How the New Car Lemon Law works in New Jersey
Some vehicles just weren't meant to work. But do you have the patience to put in your own work to get reimbursed?
New Jersey's Lemon Law is considered to be among the best in the country. One can only benefit, though, by actually knowing the rules.
Am I eligible for New Jersey's Lemon Law?
The state's Lemon Law for new vehicles applies to both automobiles and motorcycles, including leased vehicles, as well as portions of motor homes.
You may be entitled to a refund or new vehicle if:
- The new or used vehicle is within two years of its original purchase and 24,000 miles, and
- There's a manufacturer defect that an authorized dealer can't repair after three or more attempts, or the vehicle is in the shop for at least 20 days for problems, and
- That defect substantially impairs the vehicle's use, value and safety
If you can check the box on each of those, then the pressure is on the vehicle manufacturer to prove that the vehicle is not a lemon ... if you open a claim.
How to file a Lemon Law claim in New Jersey
Whether you try to take on the manufacturer on your own, or you hire help, the process is basically free.
"The problem you have is, the car manufacturers don't go alone. They have their lawyers and they'll take their experts," said Bob Silverman, founding partner of Kimmel & Silverman, the state's oldest Lemon Law firm. "If you go yourself, the odds are stacked against you."
Either way, you want to make sure you're keeping solid records of repair attempts on your vehicle, for the eventual paperwork process.
In order to go through the state's arbitration process on your own, you need to first send the manufacturer a "last chance" notice, according to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
"The letter may be sent after two repair attempts for the same defect have failed to fix the problem, or after the vehicle has been out of service for a total of 20 days (45 days for a motor home)," the Division's guide says. "The manufacturer has 10 days from the date on the certified mail return receipt to repair the vehicle."
You need to have proof that the manufacturer received the notice. The letter must be sent by certified mail with a return receipt requested.
Your application would then by reviewed. If it's approved to advance, you'll have to send in a $50 filing fee, which would be reimbursed if you win your case.
Then a hearing date would be scheduled.
Through New Jersey's law, which has been ranked by the Center for Auto Safety as the second best in the country, motorists have the right to cost-free legal representation. Fees are paid by the defendant.
"If you submit your Lemon Law claim and we accept your case, you won't pay anything out of pocket, win or lose," reads the website for Silverman's firm. "These fee-shifting provisions give you – the consumer – equal footing when pitted against a multi-billion dollar automobile manufacturer."