, the Massachusetts Lemon Law provides consumers with protection against substantial defects in new and used vehicles. By understanding the scope of coverage and following the appropriate steps, consumers can exercise their rights and seek the remedies offered by the Lemon Law.

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