Legislature Approves Lemon Law Expansion Bill

TRENTON – The state legislature approved a bill that would expand protections for consumers under the New Jersey’s “Lemon Law” for new car purchases.

The proposal would expand protection under the law from two years or 18,000 miles to two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.  The bill would also allow consumers quicker access to Lemon Law protection when a life-threatening defect is discovered.

“This change is reasonable and sorely needed since current usage patterns and needs have changed considerably,” said Senator Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of the bill.

“Drivers commute to work much farther than when the law was enacted 18 years ago and subsequently consumers are finding their lemon law rights are limited to approximately a year of usage.  In fact, the average consumer reaches the 18,000 mile limit after only 14 months.  By broadening the window through which individuals can file claims to 24,000 miles or two years, we will be affording many hardworking New Jerseyans enhanced consumer protection.”

Under the bill, consumers who purchase a vehicle with a defect that is likely to cause serious bodily injury or death would be able to declare the vehicle a lemon if the problem cannot be corrected after a single repair attempt.  The manufacturer would then have one opportunity to cure the life-threatening defect after the vehicle is declared a lemon.

“The current law does not differentiate between life-threatening defects, such as problems with the braking system and less serious problems such as the air conditioning,” explained Buono.

Buono’s bill also requires that a new, more detailed consumer notice be provided to all buyers by the manufacturer, rather than allowing this information to be lost in lengthy owners’ manuals.  This notice must be presented on a separate piece of paper, printed in both English and Spanish and must include the mileage and time period within which a consumer must report problems.

The bill now heads to the governor for his consideration.

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