Used-car lemon law: fact sheet

Lemon law program

If you bought or leased a used car that turns out to be defective (a "lemon"), you may be protected by New York's lemon law for used cars.

This law requires a dealer to give you a written warranty. Under this warranty, the dealer must repair any defect in covered parts, with no cost to you.

If the dealer cannot repair the car after a reasonable number of tries, you can request arbitration. You may be entitled to a full refund.

Which used cars are covered by the lemon law? 

The used car must meet all of the following conditions:

  • It was bought, leased, or transferred after 18,000 miles or two years from original delivery, whichever came first. 
  • You bought or leased it from a New York dealer.
  • Its price or lease value was at least $1,500.
  • It had been driven fewer than 100,000 miles when you bought or leased it. 
  • It is used primarily for personal purposes.

How long does the warranty have to be?

The length of the warranty depends on how many miles the car had been driver before you bought or leased it:

If the car had this many miles on it: Then your warranty must cover (whichever comes first):
18,001-36,000 miles 90 days or 4,000 miles
36,001-79,999 miles 60 days or 3,000 miles 
80,000-100,000 miles  30 days or 1,000 miles

Which parts must the warranty cover?

An auto dealer is required by law to provide you a written warranty to covers the following parts:

  • Engine: lubricated parts, water pump, fuel pump, manifolds, engine block, cylinder head, rotary engine housings, and flywheel
  • Transmission: transmission case, internal parts, and torque converter
  • Drive axle: front and rear 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 caliper
  • Steering: steering-gear housing and all internal parts, power steering pump, valve body, piston, and rack 
  • Other parts: radiator, alternator, generator, starter, and ignition system (excluding battery)

What is a "reasonable" attempt to repair a used car?

We say that a dealer has had a reasonable chance to repair a used car if either of the following is true: 

  • The problem continues after three or more repair attempts. 
  • Because the problem has not been fixed, the car does not work for a total of 15 days or more. This period may be longer if the dealer cannot get parts. 

Are there any exceptions? 

In either of the following situations, the dealer may not have to give you a refund:

  • The problem does not substantially lower the car's value to you. 
  • The problem is caused by abuse, neglect, or unauthorized alteration of the car. 

What should I do if I notice a problem with my used car? 

  • Immediately report a problem with any covered part to the dealer and request necessary repairs. If you notify the dealer within the warranty period, the dealer must make the repair, even if the warranty expires before the dealer can fix the car. 
  • Keep careful records of all complaints and copies of all work orders, repair bills, and correspondence. 

How do I request arbitration?

Complete the form, providing a brief but complete description of your problem. Answer all questions as accurately as you can, especially those about date and mileage. Email the form to or send it by regular mail to:

Office of the New York State Attorney General
Lemon Law Unit
28 Liberty Street
New York NY 10005