The New Jersey Lemon Law is a comprehensive statute that protects consumers against defective and unfix-able vehicles. The law was made to create a course of action for consumers who paid a large amount for a car that does not perform as expected.
Many purchasers of vehicles do not realize the protections of the NJ Lemon Law and end up putting with defective cars and trucks. In fact, the statute put in place allows for a consumer to receive a full refund for the price paid of the vehicle, plus any finance charges. Essentially, the Lemon Law allows a consumer to walk away from a vehicle loan like the transaction never took place.
On this page we will discuss the requirements to qualify for protection under the NJ Lemon Laws. We will also talk about the remedies available under the statute. Finally, we will cover how to file your claim. The goal of this page is to teach consumers the protections they are afforded under the statute and perhaps save people a lot of money and aggravation.
Requirements to Qualify under the NJ Lemon Law
Most people get frustrated when their newly purchased car experiences problems. However, it is important to note that not every vehicle issue is covered under the New Jersey Lemon Law. In fact, it is not uncommon for new vehicle owners to experience a small problem after driving off the lot. One must consider the complexity of a car, truck, or SUV. It should be noted, however, that any issues with a new car should be resolved promptly and not require more than two trips to the dealership.
What is considered a lemon car in NJ?
A car is considered a lemon under the statute if one of the following two factors are met:
- A vehicle has been serviced twice and the issue has not been resolved.
- A vehicle has been out of service for more than 20 consecutive days due to repairs.
Additional Qualification Provisions
The vehicle should only be serviced by the dealership where it was purchased or a facility authorized by the manufacturer. If one decides to bring the vehicle to a private mechanic for service, the car’s warranty along with the protection afforded by the statute are voided.
The car or truck needs to stay in the owners possession to qualify under the state statute. This means that if one decides to trade in or sell the vehicle or the automobile is repossessed before the case is settled, they would not qualify for consumer protection.
A vehicle only qualifies for the state statute if:
- The vehicle has less than 24,000 miles AND
- The vehicle was purchased less than 2 years ago
How do I prove that I have a lemon car?
As we covered earlier, an issue that is promptly resolved does not make the car a failure. A consumer needs to be inconvenienced and generally the auto needs to be serviced more than twice to qualify.
Keep detailed documentation.
- Keep all documentation and service records for the vehicle.
- Make sure all service records provided by the dealer are thorough and cover all complaints. If the dealership does not make mention in their notes, the conversation never happened. If you hire an attorney or file a claim, this documentation will be requested.
- Keep a record for all correspondence with the dealership and/or automobile manufacturer. Make a note of what the conversation was about, who you spoke with
Don’t stop servicing the vehicle.
The more an automobile is brought in for service, the more obvious a complaint under the NJ Lemon Law will be. Some people understandably become fed up with going in circles trying to get the vehicle fixed. Always keep bringing the vehicle back to be fixed unless your attorney tells you otherwise.
Every time the auto is brought into the dealership, you will receive a service record which is vital to proving your claim.
Follow all proper procedures under the warranty.
Manufacturers of automobiles require repairs to be made at authorized centers. Do not bring the vehicle to a third party repair shop as this will void your warranty and claim under the statute.
Remedies under the Lemon Law in NJ
The statute spells out the remedies a consumer is eligible for in the statute. In most cases, a qualifying automobile claim entitles the purchaser to a full refund of the vehicle.
When a automobile owner wins their case, they are also entitled to receive:
- Reasonable attorney’s fees.
- Towing costs associated with the defective vehicle.
- Costs of vehicle rental while the car is out of commission.
- Expert witness costs associated with the case
It is notable that cost for vehicle usage will be deducted from any final reward. This is determined by multiplying the purchase price of the vehicle by how many miles are driven, and then dividing that number by 100,000.
How to file a lemon car claim in NJ
There are two ways a few different ways to file a claim under the statute. We will cover all of them below.
1. Hire a lawyer
It is recommended to hire a lawyer to fight your case for you. The statute allows a consumer to recover all attorney fees with their claim. Dealing with the lemon law yourself can be time consuming.
The automobile manufacturer will hire an expensive law firm to fight your case. Many consumers are not very familiar with the legal system. A qualified attorney will fight for your rights and ensure you receive just compensation.
It should be noted that although the statute allows a auto owner to recover attorney’s fees, many cases never make it through the entire court process. The manufacturer will want to settle the case to save money. They will also drag the case through the courts. Until your case is resolved, you must retain possession of the vehicle. An attorney may advise you to take a settlement before the case makes it all the way through the courts.
2. File a complaint with the NJ Consumer Affairs Agency
While the court system is a possible avenue for resolution, complaints may be resolved through the administrative body specified by the statute. Before filing a complaint, a consumer must send a certified letter to the manufacturer demanding them to resolve the problem.
After the certified letter is sent, one can file a complaint with the NJ Consumer Affairs Agency, a consumer must download the application and send the following paperwork in:
- A copy of the certified letter sent to the manufacturer
- The certified mail receipt
- All repair documentation provided by the dealership
- The registration for the vehicle
- The purchase contract and finance documentation
- Any receipts for towing and rental car expenses
While it is possible to file an application yourself, most people are better off hiring a lawyer. A qualified attorney will handle all paperwork for you and cost you nothing. Additionally, a good law firm will handle all expenses for the case and receive compensation for them at the completion of the case.