Used Car Lemon Law
General Business Law, section 198-b. Sale or Lease of Used Motor Vehicles
a. Definitions. As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:
1. "Consumer" means the purchaser, or lessee, other than for purposes of resale, of a used motor vehicle primarily used for personal, family, or household purposes and subject to a warranty, and the spouse or child of the purchaser or the lessee if either such motor vehicle or the lease of such motor vehicle is transferred to the spouse or child during the duration of any warranty applicable to such motor vehicle, and any other person entitled by the terms of such warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty;
2. "Used motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle, excluding motor homes and off-road vehicles, which has been purchased, leased, or transferred either after eighteen thousand miles of operation or two years from the date of original delivery, whichever is earlier;
3. "Dealer" means any person or business which sells, offers for sale, leases or offers for lease a used vehicle after selling, offering for sale, leasing or offering for lease three or more used vehicles in the previous twelve month period, but does not include:
- a bank or financial institution except in the case of a lease of a used motor vehicle,
- a business selling a used vehicle to an employee of that business,
- a regulated public utility which sells at public auction vehicles used in the ordinary course of its operations, provided that any advertisements of such sales conspicuously disclose the "as is" nature of the sale,
- the sale of a leased vehicle to that vehicle's lessee, a family member of the lessee, or an employee of the lessee, or
- or the state, its agencies, bureaus, boards, commissions and authorities, and all of the political subdivisions of the state, including the agencies and authorities of such subdivisions;
4. "Warranty" means any undertaking in connection with the sale or lease by a dealer of a used motor vehicle to refund, repair, replace, maintain or take other action with respect to such used motor vehicle and provided at no extra charge beyond the price of the used motor vehicle;
5. "Service contract" means a contract in writing for any period of time or any specific mileage to refund, repair, replace, maintain or take other action with respect to a used motor vehicle and provided at an extra charge beyond the price of the used motor vehicle or of the lease contract for the used motor vehicle;
6. "Repair insurance" means a contract in writing for any period of time or any specific mileage to refund, repair, replace, maintain or take other action with respect to a used motor vehicle and which is regulated by the insurance department.
b. Written Warranty required; terms.
1. No dealer shall sell or lease a used motor vehicle to a consumer without giving the consumer a written warranty which shall at minimum apply for the following terms:
- If the used motor vehicle has thirty-six thousand miles or less, the warranty shall be at minimum ninety days or four thousand miles, whichever comes first.
- If the used motor vehicle has more than thirty-six thousand miles, but less than eighty thousand miles, the warranty shall be at minimum sixty days or three thousand miles, whichever comes first.
- If the used motor vehicle has eighty thousand miles or more but no more than one hundred thousand miles, the warranty shall be at a minimum thirty days or one thousand miles, whichever comes first.
2. The written warranty shall require the dealer or his agent to repair or, at the election of the dealer, reimburse the consumer for the reasonable cost of repairing the failure of a covered part. Covered parts shall at least include the following items:
- Engine. All lubricated parts, water pump, fuel pump, manifolds, engine block, cylinder head, rotary engine housings and flywheel.
- Transmission. The transmission case, internal parts, and the torque converter.
- Drive axle. Front and rear drive axle housings and internal parts, axle shafts, propeller shafts and universal joints.
- Brakes. Master cylinder, vacuum assist booster, wheel cylinders, hydraulic lines and fittings and disc brake calipers.
- Steering. The steering gear housing and all internal parts, power steering pump, valve body, piston and rack.
- Alternator, generator, starter, ignition system excluding the battery.
3. Such repair or reimbursement shall be made by the dealer notwithstanding the fact that the warranty period has expired, provided the consumer notifies the dealer of the failure of a covered part within the specified warranty period.
4. The written warranty may contain additional language excluding coverage:
- for a failure of a covered part caused by a lack of customary maintenance;
- for a failure of a covered part caused by collision, abuse, negligence, theft, vandalism, fire or other casualty and damage from the environment (windstorm, lightning, road hazards, etc.);
- if the odometer has been stopped or altered such that the vehicle's actual mileage cannot be readily determined or if any covered part has been altered such that a covered part was thereby caused to fail;
- for maintenance services and the parts used in connection with such services such as seals, gaskets, oil or grease unless required in connection with the repair of a covered part;
- for a motor tuneup:
- for a failure resulting from racing or other competition;
- for a failure caused by towing a trailer or another vehicle unless the used motor vehicle is equipped for this as recommended by the manufacturer;
- if the used motor vehicle is used to carry passengers for hire;
- if the used motor vehicle is rented to someone other than the consumer as defined in paragraph one of subdivision a of this section;
- for repair of valves and/or rings to correct low compression and/or oil consumption which are considered normal wear;
- to the extent otherwise permitted by law, for property damage arising or allegedly arising out of the failure of a covered part; and
- to the extent otherwise permitted by law, for loss of the use of the used motor vehicle, loss of time, inconvenience, commercial loss or consequential damages.
c. Failure to honor warranty.
1. If the dealer or his agent fails to correct a malfunction or defect as required by the warranty specified in this section which substantially impairs the value of the used motor vehicle to the consumer after a reasonable period of time, the dealer shall accept return of the used motor vehicle from the consumer and refund to the consumer the full purchase price, or in the case of a lease contract all payments made under the contract, including sales or compensating use tax, less a reasonable allowance for any damage not attributable to normal wear or usage, and adjustment for any modifications which either increase or decrease the market value of the vehicle or of the lease contract, and in the case of a lease contract, shall cancel all further payments due from the consumer under the lease contract. In determining the purchase price to be refunded or in determining all payments made under a lease contract to be refunded, the purchase price, or all payments made under a lease contract, shall be deemed equal to the sum of the actual cash difference paid for the used motor vehicle, or for the lease contract, plus, if the dealer elects to not return any vehicles traded-in by the consumer, the wholesale value of any such traded-in vehicles as listed in the National Auto Dealers Association Used Car Guide, or such other guide as may be specified in regulations promulgated by the commissioner of motor vehicles, as adjusted for mileage, improvements, and any major physical or mechanical defects in the traded-in vehicle at the time of trade-in. The dealer selling or leasing the used motor vehicle shall deliver to the consumer a written notice including conspicuous language indicating that if the consumer should be entitled to a refund pursuant to this section, the value of any vehicle traded-in by the consumer, if the dealer elects to not return it to the consumer, for purposes of determining the amount of such refund will be determined by reference to the National Auto Dealers Association Used Car Guide wholesale value, or such other guide as may be approved by the commissioner of motor vehicles, as adjusted for mileage improvements, and any major physical or mechanical defects, rather than the value listed in the sales contract. Refunds shall be made to the consumer and lienholder, if any, as their interests may appear on the records of ownership kept by the department of motor vehicles. If the amount to be refunded to the lienholder will be insufficient to discharge the lien, the dealer shall notify the consumer in writing by registered or certified mail that the consumer has thirty days to pay the lienholder the amount which, together with the amount to be refunded by the dealer, will be sufficient to discharge the lien. The notice to the consumer shall contain conspicuous language warning the consumer that failure to pay such funds to the lienholder within thirty days will terminate the dealer's obligation to provide a refund. If the consumer fails to make such payment within thirty days, the dealer shall have no further responsibility to provide a refund under this section. Alternatively, the dealer may elect to offer to replace the used motor vehicle with a comparably priced vehicle, with such adjustment in price as the parties may agree to. The consumer shall not be obligated to accept a replacement vehicle, but may instead elect to receive the refund provided under this section. It shall be an affirmative defense to any claim under this section that:
- The malfunction or defect does not substantially impair such value; or
- The malfunction or defect is the result of abuse, neglect or unreasonable modifications or alterations of the used motor vehicle.
2. It shall be presumed that a dealer has had a reasonable opportunity to correct a malfunction or defect in a used motor vehicle, if:
- The same malfunction or defect has been subject to repair three or more times by the selling or leasing dealer or his agent within the warranty period, but such malfunction or defect continues to exist; or
- The vehicle is out of service by reason of repair or malfunction or defect for a cumulative total of fifteen or more days during the warranty period. Said period shall not include days when the dealer is unable to complete the repair because of the unavailability of necessary repair parts. The dealer shall be required to exercise due diligence in attempting to obtain necessary repair parts. Provided, however, that if a vehicle has been out of service for a cumulative total of forty-five days, even if a portion of that time is attributable to the unavailability of replacement parts, the consumer shall be entitled to the replacement or refund remedies provided in this section.
3. The term of any warranty, service contract or repair insurance shall be extended by any time period during which the used motor vehicle is in the possession of the dealer or his duly authorized agent for the purpose of repairing the used motor vehicle under the terms and obligations of said warranty, service contract or repair insurance.
4. The term of any warranty, service contract or repair insurance, and the fifteen day out-of-service period, shall be extended by any time during which repair services are not available to the consumer because of a war, invasion or strike, fire, flood or other natural disaster.
d. Waiver void.
1. Any agreement entered into by a consumer for the purchase or lease of a used motor vehicle which waives, limits or disclaims the rights set forth in this article shall be void as contrary to public policy. Further, if a dealer fails to give the written warranty required by this article, the dealer nevertheless shall be deemed to have given said warranty as a matter of law.
2. Nothing in this section shall in any way limit the rights or remedies which are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.
3. Notwithstanding paragraph one of this subdivision, this article shall not apply to used motor vehicles sold for, or in the case of a lease where the value of the used motor vehicle as agreed to by the consumer and the dealer which vehicle is the subject of the contract is, less than one thousand five hundred dollars, or to used motor vehicles with over one hundred thousand miles at the time of sale or lease if said mileage is indicated in writing at the time of sale or lease. Further, this article shall not apply to the sale or lease of historical motor vehicles as defined in section four hundred one of the vehicle and traffic law.
e. Time of delivery, location of warranty and notice. The written warranty provided for in subdivision b of this section and the written notice provided for in subdivision c of this section shall be delivered to the consumer at or before the time the consumer signs the sales or lease contract for the used motor vehicle. The warranty and the notice may be set forth on one sheet or on separate sheets. They may be separate from, attached to, or a part of the sales or lease contract. If they are part of the sales or lease contract, they shall be separated from the other contract provisions and each headed by a conspicuous title.
f. Arbitration and enforcement.
1. If a dealer has established or participates in an informal dispute settlement procedure which complies in all respects with the provisions of part seven hundred three of title sixteen of the code of federal regulations the provisions of this article concerning refunds or replacement shall not apply to any consumer who has not first resorted to such procedure. Dealers utilizing informal dispute settlement procedures pursuant to this subdivision shall insure that arbitrators participating in such informal dispute settlement procedures are familiar with the provisions of this section and shall provide to arbitrators and consumers who seek arbitration a copy of the provisions of this section together with the following notice in conspicuous ten point bold face type:
USED CAR LEMON LAW BILL OF RIGHTS
1. If you purchase a used car for more than one thousand five hundred dollars, or lease a used car where you and the dealer have agreed that the car's value is more than one thousand five hundred dollars, from anyone selling or leasing three or more used cars a year, you must be given a written warranty.
2. If your used car has 18,000 miles or less, you may be protected by the new car lemon law.
4. If your engine, transmission, drive axle, brakes, radiator, steering, alternator, generator, starter, or ignition system (excluding the battery) are defective, the dealer or his agent must repair or, if he so chooses, reimburse you for the reasonable cost of repair.
5. If the same problem cannot be repaired after three or more attempts, you are entitled to return the car and receive a refund of your purchase price or of all payments made under your lease contract, and of sales tax and fees, minus a reasonable allowance for any damage not attributable to normal usage or wear, and, in the case of a lease contract, a cancellation of all further payments you are otherwise required to make under the lease contract.
6. If your car is out of service to repair a problem for a total of fifteen days or more during the warranty period you are entitled to return the car and receive a refund of your purchase price or of all payments made under your lease contract, and of sales tax and fees, minus a reasonable allowance for any damage not attributable to normal usage or wear, and, in the case of a lease contract, a cancellation of all further payments you are otherwise required to make under the lease contract.
7. A dealer may put into the written warranty certain provisions which will prohibit your recovery under certain conditions; however, the dealer may not cause you to waive any rights under this law.
8. A dealer may refuse to refund your purchase price, or the payments made under your lease contract, if the problem does not substantially impair the value of your car, or if the problem is caused by abuse, neglect, or unreasonable modification.
9. If a dealer has established an arbitration procedure, the dealer may refuse to refund your purchase price until you first resort to the procedure. If the dealer does not have an arbitration procedure, you may resort to any remedy provided by law and may be entitled to your attorney's fees if you prevail.
10. As an alternative to the arbitration procedure made available through the dealer you may instead choose to submit your claim to an independent arbitrator, approved by the attorney general. You may have to pay a fee for such an arbitration. Contact your local consumer office or attorney general's office to find out how to arrange for independent arbitration.
11. If any dealer refuses to honor your rights or you are not satisfied by the informal dispute settlement procedure, complain to the New York State Attorney General, Executive Office, Capitol, Albany, N.Y. 12224.
2. A dealer shall have up to thirty days from the date of notice by the consumer that the arbitrator's decision has been accepted to comply with the terms of such decision. Provided, however, that nothing contained in this subdivision shall impose any liability on a dealer where a delay beyond the thirty day period is attributable to a consumer who has requested a particular replacement vehicle or otherwise made compliance impossible within said period.
3. Upon the payment of a prescribed filing fee, a consumer shall have the option of submitting any dispute arising under this section to an alternate arbitration mechanism established pursuant to regulations promulgated hereunder by the attorney general. Upon application of the consumer and payment of the filing fee, the dealer shall submit to such alternate arbitration.
Such alternate arbitration shall be conducted by a professional arbitrator or arbitration firm appointed by or under regulations established by the attorney general. Such mechanism shall ensure the personal objectivity of its arbitrators and the right of each party to present its case, to be in attendance during any presentation made by the other party and to rebut or refute such presentation. In all other respects, such alternate arbitration mechanism shall be governed by article seventy-five of the civil practice law and rules.
The notice required by paragraph one of this subdivision, entitled Used Car Lemon Law Bill of Rights, shall be provided to arbitrators and consumers who seek arbitration under the subdivision.
A dealer shall have thirty days from the date of mailing of a copy of the arbitrator's decision to such a dealer to comply with the terms of such decision. Failure to comply within the thirty day period shall entitle the consumer to recover, in addition to any other recovery to which he may be entitled, a fee of twenty-five dollars for each business day beyond thirty days up to five hundred dollars; provided however, that nothing in this subdivision shall impose any liability on a dealer where a delay beyond the thirty day period is attributable to a consumer who has requested a particular replacement vehicle or otherwise made compliance impossible within said period.
The commissioner of motor vehicles or any person deputized by him may deny the application of any person for registration under section four hundred fifteen of the vehicle and traffic law and suspend or revoke a registration under such section or refuse to issue a renewal thereof if he or such deputy determines that such applicant or registrant or any officer, director, stockholder, or partner, or any other person directly or indirectly interested in the business has deliberately failed to pay an arbitration award, which has not been stayed or appealed, rendered in an arbitration proceeding pursuant to this paragraph for sixty days after the date of mailing of a copy of the award to the registrant. Any action taken by the commissioner of motor vehicles pursuant to this paragraph shall be governed by the procedures set forth in subdivision nine of section four hundred fifteen of the vehicle and traffic law.
4. In no event shall a consumer who has resorted to an informal dispute settlement procedure be precluded from seeking the rights or remedies available by law.
5. In an action brought to enforce the provisions of this article, the court may award reasonable attorney's fees to a prevailing plaintiff or to a consumer who prevails in any judicial action or proceeding arising out of an arbitration proceeding held pursuant to paragraph three of this subdivision. In the event a prevailing plaintiff is required to retain the services of an attorney to enforce the collection of an award granted pursuant to this section, the court may assess against the dealer reasonable attorney's fees for services rendered to enforce collection of said award.
6. Any action brought pursuant to this article shall be commenced within four years of the date of original delivery of the used motor vehicle to the consumer.
g. Notice of consumer rights. At the time of purchase or lease of a used motor vehicle from a dealer in this state, the dealer shall provide to the consumer a notice, printed in not less than eight point bold face type, entitled "Used Car Lemon Law Bill of Rights". The text of such notice shall be identical with the notice required by paragraph one of subdivision f of this section.