Massachusetts Lemon Aid Law
Vehicle Inspection And Registration Requirements
By law, sellers of used vehicles must remove inspection stickers prior to transferring the vehicle to the new owner. Motor vehicle inspection stickers are not transferable to a new owner. When you buy a used car, you must bring the car to a licensed Massachusetts Inspection Station within seven days of registering it. In order to be protected by the Lemon Aid Law, however, you will need to have it inspected within seven days of purchase. For your own protection, do not allow the dealer to do the inspection for you.
If Your Car Will Not Run
Cars that do not run automatically fail inspection. To be eligible for a refund under the Lemon Aid Law, you must demonstrate that the estimated cost of repairs for safety or emissions related defects (and not the problem that is keeping the car from being inspected) is more than 10% of purchase price. Proving this may be difficult because it requires that a mechanic locate the problems and estimate the cost of repairs for these defects.
How To Receive Your Refund
In order to obtain a refund, the vehicle must be inspected and rejected by a licensed Massachusetts Inspection Station within 7 days of purchasing it. The rejection cannot be caused by your negligence, abuse or an accident occurring after the date of sale. In addition, you must complete all of the following steps within 14 days from the date of sale:
- Get a written statement, signed by an authorized agent of the inspection station, stating the reasons why the vehicle failed to pass the safety or combined safety and emissions inspection test.
- Obtain a written estimate of the costs of the necessary emissions or safety repairs showing that those costs exceed 10% of the purchase price.
- Notify the seller of your intention to void the contract under this statute ( M.G.L. c. 90, §7N). Do this by certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail. Enclose a copy of the documents listed in Steps 1 and 2. Be sure to save copies for your files.
- Deliver the car to the seller, even if delivery requires towing services. It is advisable to take a witness with you and copies of the documents listed in Steps 1, 2, and 3. If the seller refuses to accept the car, prepare a statement indicating that you and a witness delivered the car to the seller on that date, but that the seller refused to accept the car. Be sure the statement is signed by both you and your witness in the presence of a notary public.
If you comply with these provisions, you are entitled to a full refund of the purchase price. You and the seller may agree in writing to have the seller do the necessary emissions or safety-related repairs at the seller’s expense. You may, however, refuse the seller’s offer and accept a full refund.
If You Paid For a Title
Contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles Title Division at (617) 351-9550. Explain that you are returning the vehicle to the seller under the Lemon Aid Law, and that you are requesting that a certificate of title be issued to you as soon as possible. When you receive the title, you should assign and transfer it back to the seller. If the seller refuses to accept the title, then send it by certified mail and retain a copy for your records.
If You Paid Sales Tax and Registration Fees
Take the following steps immediately to ensure you receive a rebate:
Sales Tax: Fill out an abatement form available from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue Taxpayer Service Division, P.O. Box 7010, Boston, MA 02204, (617) 887-6367.
Registration Fee: If you return your license plates within 10 days from the date you registered your car, you will receive a refund less a charge of $5. If you return your plates after this 10-day period, but within a “reasonable time,” you will receive a partial rebate.
Asserting Your Rights
If you followed all of the above steps and the seller does not refund your money, you should explore the following options:
Mediation is an inexpensive and informal way to resolve your dispute without hiring an attorney and going to court. Contact the Attorney General’s Office for mediation services.
You may also pursue your claim through the court system. For claims under $7,000, small claims court may be the least costly alternative. Consumer Affairs publishes a Consumer’s Guide to Small Claims Court available upon request. Larger claims may be more suitable to District or Superior Court. You should seek legal advice for all claims.
Other Rights and Remedies
If you do not qualify for a refund under the Lemon Aid Law, other laws and regulations may protect you. Unless otherwise noted, these laws do not apply to private party sales.
Implied Warranty of Merchantability:
In addition to any express written warranties given by the dealer, you are also protected by an Implied Warranty of Merchantability. This implied warranty is automatic with every car sold by a dealer. The dealer warranties that the car is safe and in running condition for at least a reasonable period of time. Consider such factors as the price paid, the car’s age, make, model and mileage to help you determine what problems the dealer should be required to fix.
You cannot waive the implied warranty of merchantability. This means that a dealer cannot sell cars “as is,” “with all faults,” or with a “50/50” warranty.
The law prohibits both dealers and private party sellers from turning back or readjusting the odometer or mileage indicator on any automobile offered for sale.
All vehicles must have a certificate of title issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles and must be properly endorsed at the time of sale. The dealer must inform you, on request, of the name and address of the prior owner of a car.
Used Vehicle Warranty Law:
Dealers must provide a written warranty to buyers who purchase a used vehicle with fewer than 125,000 miles at a purchase price of $700 or more. The law requires dealers to repair use or safety defects for either 30, 60, or 90 days, depending on the mileage of the vehicle. It also allows consumers to obtain a refund if during the warranty period they attempted to have the vehicle repaired three times for the same defect, or if the car has been out of service for repairs for at least 11 business days, and the defects still exist.
Private Party Sales:
In addition to the Lemon Aid Law requirements, a private party who sells a consumer a used vehicle must tell the buyer about any known use or safety defects. If the buyer discovers a defect which impairs the safety or substantially impairs the use of the vehicle, and can prove the seller knew about it, then the buyer can return the vehicle within 30 days of purchase. Private parties are bound by this law, regardless of the age or selling price of the vehicle.
Sources of Help
For General Information:
Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
(617) 973-8787 or Toll Free: (888) 283-3757
Registry of Motor Vehicles
To file a complaint against a dealer:
The Office of the Attorney General
Automobile consumers are protected by laws covering those who purchase vehicles in Massachusetts that are found to have significant defects. These free programs offer an additional level of protection for consumers who purchase cars that fail to function as required by law. If you have recently purchased a defective vehicle, follow this simple tool to determine if your vehicle is eligible for Massachusetts’ Lemon Law, Lemon Aid Law, or Used Vehicle Warranty Law.
You must be able to demonstrate that the defects must substantially imparir the use, market-value or safey of the vehilce. For exmaple, to prove marke tvalue impairment, you must show you vehicle is worth at least 10% less than is would be without hte defect.
If the vehicle fails inspection and you’re within seven days
If the vehicle fails inspection, it may be eligible for Lemon Aid, however you must act quickly. Please contact our Office at 888-283-3757 for more information.
Over seven days: The vehicle is not eligible for Massachusetts Lemon Aid Law, but it may be eligible for the Used Vehicle Warranty Law.
Click “Continue” to check the vehicle’s eligibility
New, purchased within the last 12 months with less than 15,000 miles on the vehicle?
Has your vehicle been brought back to the dealership 3 times for the same significant safety, use, or market value defect during your warranty period? OR Has your vehicle been out of service for more than 15 business days?
Have you written a Notice of Final Repair Attempt to the manufacturer?
A Notice of Final Repair Attempt notifies the manufacturer that they have one final attempt to repair the vehicle’s defect(s)
Notice of Final Repair Attempt:
Your Home Address
Your Evening Telephone Number
Your Daytime Telephone Number
Name of Manufacturer
Dear Sir or Madam:
I believe that my car is a “lemon” under the Massachusetts Lemon Law (Massachusetts General Laws; c. 90 Sec. 7N1/2). I am hereby making a written demand for relief under the Lemon Law and the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (Massachusetts General Laws, c. 93A, Sec.9).
I purchased a (make, model, year of vehicle) on (date) from (name of dealership) in (city, state). The vehicle identification number or VIN number is (vehicle identification number). Since I bought the vehicle, I have had to return it to the dealership a total of (number of times the vehicle was returned to an authorized dealer for repairs) times. My vehicle has been out of service for repairs for a total of (total number of business days the vehicle has been out of service being repaired) business days. My vehicle has been in (name of dealership) for repairs on the following dates for repair of the following defects:
(Date in/out) (List problems complained of)
I am having the following problems with my vehicle at this time: (list all problems the vehicle currently has).
These remaining defects substantially impair the use, market value or safety of my vehicle. I am hereby allowing you one final repair opportunity. If these repairs are not completed within seven business days of receipt of this letter, I am entitled to a replacement vehicle acceptable to me or a refund calculated in accordance with the Lemon Law.
Failure to comply with the Lemon Law is a violation of Massachusetts General Laws, c. 93A, and you may be subject to double or triple damages as well as attorney’s fees and court costs if this matter is taken to court.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
A Massachusetts Consumer Guide:
The Used Vehicle Warranty Law
The Used Vehicle Warranty Law protects consumers who buy used vehicles from a dealer or private party in Massachusetts. ( M.G.L. c. 90 §7N 1/4) The law requires dealers to provide consumers with a written warranty against defects that impair the vehicle’s use or safety, and requires private parties to disclose any known use or safety defects.
The Used Vehicle Warranty Law provides you with protections and remedies, including mandatory repairs, refunds, or repurchases. It does not cover all vehicles or all defects, and not all problems will qualify your vehicle for repurchase.
If you purchased a vehicle fewer than 14 days ago, the fastest way to get relief may be through the “Lemon Aid Law.”
The law applies to used cars, vans, trucks and demonstration vehicles not covered by the New Car Lemon Law, and which:
- are sold by a Massachusetts dealer or private party,
- cost at least $700 (dealer sales only),
- have fewer than 125,000 miles on the odometer when sold (dealer sales only).
Demonstration or executive vehicles are covered under the law under certain circumstances. You must first determine whether the vehicle meets the requirements of the New Car Lemon Law. You may use the Used Vehicle Warranty Law only if you do not qualify to be accepted for the New Car Lemon Law.
Vehicles Not Covered:
The following are not covered under the Used Vehicle Warranty Law:
- motorcycles, mopeds, dirtbikes;
- leased vehicles;
- auto homes, and vehicles built primarily for off-road use;
- any vehicle used primarily for business purposes, or purchased by, owned by or registered to a business
Private Party Sales:
The Used Vehicle Warranty Law applies differently to a vehicle purchased from a private party than it does if purchased from a dealer. Under the law, a dealer is anyone who sells four or more vehicles in a 12 month period.
The Used Vehicle Warranty Law requires private party sellers to inform buyers about any and all known defects which impair the safety or substantially impair the use of the vehicle. The law applies to all private party sales regardless of sales price or mileage. If you discover a defect that impairs the vehicle’s safety or substantially impairs the use, and can prove that the seller knew about the defect but failed to disclose it, you may cancel the sale within thirty days of purchase. The seller must refund the amount you paid for the vehicle, less 15 cents per mile of use.
Private parties are also bound by the Lemon Aid Law.
Defects Covered: Only defects that impair your vehicle’s use or safety are covered. Defects are not covered if they:
Dealer Warranty: Anyone who sells four or more vehicles in a one-year period is a dealer under the Used Vehicle Warranty Law. Dealer warranties cannot be waived under any circumstances. The dealer must give you a signed, dated, correct copy of the limited used vehicle warranty at the time you purchase the vehicle. The warranty requires the dealer to repair any defect that impairs the vehicle’s use or safety.
Warranty Length: The coverage depends on the mileage of the vehicle at the time of purchase as outlined below:
If the true mileage of the vehicle is unknown at the time of the sale, the warranty period is calculated according to the age of the vehicle as outlined below:
Warranty Extension: Your warranty is extended by one day for each day the vehicle is out of service for repairs, and by one mile for each mile it is driven while repairs are being made. In addition, any repair performed on a covered defect during the warranty period carries its own 30-day warranty. This warranty begins the day the repair is completed and can continue after the original warranty on the car as a whole expires. See the Consumer Affairs Warranty Extension Reference Chart if you need more information on these tolling and extension provisions (in Adobe Acrobat format).
Dealer Fails to Provide Correct Warranty: If the dealer does not give you a warranty or gives you one that is incomplete or inaccurate, you are still entitled to warranty repairs. Your warranty, however, will not begin to expire until the dealer gives you a complete, accurate copy of the warranty.
Warranty Repairs: The defects must arise during the warranty period. You must return the vehicle to the dealer for repair no more than five business days after the expiration date of the warranty period. The dealer may charge you a one-time $100 deductible, but only if this amount is written on your copy of the warranty.
Dealer Refunds: The limited used vehicle warranty provided by the dealer gives you the right to a refund if the vehicle was either:
NOTE: Business day is defined as Monday through Friday, except for state or federal holidays. When counting the number of business days your car has been out of service, any part of a business day counts as a whole day.
Waiting for Parts: If the dealer needs to order parts during a repair attempt, the days out of service while waiting for parts do not count toward the 11 business day requirement of the law. However, your warranty will extend by one day for each day you are waiting for the parts. A maximum of 21 calendar days during the warranty period will not be counted toward the 11 business day limit if parts are ordered. All business days after the 21st day will count. For more information on warranty extensions, see our Warranty Extension Reference Chart (Adobe Acrobat format).
Dealer Refuses Repairs: The dealer may only refuse repairs if you have refused a dealer’s offer to buy back the car for the full purchase price. (See next section, Dealer Repurchase.) If the dealer has not offered to repurchase the vehicle, then the dealer must repair all use or safety defects. If the dealer refuses to accept the vehicle for repairs when you present it in person, then the vehicle will be considered “out of service” beginning that day. This and any following business days waiting for the vehicle to be repaired will count toward the 11 business days out of service requirement for a refund. The same rule applies if the dealer fails to take the vehicle within 3 business days of a telephone or written request for a repair.
Dealer Repurchase: The dealer has the right to offer to buy the car back for the full repurchase price instead of making repairs. You are responsible for helping to determine the refund amount by giving the dealer copies of your receipts and other documents for each cost to be reimbursed. The dealer must make the repurchase offer in writing. Under the law, you have at least five business days from when you receive the dealer’s offer to decide whether to accept the offer.
WARNING: If the dealer offers you a full refund under the law, and you refuse to accept it, YOU WILL NOT BE ENTITLED TO FURTHER WARRANTY REPAIRS UNDER THE WRITTEN WARRANTY PROVIDED BY THE DEALER. If you do not agree with the dealer’s calculation of the repurchase amount, you can ask the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) to help calculate it. If the OCABR determines that the full repurchase amount is higher than the amount offered by the dealer, the dealer may either offer you the amount determined by the OCABR or withdraw the offer to repurchase. If the dealer withdraws the offer, you will still be entitled to warranty repairs and can apply for arbitration, if you qualify.
Keeping Records: Maintain complete records from the day you buy your vehicle. Save the written warranty; request a copy of the manufacturer’s warranty, if applicable; and keep a diary of problems and repair attempts including the dates of service, the problem you reported and mileage at the time of repairs. Get a copy of the work order filled out by the dealer every time you bring the car in for service. Dealers are required by the Attorney General’s Motor Vehicle Regulations to give you a work order even if repairs are free. (940 CMR 5.00).
Returning the vehicle: If the dealer is going to buy back your vehicle, you will need to work together to meet and exchange the vehicle and its title for a refund. You must transfer the title back to the dealer.
If your title is at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, contact the Title Division at (617) 351-9550. Explain that you are returning your vehicle under the Used Vehicle Warranty Law, and request that a certificate of title be issued to you as soon as possible. If your vehicle is financed, you will need to get a lien release from the finance company. The lien release will enable the Registry to issue a title in your name. Also, you will need to work with the dealer and the finance company to arrange for the dealer to pay the finance company the portion of the loan that is still owed.
Refund Calculations: If you have met the requirements for a refund, ask the dealer to repurchase your vehicle. To calculate the amount you are entitled to receive under the law:
An “overallowance” or “discount” is the difference between the trade-in amount and the actual cash value of the trade-in vehicle. For example, the dealer may list the trade-in amount as $2,000 for your trade-in but the trade-in is only worth $1,500. In this case, $500 of the trade-in amount is an overallowance. The overallowance will be deducted from your refund only if the amount of the overallowance is clearly and separately listed on your copy of the motor vehicle purchase contract, bill of sale, or other documents given to you at the time of the sale.
If the dealer still has your trade-in vehicle, s/he has the option of returning it to you rather than refunding the trade-in amount. If the dealer has the trade-in and wants to keep it, s/he may keep it and refund you the amount of the trade-in.
The use allowance on your vehicle may be large if you have driven many miles since your purchase. Keep in mind that the use allowance will be based on the miles driven through the time you actually return the vehicle and sign the vehicle’s title over to the dealer.
Your refund will not include lawyers’ fees, lost wages, excise tax, sales tax, or other costs that are not directly related to the defect. You can apply at your city or town hall for an abatement of excise tax. Contact the Department of Revenue to request information regarding an abatement for the sales tax at (617) 351-9550. If the dealer deducts from the purchase price for mileage, you may not be able to get your sales tax back. Sales tax is only returned by the state when the full payment is refunded. Since the Used Vehicle Warranty Law does not require the dealer to refund the sales tax, you may not be able to recover this cost.
ASSERTING YOUR RIGHTS
If the dealer will not refund your money, you have several options. You may seek mediation, arbitration, or file suit in court.
Mediation: This allows both parties to reach a mutually acceptable solution with the help of a facilitator. Mediation is voluntary, requiring both parties’ consent. Consumer Affairs offers a face-to-face mediation program for Lemon Law disputes; you may also apply for mediation through your Warranty Extension Reference Chart .
Arbitration: Arbitration is an informal and inexpensive way to resolve your complaint. In arbitration, the consumer and the dealer present evidence about the condition of the vehicle to an impartial person. To qualify for arbitration, you must meet the criteria outlined in this pamphlet. The purpose of the arbitration hearing is to determine whether or not your vehicle qualifies for a refund under the Used Vehicle Warranty Law. This arbitration is “all or nothing.” If the arbitrator determines that your vehicle meets the standards of the law, you will be awarded a full refund. If the arbitrator decides that your vehicle is not a “lemon,” there will be no award, although you may have rights to different remedies under other laws.
Consumer Affairs must receive your request for arbitration within 6 months of the date your vehicle was delivered to you. The request must be made on an official application provided by Consumer Affairs.
Court: You have the right to proceed to court if you have met the Used Vehicle Warranty Law’s requirements and the dealer refuses to refund your money, or if you are not satisfied with your arbitration decision.
Failure to comply with the Used Vehicle Warranty Law is an unfair and deceptive act or practice under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, c. 93A, which may entitle you to double or triple damages, plus court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. If you are considering court action, you should consult an attorney if you purchased your vehicle for more than $7,000. You or your attorney must begin by sending the dealer a 30-Day Demand Letter.
NOTE: The implied warranty of merchantability does not apply to private party sales.
A dealer cannot deny you coverage under this warranty. Under the implied warranty of merchantability, merchants cannot sell products: “AS IS” or “WITH ALL FAULTS.” or with a “50/50 WARRANTY” which requires you to split the cost of any repairs with the seller.
The Lemon Aid Law: This law allows you to void or cancel a motor vehicle contract or sale if your vehicle fails to pass inspection within seven days from the date of sale AND if the estimated costs of repairs of emissions or safety related defects exceed 10% of the purchase price. This law applies to both dealer and private party sales of cars and motorcycles purchased for personal or family use. The vehicle must be returned to the seller within 14 days from the date of sale.
Odometer Law: This law prohibits both dealers and private party sellers from turning back or readjusting the odometer or mileage indicated on any automobile offered for sale. If you can prove that the seller reset the odometer, you can sue for $1500 or three times the amount of your damages, whichever is greater, along with court costs and attorney fees. Odometer tampering is also a criminal offense.
Title Requirements: All vehicles must have a certificate of title issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles and must be properly endorsed at the time of sale. Dealers must inform you, on request, of the name and address of the prior owner of a vehicle.
SOURCES OF HELP
For information on your rights under the Lemon Law, or case hearing information:
To file a formal complaint (not for arbitration) against a dealer:
To check a dealer’s complaint history:
Attorney General’s Office
Better Business Bureau
For information on auto safety problems and recalls:
201 CMR 11.00: New and Used Motor Vehicle Arbitration
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