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The Massachusetts Lemon Law

Carlos Montenegro
 


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The Massachusetts lemon law is designed to protect customers who have serious defects in their new cars. The state defines a lemon as a vehicle that impairs the use, market value or safety of the vehicle and which has not yet been fixed after a reasonable number of attempts.

This law applies to new cars, motorcycles, cans and trucks bought in Massachusetts from a car dealer for personal or family use. This is valid for one year or 15,000 miles from the original date of delivery whichever comes first. The law does not cover auto homes as well as vehicles used for off-road or business.

Under the law, repair attempts must be done during this period but the manufacturer's final attempt can be done after the term of protection.

For you to take advantage of this law, you have to show specifically how the defect impairs its use, depreciates its market value or endangers those who use it. You must also have a record of at least 3 or more attempts to try and fix the vehicle as well as show that nothing has changed.

This means keeping a record of all repair work done and making sure that the problem you have complained about is mentioned in the report.

Before you can ask for a refund or a replacement, you have to give the manufacturer one last chance to try and fix the defect. Once the letter is received, they have to do their part within seven business days. This should be sent by certified mail with a return receipt requested.

If at the end of 7 business days nothing happens, you have the right under the lemon law to get a refund or a replacement. If the manufacturer refuses, it is time to request for an arbitration hearing.

Arbitration is inexpensive and an informal way to resolve a complaint. Here, both sides are given the chance to show evidence about the condition of the vehicle. You can either do this with state run arbitration or manufactured sponsored arbitration.

The difference between the two is that state sponsored arbitration bases its decision on the lemon law standards while the manufacturer does not. You can expect a decision in 45 days for a state sponsored one and another 21 days if the manufacturer decides to appeal while the manufacturer is much shorter. If the decision does not go in your favor, you will not get anything.

You have the right to refuse the manufacturer-sponsored arbitration and then take this matter to court. You should just meet the lemon law requirements so that the judge will easily grant a decision in your favor. Failure to do so could mean fines and penalties which you have to pay for so it is best to consult a lawyer so he or she can begin by writing a demand letter to the manufacturer.

When you have the lemon law on your side, you are hoping to get a refund or a replacement vehicle. For those who want a refund, this means the full purchase price including all credits and allowances for any trade in vehicle but part of it will be deducted based on the vehicle's price and mileage. If you get a replacement, this is usually of similar model and make. You will also be reimbursed of transfer of registration fees, sales tax, unreimbursed towing and rental charges.

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