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Illinois Vehicle Lemon Law Explained

Illinois Lemon Law And Laws That Apply To New And Used Vehicles Bought In Illinois: What Is It?

In the United States, lemon laws are state laws that provide legal rights to buyers of vehicles. These laws protect consumers in case of quality or performance issues with the purchased vehicles. If a consumer purchases a vehicle that is defective according to their respective state’s lemon laws, the consumer is entitled to receive a legal remedy under the law.

In Illinois, the state’s lemon law is called the New Vehicle Buyer Protection Act and as the name suggests, this law provides legal protection to consumers that acquire defective new vehicles. In order to qualify for protection, the vehicles must have been purchased or leased in the state of Illinois and they must have been primarily used for personal, family, or household purposes. Vehicles that are covered by the law include cars, trucks and vans that weigh under 8,000 pounds, and recreational vehicles excluding trailers. The law also covers vehicles used by fire departments or fire protection districts. The law does not apply to motorcycles, boats, and vehicles that are altered or modified. According to the law, any defects or nonconformities — defined as issues that do not comply with the manufacturer’s express warranty and substantially impair the safety, use, and market value of a vehicle — are covered. However, defects that do not substantially impair the vehicle or those that are caused by negligence or unauthorized modifications do not qualify for lemon law protection. In Illinois, lemon law coverage extends to a period of one year or 12,000 miles after the delivery of the vehicle, whichever comes first.

If a consumer finds that their vehicle has a defect or a nonconformity, they should take the vehicle to the manufacturer or a manufacturer-authorized agent for repair. Within the statutory warranty period, the manufacturer is entitled to a reasonable number of repair attempts for the same defect. For each repair attempt, the manufacturer should provide the consumer with paperwork that includes details of the defect, a description of the work done to the vehicle, and any other relevant information pertaining to the repair. Consumers should keep this paperwork safe as they may need proof of the repair attempts further along in the lemon law claim process. In Illinois, a manufacturer or dealer is presumed to have undertaken a reasonable number of repair attempts if 1) the vehicle has been in the shop for at least four repair attempts for the same defect and the defect continues to exist; or 2) the vehicle has been out of service for at least 30 cumulative days for the repair of any defect. Once a reasonable number of attempts have been made and the defect still persists, the consumer’s vehicle will be considered a lemon.

If the manufacturer fails to repair the vehicle, the consumer must request a repurchase of the vehicle or a replacement vehicle from the manufacturer. They would have to do this by sending the manufacturer a written letter that informs them of the vehicle’s defect. Next, the consumer would have to file a claim with their manufacturer’s informal dispute settlement program. This process is also known as arbitration.

Consumers must file their claims in arbitration within twelve months after the purchase of their vehicle. During the arbitration process, the manufacturer may present the consumer a settlement offer. While the manufacturer has to follow the decision provided by the arbitrator, the consumer is not bound to the decision. If the consumer is dissatisfied with the amount and does not wish to settle during arbitration, they have the right to reject the offer and sue for a replacement vehicle or a refund. If the vehicle’s manufacturer does not have an arbitration procedure in place, the consumer can – as mentioned earlier – directly petition the manufacturer for a refund or a replacement. If the manufacturer refuses to comply with the consumer’s petition, the consumer would have the right to take legal action against the manufacturer.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

Under the Illinois Lemon Law, if a consumer’s vehicle turns out to be a lemon and does not conform to the express warranty, the manufacturer is obligated to repurchase or replace the vehicle. If a consumer agrees to a repurchase, the manufacturer must pay them the full purchase price of the vehicle. This amount would include any reasonable collateral charges that the consumer paid but would not include any taxes. If the consumer’s vehicle was leased, the manufacturer would have to provide the full amount of the lease cost. When paying a refund, the manufacturer has the right to deduct a reasonable use allowance from the total. This deduction varies based on how many miles the vehicle was driven. For a replacement vehicle, the manufacturer would have to provide a new vehicle that is of the same or comparable model line.

In the event that a consumer files a lawsuit against a manufacturer and they are successful, they are entitled to the compensation listed above. The court may also award successful consumers reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

Does the Illinois Lemon Law cover used vehicles?

No. The Illinois Lemon Law generally does not cover used vehicles. However, used vehicles that are still covered by the manufacturer’s original warranty may qualify for lemon law protection.

For example, if a used vehicle was purchased at 10,000 miles and the manufacturer’s warranty covers the vehicle for the first 25,000 miles, it is possible that this vehicle may be entitled to lemon law coverage if any substantial defects occur before the end of the warranty period.

Additionally, it is possible that consumers of used vehicles may be covered by the Magnuson- Moss Warranty Act. This is a federal statute that governs the sale of consumer goods that include written and implied warranties. A used car dealer would be required to comply with the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act if they sell a used vehicle with a warranty. If a used vehicle dealer does not abide by this act and fails to meet the obligation of their warranty, consumers may be able to file suit and collect damages.