Could the NJ lemon law help you resolve your car issue? If you have purchased a defective new automobile or motorcycle, understanding if the lemon law of New Jersey applies to you could be the first step toward receiving compensation. The term lemon law refers to vehicles that are defective or develop issues even after numerous repairs.
New Jersey lemon laws have been established to protect consumers. Different states have different laws pertaining to if a vehicle qualifies as a lemon. Below you’ll find a summary of the New Jersey lemon law, what you should do if you think your car is a lemon, and lemon law resources.
One of the main things to consider as to whether the NJ lemon law applies to your case is whether your vehicle is new vs. used. A majority of lemon law state statutes apply only to new cars. However, some states do have provisions under their lemon laws for used cars.
The issue is specifically linked to your vehicle’s warranty. New cars are sold with vehicle warranties that specify coverage for a specified number of miles or months. It is under the umbrella of this warranty that the lemon law generally applies. Because New Jersey does not have specified lemon laws for used cars if you purchased your used car with a warranty, federal lemon laws may apply.
The following are the key aspects of the New Jersey lemon laws. In order for your car to qualify under the lemon law, the following conditions must be met:
• The law covers passenger automobiles or motorcycles leased, purchased or registered in the state, except the living facilities of motor homes.
• The vehicle must have had 3 repair attempts, OR more than 20 calendar days out of service, OR one repair attempt for a serious defect which could cause death or bodily harm.
• The coverage period is 2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
If the above conditions are met, under the New Jersey lemon laws the manufacture or dealer is required to do the following:
• Provide the consumer with a full refund of the purchase price of the original motor vehicle including any stated credit or allowance for the consumer's used motor vehicle, the cost of any options or other modifications arranged, installed, or made by the manufacturer or its dealer within 30 days after the date of original delivery, and any other charges or fees including, but not limited to, sales tax, license and registration fees, finance charges, reimbursement for towing and reimbursement for actual expenses incurred by the consumer for the rental of a motor vehicle equivalent to the consumer's motor vehicle and limited to the period during which the consumer's motor vehicle was out of service, less a reasonable allowance for vehicle use.
• For a leased vehicle, the manufacture shall provide the consumer with a full refund of the amount actually paid by the consumer under the lease agreement, including any additional charges as set forth in sub-section a. of this section if actually paid by the consumer, less a reasonable allowance for vehicle use.
First, if you want to possibly make a lemon law claim, keep accurate records. Keep detailed records of all problems, repairs performed, and the amount of time your car is unavailable while repairs are being made. Without these documents, proving your car qualifies as a lemon will be a challenge. If you did not collect documents when problems first arose, ask the dealer for the repair records.
To help you organize your records, click on this link for a repair log: Lemon Law Repair Log
Second, in order to potentially make a claim under the NJ lemon law, you must communicate with the dealer attempting to fix the vehicle that you feel your car qualifies. If the dealer is not complying, contact the manufacturer directly, detailing the problem. When contacting the manufacturer, specifically ask for their procedure for making a lemon law claim.
A final step you can take is to hire a lemon law attorney. The good news is that the lawyer fees are generally free to the consumer. If an attorney who specializes in the New Jersey lemon law loses your case, they don’t get paid. If they win, the manufacturer pays the legal fees. Thus, if you do not feel like the dealer or manufacture has provided sufficient restitution, hiring a lemon law attorney is definitely worth the effort.
If your situation does not fall into the realm of the NJ lemon law, there is another option. Another potential resource is the federal lemon law This statute is called the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. In general it falls under the breach of warranty (BOW) theory. Restitution under this act is different than under than New Jersey lemon law. Instead of reimbursement for the vehicle, restitution is the difference between the Kelly blue book value of the car in excellent conditions vs. good or poor condition.
Again, if you are unclear if the NJ law lemon applies to your situation, a lemon law attorney can be hired at no cost to you to determine if the federal lemon law applies to your case.
If you have specific questions regarding the NJ lemon law, you can also contact the Department of Law and Public Safety at (973) 504-6200.
You can also visit their website at: New Jersey Dept. of Law and Public Safety
The Better Business Bureau also has a printable summary of the New Jersey Lemon Law: BBB Lemon Law State Statutes