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Understanding New Hampshire Lemon Law
The New Hampshire lemon law provides relief to consumers making one of the largest purchases they will ever make.
The law protects consumers purchasing or leasing new vehicles, as well as anyone to whom the vehicle is transferred within the duration of the vehicle’s warranty. The law further protects anyone entitled by the terms of a vehicle’s warranty to enforce its obligations.
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New Hampshire’s lemon law covers vehicles purchased or leased in the state. The vehicle must be a “private passenger or station wagon type” not exceeding a gross weight of 11,000 pounds. The lemon law further covers any other four-wheeled motor vehicle with a gross weight not exceeding 11,000, as well as motorcycles, off-highway recreational vehicles and snowmobiles.
New Hampshire’s lemon law does not cover tractors or mopeds. It does, however, cover used vehicles still under the manufacturer’s warranty.
The lemon law covers “nonconformities.” A nonconformity is any specific or generic defect that substantially impairs the use, market value or safety of a vehicle. This by definition renders a vehicle “nonconforming” to the terms of an applicable manufacturer’s express warranty or implied warranty of merchantability.
The New Hampshire lemon law does not cover nonconformities that don’t substantially impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle. For example, a radio problem or slight rattle would not be considered nonconformities, while a faulty starter or malfunctioning brake system would be.
The lemon law also does not cover any nonconformity the manufacturer can prove was caused by accident, abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification of the vehicle by the consumer.
The manufacturer must repair any nonconformity reported to them by the consumer within the warranty period. The manufacturer must make the repairs even if the warranty term has expired by the time work begins. If the manufacturer is unable to conform the vehicle to its warranty, the New Hampshire lemon law requires them to either repurchase or replace it.
The New Hampshire lemon law presumes the manufacturer had a reasonable number of repair attempts to fix the nonconformity. The lemon law defines that as three repair attempts for the same problem, or 30 cumulative days out of service for the same problem. If either criteria is met, the presumption applies and the consumer should notify the manufacturer of their claim for repurchase or replacement.
New Hampshire’s lemon requires manufacturers to repay the full purchase price when repurchasing the nonconforming vehicle. Manufacturers must also repay license and finance fees, credit charges, registration fees and other incidental and consequential damages. Manufacturers may withhold a reasonable allowance for use, calculated from the number of miles driven on the vehicle up to the first attempt to repair it.
The New Hampshire lemon law requires replacement vehicles to be a new vehicle from the same manufacturer of comparable worth to the nonconforming vehicle, with all options and accessories. Adjustments must be allowed for any model year differences. The reasonable allowance for use does not apply to replacement vehicles.
When informing the manufacturer of their desire for repurchase or replacement, the New Hampshire consumer must choose between using the state arbitration board or the manufacturer’s informal dispute resolution mechanism.
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, New Hampshire 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.
This information brought to you by Allen Stewart P.C.