Understanding Illinois Lemon Law
Illinois’ lemon law, the New Vehicle Buyer Protection Act, covers passenger cars and motor vehicles weighing less than 4 tons designed for carrying more than 10 people such as a large van or minibus.
It also covers vehicles used as living quarters, vehicles that pull freight, cargo or “implements of husbandry (farming and ranching equipment).”
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The lemon law also covers vehicles that fire departments or fire protection districts purchase, and specified recreational vehicles. The law doesn’t cover used vehicles.
The lemon law protects individuals who purchase or lease vehicles for a year to transport themselves, others and personal property for primarily household purposes. The law also protects fire departments and fire protection districts that buy or lease vehicles.
The state’s lemon law covers any vehicle “nonconformity,” which it defines as a “defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a new motor vehicle and does not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty.” The law does not compel manufacturers to repurchase or replace vehicles if the nonconformity “does not substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the motor vehicle, or the nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect or modification or alteration of the motor vehicle by the purchaser.” For example, the law doesn’t cover annoying rattles or stereo problems, or anything the purchaser does to the vehicle after the point of sale.
The Illinois lemon law compels manufacturers to repurchase or replace a vehicle if they are unable to “conform the vehicle to any of its applicable express warranties” after a reasonable number attempts. Basically, if those who sold you your car can’t fix the issue, they have to provide you either a new vehicle or your money back.
Per the Illinois lemon law, once agreeing to repurchase a vehicle the manufacturer must pay the full purchase price minus a reasonable use allowance. The manufacturer must also pay collateral charges, not including taxes paid by the purchaser. When repurchasing a leased vehicle, the manufacturer must pay the lease cost to the consumer minus the same reasonable use allowance. They must also pay collateral charges and also the pay-off amount to the lessor.
Any replacement vehicle, per the Illinois lemon law, must be a new vehicle of like model line or otherwise comparable.
The Illinois lemon law defines “reasonable number of attempts” as four or more attempts for the same problem without success. The lemon law also defines reasonable attempts to mean it is unreasonable for a car to be in service repair for 30 business days or more. If either condition is met within one year after purchase or within 12,000 miles of operation, the consumer can request repurchase or replacement of the nonconforming vehicle. The consumer must send the manufacturer a letter detailing the alleged defect with the vehicle to satisfy the provisions of the Illinois lemon law.
The Illinois lemon law’s provisions covering refund or replacement don’t apply until the consumer as first resorted to an “informal dispute settlement procedure,” i.e. arbitration.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
The manufacturer must abide by the decision of the arbitrator, while the consumer does not. If dissatisfied with the outcome, a consumer can bring civil action in court. By filing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Illinois consumers can hire lawyers who will represent them without the vehicle owner having to pay any attorneys’ fees directly out of their pocket. This is because the federal Act provides that the vehicle manufacturer shall pay the claimants’ reasonable attorneys’ fees if the claimant prevails against the manufacturer. Lemonlawusa.org encourages vehicle owners with a lemon to hire a lemon law attorney. You can bet the car manufacturers have legal counsel at the ready to help defend against lemon law claims both in arbitration and in court.
Ross said clients who win in court against their vehicle’s manufacturer or settle with them outside of court can use their awarded funds for anything they like, including buying a new vehicle to replace their lemon.
Clients who financed their vehicles must continue making their periodic payments throughout their lemon law claim, even if the car is in the shop or otherwise inoperable. Missing your payments can adversely affect your lemon law claim. Luckily if you prevail in court or agree on a settlement, you can use your awarded money to pay off your auto loan. Once you’re freed from your loan you can seek a new vehicle – hopefully one lacking repeated, unfixable problems.
Clients who purchased their vehicle outright or paid it off by the time their lemon law claim resolves can use their awarded money as a down payment on a new vehicle, or to purchase outright a less expensive one. The choice lies entirely with the client.
The Illinois lemon law specifically does not cover used vehicles. Lemon laws in most states only cover vehicles still under their original manufacturer’s warranty, and most used vehicles are resold well after those warranties expire. Contact a lemon law lawyer today, they can help you determine whether or not you have a valid lemon law claim.
Statutes of limitation can keep you from getting your deserved compensation if you don’t act fast. Contact the offices of Allen Stewart, P.C. Our lemon law attorneys can help you navigate the legal system and get you back on the road.
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