Business & Finance

Understanding the Lemon Law


Anyone who has ever purchased a new car has experienced the excitement and satisfaction of driving around in a shiny up-to-the minute dependable vehicle. Even that new car smell can be intoxicating. But what happens if that great deal turns out to be a bust, and the car has major mechanical problems or simply doesn’t perform the way it is supposed to?

Once the deal goes sour, what can the consumer do? Fortunately, New York State Law has a special law to protect consumers who purchase cars that turn out to be lemons. New York’s New Car Lemon Law, General Business Law Section 198 (a), provides a legal remedy for vehicles that turn out to be disappointments.

This law covers both new and used cars, including motorcycles and motor homes. In order to qualify, the vehicle must have been covered by the manufactures warranty at the time of the original delivery. The vehicle must also be purchased, leased or transferred in New York State and must be primarily for personal use.

Sign Up for E-News

Most importantly, the Lemon Law requires that the vehicle must be less than two years old and have less than 18,000 miles on it. First and foremost, the consumer must immediately report any defect or condition covered by the manufacturer’s warranty directly to the manufacturer or its authorized dealer.

The manufacturer has a duty to repair any defect without charge. If the problem is not repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, or the manufacturer or the dealer refuses to commence repairs within 20 days from the manufacturer’s receipt of the refusal to the repair notice from the consumer, and if the problem substantially impairs the value of the vehicle, the manufacturer may be required to refund the full purchase or lease prices or offer a comparable replacement car.

A reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle is defined under the Lemon Law as four or more times, or the car being out of service by reason or repair for a cumulative total of 30 or more calendar days for one or more problems. The consumer’s complaint must be a serious problem such as an engine defect, repeated stalling, or transmission problems. However, some courts have found that the cumulative effects of numerous lesser defects can add up to a substantial impairment of value which can also meet the criteria of the Lemon Law.

If qualified under the Lemon Law, the consumer has the option of either participating in an arbitration program or suing the manufacturer directly in court. The arbitration program is inexpensive and effective as long as the Lemon Law requirements are met.

One can contact the New York State Attorney General Lemon Law Arbitration Unit at oag.state.NY.US directly (search Lemon Law Protection), or seek out counsel familiar with Lemon Law cases. If a consumer follows the proper procedures and qualifies under the law, they will most likely end up with a new vehicle or a full returned.

So if your new car purchase goes sour, this unique law provides a viable solution to make lemonade out of what has turned out to be a lemon.

Rick S. Cowle is an attorney admitted to practice law in New York, Connecticut, the District of Columbia and the United States Supreme Court. He is president of The Law Office of Rick S. Cowle, P.C., a general practice law firm located at 18 Fair St., Carmel. He can be reached at 845-225-3026 or For more information, visit This article is meant for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to give legal advice.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


I Do Not Make Stuff Up!

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in my column, “Watergate analogies apply to Obama, not Trump,” that President Obama’s Justice Department planted a spy in the Trump campaign. I said I used the term “spy” because this was a counter-intelligence operation, not a criminal investigation, where the term informant would have been proper.

That statement has been brought ...

Interview with Senate Candidate, Robert Kesten

The seat in the 40th Senate District of New York, currently occupied by Republican Sen. Terrence Murphy, is up this year. Senator Murphy, who has announced he is seeking re-election, has already started campaigning. On the Democratic side, newcomer Robert Kesten entered the race. Challenging him for the Democratic nomination is former county Legislator Peter Harckham. Kesten and Harckham will ...

What Kind of Sports Parent Are You?

Social media recently showered a lot of likes and love on a high school pitcher in Minnesota whose team was playing in a regional final that would send the winning team to the state championship game.

After the last batter of the game struck out, the pitcher did something unheard of. Rather than spontaneously join his teammates in an on-field celebration, as is customary, the pitcher ...

I Come from the Land Down Under

I know this is a family column, so I’m going to put this in as delicate terms as possible.

This morning I woke up and I knew, as sure as the sun shines over Bora Bora, that something was very, very wrong in that place in my body where the Bora Bora sun doesn’t shine.

It’s that place I used to refer to my daughter as her hoo-hoo. But it certainly wasn’t a happy ...

Andy’s at It Again

June 13, 2018

A couple of years ago, I wrote to question why Andy wasn’t citing his sources when he flings dirt at any Democrat he wants to malign.

Well, he’s at it again. In the latest iteration, he tells us that Obama was responsible for putting a spy in the Trump campaign. He then repeats himself three more times to emphasize his point, but gives no proof or evidence to back up the ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, June 20

Yorktown Heights Fire Station 1, Yorktown Heights

Yorktown Heights Fireman's Carnival

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back Other Police & Fire


Thu, June 21

Navajo Field, Yorktown Heights

2018 Kickball Registration is Open! Meet, Greet ...


Thu, June 21, 7:00 PM

NY-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, Cortlandt Manor

Book Club for Women with Cancer

Health & Wellness

Yorktown Youth Soccer Club Results

June 15, 2018

Sunday, June 10  - The Yorktown Crew clinched the Westchester Youth Soccer League JV-1 Division with a 4-3 win over Rivertown FC on Sunday. The team has been on a remarkable run for the past 2 seasons with a team record of 16-1-1. Sunday’s matchup vs Rivertown had a championship like atmosphere as Rivertown trailed Yorktown by 1 point in the standings. The Crew worked hard all week in ...