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  6.  — Massachusetts New and Used Vehicle Lemon Law Explained

Massachusetts New And Used Vehicle Lemon Laws

Massachusetts New and Leased Vehicle Lemon Law: What Is It? 

In the United States, many different states have their own respective lemon laws, which provide legal protection to consumers who buy and lease vehicles. These laws protect consumers in case the vehicle that they purchased or leased has defects that cause quality or performance issues. If a consumer purchases or leases a vehicle that is deemed a lemon pursuant to their respective state’s lemon law(s), the consumer is entitled to receive a legal remedy under the law.

In Massachusetts, the New and Leased Vehicle Lemon Law specifically covers new cars, vans, motorcycles, and trucks that were purchased or leased in Massachusetts from a licensed dealer. Additionally, if a vehicle is within 1 year or 15,000 miles of use from the date that it was originally delivered, then it is still covered under the New and Leased Vehicle Lemon Law’s warranty period. The vehicle in question must be used for personal or family purposes and the vehicle will not be eligible for Lemon Law coverage if it was bought by or registered to a business. In order to determine further eligibility for a vehicle, a consumer should be able to demonstrate the extent to which the defect affects the vehicle’s use, market value, or safety. In Massachusetts, in order to prove damage to market value, consumers must be able to show that the impairment causes the vehicle to be worth at least 10% less than its original market value without the impairment.

A vehicle is considered to be a lemon under the New and Leased Vehicle Lemon Law if it has one or more defects that significantly impairs the usage of the vehicle, its market value, or its safety during use. Another qualification for being a lemon under this law is if the vehicle has failed to have been repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. According to the Massachusetts New and Leased Vehicle Lemon Law, a reasonable number of repairs is considered to be three repair attempts for the same defect. These repairs should be attempted by a manufacturer-authorized dealer, the manufacturer itself, or the selling dealer. If the problem is fixed but then reoccurs within 1 year or 15,000 miles of the vehicle’s original delivery date, the vehicle could still potentially be deemed a lemon. Additionally, if the vehicle is out of service for 15 cumulative business days or more even if it has not been brought to a repair center for three repair attempts, it would be on its way to potentially being categorized as a lemon. If a consumer brings their vehicle in for a repair, it is imperative that they keep written records and receipts of their dealings with the manufacturer and the dealership.

If after a reasonable number of repair attempts (three) have been made the vehicle’s defect still persists, or if the defect still persists after being out of service for 15 cumulative business days or more, then the consumer must give the manufacturer one final opportunity to repair the defect. The manufacturer has a period of 7 business days to attempt the final repair and this period starts once the manufacturer has been notified of the previous repair attempt(s). Thus, the consumer must send a letter by mail or by email to the vehicle’s manufacturer in order to notify them that the repair requirements have been met and that they wish to schedule a final repair attempt. This letter must be sent before 15 months passes from the date that the vehicle was originally delivered. The consumer has the right to pick up their vehicle from the manufacturer at the end of the 7-day period, regardless of whether the vehicle has been fixed or not. If the final repair attempt is unsuccessful, then the consumer has the right to receive a refund for the repair cost(s), as well as a refund of the price paid to purchase or lease the defective vehicle, or to receive a replacement vehicle.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

If the manufacturer is unable to fix the vehicle’s defect during the final repair attempt, the consumer has the right to receive compensation for the cost of the vehicle’s repairs. Additionally, the consumer would be entitled to receive a replacement for the purchased or leased vehicle, or a refund for the purchased or leased vehicle by the manufacturer. Either way, the consumer has the right to keep their current vehicle until they are provided with a refund, or with a replacement vehicle.

If the manufacturer offers a replacement vehicle, the manufacturer must also reimburse the consumer for costs related to the new vehicle such as the transfer of registration fees, towing or rental charges that were incurred due to the defective vehicle, and any sales tax that resulted from acquiring the replacement vehicle. If a consumer accepts the manufacturer’s offer to provide a replacement vehicle and the consumer had previously financed the purchase of the original vehicle through the manufacturer, they cannot be forced to enter another refinancing agreement that creates financial obligations that are in addition to the ones of the original agreement. Additionally, if a new replacement vehicle is priced higher than the defective vehicle that the consumer had previously purchased, the manufacturer does not have the right to force a consumer to accept and pay the difference in price for the replacement vehicle. When the consumer receives the replacement vehicle, a new “term of protection” starts from the day that the vehicle is delivered.

If the manufacturer offers the consumer a refund for a purchased vehicle, the consumer will be able to receive the full contract price that they paid for the vehicle, including any credits that they received from a trade-in, subtracted by a reasonable allowance for the amount that they used the vehicle. This allowance is calculated by a formula that is based on the purchase price of the vehicle and the total mileage that it was driven for. For a car, the deduction formula is as follows: (The contract price of the car / 100,000) X the car’s mileage. For a motorcycle, the deduction formula is: (The contract price of the motorcycle / 25,000) X the motorcycle’s mileage. If a manufacturer offers a refund for a leased vehicle, the consumer is entitled to a refund of the payments made towards the lease.  Additionally, if the manufacturer offers a refund for a purchased or leased vehicle, they must also provide the consumer reimbursements for other related costs including sales tax, registration fees, towing or rental charges, the unused portions of a warranty of credit insurance, and incidental costs related to the vehicle’s defect. However, the manufacturer does not have to reimburse the consumer for consequential damages like lost wages.

The Massachusetts Used Vehicle Lemon Law: What Is It?

In the United States, many different states have their own respective lemon laws, which offer legal protection to consumers who buy vehicles. These laws protect consumers in case the vehicle that they purchased has defects that cause quality or performance issues. If a consumer’s vehicle is considered to be defective according to their respective state’s lemon law, then the consumer has the right to receive a legal remedy under that law.

In Massachusetts, the Used Vehicle Lemon Law specifically covers used vehicles that were purchased from a dealership that is in Massachusetts. A dealer is defined as anyone that sells at least three cars throughout a 12-month period of time, even if they do not possess a used car dealer license. Additionally, only vehicles that are purchased for family or personal use are covered by the law. Unlike Massachusetts’ New Vehicle Lemon Law, the Used Vehicle Lemon Law does not cover motorcycles. Vehicles like dirt bikes, auto homes, and boats, as well as vehicles that are purchased for business purposes, are excluded as well.

For a used vehicle sold by a Massachusetts dealership to be deemed a lemon under this law, the vehicle must have been bought for at least $700 and the odometer must have been under 125,000 miles when it was sold. In regard to the state of the vehicle, an eligible defect is considered to be one that substantially impairs the vehicle’s use, its market value, or its safety. However, there are some damages that the lemon law does not cover. For example, defects that only affect the vehicle’s appearance, defects that are caused by damage to the car unrelated to the defect, and defects that resulted from any substantial changes enacted by the consumer are excluded from coverage.

When a Massachusetts dealer sells an eligible used vehicle, at the time of purchase they must provide the consumer with a warranty that contains information about the vehicle’s term of protection, which is the period in which they are entitled to warranty repairs from the dealer. The warranty must contain the dealer’s signature and the date that the vehicle was bought. If a dealer provides a consumer with an inaccurate warranty, or fails to provide one at all, the consumer is entitled to a term of protection that is longer than the original term. In fact, if the warranty document is never provided to the consumer, then the warranty period is tolled until the document is provided to the consumer. Additionally, no matter the amount of defects that need to be repaired, a dealer cannot charge a consumer more than $100 for total warranty repairs and this amount can only be charged if it is indicated on the consumer’s warranty document that it could be charged.

The term of protection for a used vehicle is dependent on its odometer mileage at the time of sale. There are three different terms of protection, each with varying time limits for the warranty period — 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. For vehicles that are between 80,000 and 124,999 miles, the warranty period is 30 days or 1,250 miles driven since the date of purchase, whichever happens sooner. For vehicles between 40,000 and 79,999 miles, the warranty period is 60 days or 2,500 miles driven since the date of purchase, whichever happens sooner. For vehicles under 40,000 miles, the warranty period is 90 days or 3,750 miles driven since the date of purchase, whichever happens sooner. If a consumer does not know the accurate mileage of a vehicle at the time of purchase, then the term of protection period is determined by the age of the vehicle.

If a consumer’s used vehicle is eligible for repairs to be covered pursuant to the lemon law’s warranty period for the vehicle, then the dealer that sold the vehicle must accept the vehicle for repair within 3 business days of a consumer’s request. The dealer then has a period of 11 cumulative business days (Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, or any day that the service center is open) or three attempts to repair the vehicle’s defect. If the vehicle is out of service for at least 11 business days or if it is not fixed after three repair attempts, then the consumer is entitled to legal remedies under the Used Vehicle Lemon Law. Additionally, if a consumer makes a repair request but the dealer does not take the vehicle within three business days, then the consumer can begin to count the vehicle as “out of service” from the day that the repair request was made.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

If a consumer’s vehicle is considered to be a lemon, they are entitled to receive compensation in the form of repair costs, or a refund for the vehicle.

According to the Used Vehicle Lemon Law, the dealer can offer to repurchase (or “buyback”) a consumer’s vehicle instead of making repairs. Under a vehicle buyback, it is possible for a consumer to receive a full refund from the dealer. In order to help determine the refund amount, a consumer should provide the dealer with receipts from the vehicle’s purchase and from repair costs. When a dealer offers to repurchase the vehicle, they must do so in writing and after a consumer receives the offer, they have at least five business days to decide whether they want to accept or to reject the offer. However, if a dealer makes an offer to fully refund a consumer and the consumer does not accept this offer, the consumer is not entitled to receive any more warranty repairs.

In order to establish the final buyback price of a vehicle, a number of factors are added together, including the vehicle’s purchase price (which includes the amount of a trade-in vehicle, if applicable), finance charges, registration fees, non-refundable insurance payments, and other costs. The total amount of these costs is then subtracted by an amount of 15 cents for each mile that the vehicle was driven since the date of purchase and the amount of over allowance on a trade-in vehicle, if applicable. When dealing with trade-in vehicles, if a dealer is still in possession of the original vehicle that a consumer traded in, the dealer has the option to give back the trade-in vehicle instead of repaying the trade-in amount. However, if the dealer decides to keep the trade-in vehicle, then they are required to refund the consumer with the monetary amount of the trade-in.