Utah’s Lemon Law for New Cars

Consumers who buy or lease a new automobile or motor home with significant defects that can’t be repaired, or in other words consumers who buy a “lemon,” can obtain relief under the Utah New Motor Vehicle Warranties Act or “Lemon Law.”

The Lemon Law applies to new cars under warranty and was extended in 1990 to also cover new leased vehicles and motor homes.  The Lemon Law does NOT apply to used vehicles.

For your vehicle to qualify as a “lemon” under the Lemon Law, the following criteria must apply:

  • The vehicle must have been purchased in the state of Utah;
  • The vehicle must be new and under warranty;
  • The vehicle must weigh less than 12,000 pounds;
  • The defect must “substantially impair the use, market value or safety of the vehicle”;
  • The vehicle must have been to the manufacturer to have the same defect resolved at least four times OR out of service to the consumer a total of 30 days DURING the first year or the warranty period, whichever is less (if your problems occur AFTER this time period, you do NOT qualify for the Utah Lemon Law);
  • The defect cannot be the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications of the vehicle; AND
  • The consumer must go through any informal dispute settlement or arbitration procedure the manufacturer may have established – such as the Better Business Bureau’s AutoLine.

If your vehicle meets ALL of the criteria, your next step is to file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Protection.  Include with your complaint COPIES of any relevant documents, including service records, and arbitration or dispute settlement records.  After your vehicle is determined to be a “lemon”, you may qualify for either a replacement or a cash refund.  The manufacturer may charge you a “reasonable” amount for use of the vehicle as prescribed by law, usually 10 to 23 cents per mile.  You can have the Division try to obtain restitution for you, or you can take private action with the help of your own attorney.

Only a small number of vehicles are really “lemons.”   However, to avoid “lemon-type” problems, there are some steps you can take to ensure greater satisfaction with your new vehicle purchase.

  • Make sure the vehicle you buy is exactly what you ordered.
    • Check to make sure all options, equipment and accessories you want are included and every service listed has been completed.
    • Check every accessory, piece of listed equipment, and service listed on the window sticker.  According to federal law, the widow sticker must remain with the vehicle until it is delivered to you, the consumer.
    • Check to make sure the receipted bill-of-sale says exactly what you bought.  Compare your bill-of-sale against both the vehicle and the window sticker.
  • Wait for “dealer prep.”  New vehicles require checking and varying degrees of service before they are delivered to the purchaser.   Make sure the dealer completes the dealer prep and that the service is listed and marked “paid” on the bill of sale.
  • Do not complete the purchase of the vehicle until a lender has approved credit and financing.
  • Inspect and road test the vehicle.  Drive it on roads you normally drive, with the loads you normally carry.  Have all problems taken care of before you take possession.

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