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What to Do When the Lemon Law Limits Have Been Exceeded or Do Not Apply to Your Vehicle

The New York Lemon Law applicable to new and used vehicles is provided under New York General Business Law Sections 198-a (new vehicles) or Section 198-b (used vehicles), et sec.

One of the first steps in analyzing a consumer’s rights against the manufacturer (for new vehicles) or against a dealer (for used vehicles) is to determine whether or not the favorable Lemon Law statutes referenced above are applicable.  The outer time limit is a four (4) year statute of limitations from the date of delivery of the vehicle to the commencement of an action or proceeding under the Lemon Law.  In addition, the following time and mileage limitations need be considered:


NEW VEHICLES: 4 repairs or 30 days out of service within: 18,000 miles or 2 years, whichever comes first.
USED VEHICLES: 3 repairs or 15 days out of service within:

90 days or  4,000 miles for vehicles with 18,001 - 36,000 mile at time of delivery
60 days or 3,000 miles  for vehicles with 36,001 - 79,999 miles at time of delivery
30 days or 1,000 miles for vehicles with 80,000 – 100,000 miles at time of delivery

It is often difficult for a consumer to satisfy the short time and mileage limitations of the Used Car Lemon Law, which does not apply to any used vehicle sold with excess of 100,000 miles.  The question for the consumer and dilemma for the attorney consumer advocate is to determine what, if anything, can be done to assist the consumer with a defective vehicle or expensive repairs that falls outside of the foregoing Lemon Law limits?  The answer depends on the variety of factors including, among others, the following:

In cases of fraud, such as odometer roll backs or tampering or deliberate concealment of material defects or failure to give written required disclosure of prior substantial accidents or otherwise illegally selling a vehicle that cannot pass inspection or is missing required safety equipment such as airbags or inoperative anti-lock braking systems, etc., an action for fraud maybe commenced within the New York six (6) year statute of limitations as well as other claims maybe alleged in the complaint.

Fraud cases are rare and there are many more instances where the consumer purchases a used vehicle and shortly thereafter finds same to be defective or subject to the breakdowns and expensive repairs.  That is the type of situation to which this blog considers.

It is most important to note that the Lemon Law statutes of New York and other states are not an exclusive remedy, but rather additional protection afforded to a consumer / purchaser of a car, motorcycle, motor home, all terrain vehicle or motorized wheelchair, which can include breach of contract and breach of express and / or implied warranties under various statutes.  Under Federal Law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act can assist purchasers of vehicles that may otherwise not qualify under the Lemon Law, such as instances of vehicles used for commercial rather then personal uses or beyond the above-stated time and mileage limitations.  That is a complex topic that is beyond the scope of this blog.

It is also important to note that under the Uniform Commercial Code, Article 2 Sale of Goods, there are various express and implied warranties applicable to sellers and / or merchants and it is likewise important to distinguish between an individual or casual seller and a merchant, since the implied warranties under the Uniform Commercial Code only apply to those sellers those who are found to be merchants under the statute.  The implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for particular or ordinary purposes are very helpful to consumers who otherwise do not qualify under the Lemon Law Statutes or where short warranties have expired.


©2012  Anthony T. Ballato, Esq. (516) 541-9080