What to Know About the New York Lemon Law

Jul 13, 2022 by Juan Herrera, Vice President, Dispute Resolution Programs, BBB National Programs

As we continue our blog series reviewing state lemon laws, we turn our attention to the Northeast and examine the New York State of mind for protecting consumers with faulty vehicles. 

True to its reputation for making its own rules, New York includes some distinctive aspects within its lemon laws. For example, wheelchairs and farm equipment have their own lemon laws, as do used cars. In fact, in 1984, New York was the first state in the United States to enact a used-car lemon law. And, as of this writing, the New York State Assembly is considering a bill to expand lemon law protections to commercial and business purchasers. 

In addition, when consumers buy or lease a motor vehicle from an authorized dealer in New York, they must be provided a printed copy of the “New Car Lemon Law Bill of Rights” to ensure they fully understand their entitlements under the law. 

For purposes of this blog, we will focus on the state’s new car lemon law. 

 

What is the New York New Car Lemon Law?

The New York state new car lemon law provides a legal remedy for consumers who are buyers or lessees of new cars and certain “used” cars that turn out to be "lemons." 

In general, if a vehicle does not conform to the terms of its written warranty and the manufacturer or its authorized agent is unable to repair the car after a reasonable number of attempts, a consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement.

 

What vehicles are covered?

The law covers both new and some used cars, including demonstrators, and motorcycles that satisfy all of the following conditions: 

  1. The vehicle was covered by the manufacturer’s express warranty at the time of original delivery; and
  2. The vehicle was purchased, leased, or transferred within the first 18,000 miles of operation or two years from date of original delivery, whichever is earlier; and
  3. The vehicle either (a) was purchased, leased, or transferred in New York state, or (b) is presently registered in New York state.

 

Motor homes are also covered under the law, except for defects that are residential in character. Motor home complaints, however, are subject to special notification and other requirements. Off-road vehicles are not covered. 

Some examples of vehicles that may be covered by the new car lemon law include: 

  • New cars, purchased or leased from a New Jersey dealer and registered in New York;
  • New cars, purchased or leased from a New York dealer and registered in New Jersey;
  • New cars received as a gift from a friend and registered in New York; or
  • Used cars with less than 18,000 miles and less than 2 years old.

 

Who is covered under the New York lemon law?   

Consumers are covered if they are the purchaser, lessee, or transferee of a motor vehicle used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes. The law also covers subsequent transferees of the vehicle. 

 

What problems does the lemon law cover?

The New York lemon law covers any nonconformity (defect or condition covered under the manufacturer’s warranty) that substantially impairs the value of the motor vehicle to the consumer. The law does not cover a defect or condition that is the result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the motor vehicle. 

 

What is the manufacturer’s duty to repair?

With respect to covered vehicles sold and registered in New York, if you notify the manufacturer or its authorized dealer of the defect within the first 18,000 miles of operation or two years from the original delivery date, whichever comes first, the law places a duty on the manufacturer to repair – free of charge and without any deductible – any defect covered by warranty. The manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer must correct the nonconformity at no charge to the consumer, even if the 18,000-miles/two-year period has expired.

If the dealer refuses to make repairs within seven days of receiving notice, you should immediately notify the manufacturer of the problem and that the dealer has refused to make repairs. The manufacturer then has 20 days from receipt of this notice to begin the repairs. If the manufacturer or its agent fails to begin repairs within the 20-day period, then the manufacturer must, at the consumer’s option, either replace or repurchase the motor vehicle.

 

What is considered a “reasonable” number of repair attempts? 

The NY lemon law creates a presumption that a reasonable number of attempts have been made if either of the following occurs: 

  • The same nonconformity has been subject to repair four or more times by the manufacturer or its authorized dealers, but the nonconformity, defect, or condition continues to exist.
  • The vehicle is out of service by reason of repair of one or more nonconformities for a cumulative total of thirty or more calendar days.

 

What is the manufacturer’s duty to replace or repurchase your vehicle?

If the repairs cannot be made under the guidelines outlined, then the manufacturer must either replace or repurchase the motor vehicle at your choice. 

If you elect to receive a replacement, you are entitled to receive a comparable vehicle, meaning a vehicle that is the same year and model with approximately the same mileage as the vehicle being returned. 

If you choose to get a refund, the manufacturer must pay:

  • The full purchase price (cash plus any trade-in allowance); 
  • Fees and charges, including all license fees, registration fees, and any similar governmental charges;
  • Minus a mileage allowance for miles in excess of the first 12,000 miles;
  • Less a reasonable allowance for any damage not attributable to normal wear and tear or improvements. 

 

Dispute resolution - how can BBB AUTO LINE help? 

BBB AUTO LINE is one of the largest and longest-running out-of-court dispute resolution programs in the United States. For the past 40 years, we have helped consumers and businesses resolve vehicle warranty, lemon law, and class action disputes in a hassle-free, timely, and cost-effective manner. 

If you have an unresolved warranty dispute in New York, you have some options.

You can check out the New York State New Car Lemon Law Arbitration Program administered by the New York State Dispute Resolution Association (NYSDRA) under regulations issued by the Attorney General. Decisions under the New York Program are binding on both parties. If you go this route, you are not eligible for the BBB AUTO LINE program.

If you do not pursue the state’s program, you may file a claim with BBB AUTO LINE for possible resolution by mutual agreement with the manufacturer or a non-binding decision made by a neutral arbitrator. To be eligible for BBB AUTO LINE support, your claim must involve one of our participating manufacturers and fall within the eligibility guidelines set forth by that manufacturer’s program.

No matter which path you choose, any action must be commenced within four years of the date of the motor vehicle’s original delivery to the consumer.

To learn more, go to  bbbautoline.org, or call us at 1-800-955-5100. 

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