Massachusetts New Car Lemon Laws

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Northeast Legal Aid
Residencia en’s Guide to New Car Lemon Law

If you buy a new car in Massachusetts, there are laws designed to protect you from dishonest salespeople. These laws are known as the “Lemon Laws.” They protect you when salespeople sell you a vehicle with serious issues or a vehicle that is different from what they advertised.

Is my car covered by the New Car Lemon Laws?

The new car Lemon Laws apply to new:

  • bought cars, 
  • leased cars (unlike for the used car Lemon Law),
  • motorcycles, 
  • trucks, and 
  • vans.

The vehicle must be for you or your family, not for a business1.

The “Term of Protection”

When you buy a new vehicle in Massachusetts, there is an automatic “term of protection” from the date the seller gives you the car. This term lasts 1 year or 15,000 miles, whichever comes first. The Lemon Laws protect your car only within the term of protection.

Problems Covered

To be covered by the Lemon Laws, your car must:

  • be unsafe,
  • be unusable, or
  • have a problem that lowers its market value (the price if you were to sell it).

You must be able to show how the use, safety, or market value are reduced by the car’s problem. To prove the market value went down, you must show that your vehicle is worth at least 10% less than it would be without the problem3.

What do I do if my new car needs repairs?

If your car has a problem and is eligible under the Lemon Laws, follow these steps.

  • Tell the company you bought the car from. When you tell the authorized dealer or manufacturer there is a problem with the car, they are given a chance to repair (fix) the problem. They get up to 3 chances to repair the same problem. Be sure to keep all records and receipts that show you contacted the dealer and show all the times they tried to repair your car.

The company gets either 3 chances to repair the problem or 15 days where the car is out of service during the term of protection. The term of protection is 1 year after you buy the car or when it has 15,000 miles, whichever comes first.

  • Give the company one more chance. If you gave the dealer or manufacturer 3 chances or 15 days during the term of protection, and the problem is still not fixed, you must give them 1 more chance to fix the problem. They have 7 business days to fix it5,6.
  • Send a letter telling the car manufacturer that you have “allowed for reasonable repair attempts”. This means that you gave the dealer or manufacturer 3 chances (or 15 days) and 1 last chance. For an example of what to write, see this sample Notice of Final Opportunity to Repair letter. You have up to 15 months from the date you got the car to send this letter. You can send it even after the term of protection has ended. It is best to send the letter by certified mail, regular mail, and email. Keep a record of everything you send.
  • Pick your car up. Once the 7 business days have passed, if the manufacturer still has your car, you have the right to pick it up.
  • If the problem isn’t fixed, they must give you the amount of money it took to repair your car, a refund, or a replacement car. If you choose to ask for a refund, they can subtract the miles the car has been driven. If you opt for either a refund or replacement, they should give you back the cost of towing, sales tax, and registration fees. If you opt for a refund, the company should also give you back the amount you paid in finance charges, dealer options, unused extended warranties and credit insurance, and incidental costs7,8
What if the company doesn’t refund me, pay for repairs, or replace my car?

Apply for arbitration

You can apply for a state-run arbitration program, which will try to resolve the issue without going to court. See how to apply for Lemon Law arbitration. If you do this, you could get lower damages, which means you could get less money back.

Write a demand letter

If the company that sold you the car refuses to repair it or refund the money to you, that is considered an “unfair and deceptive act.” Under a Massachusetts law known as 93A, you can write a demand letter to the manufacturer. You can also get help from a lawyer to write a demand letter. If the company ignores this letter or does not make a reasonable settlement offer, you may be able to get up to triple damages if you file a case in court, either by yourself or with a lawyer’s help. Damages mean the sum of money you are entitled to in order to compensate you for your losses, or “make you whole.”

Go to court

If you are claiming damages over $7,000, you can file the case in District Court. If the claim for the damages against you is less than $7,000, you may file it in Small Claims Court. But for a new vehicle, the claim will often be over $7,000.

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Helpful Links
Helpful Links - Massachusetts New Car Lemon Laws

Guide to New Car Lemon Law and Guide to New Leased Car Lemon Law by the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation

Apply for Lemon Law arbitration without going to court

Get help from a Court Service Center

District Court


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