RE: Lemon Law Inquiry
While the Consumer Protection Division generally oversees manufacturer compliance with the Lemon Law, the Division does not handle individual Lemon Law complaints. However, we hope this informational packet will answer your questions regarding Iowa's Lemon Law. For independent legal advice, you should consider contacting a private attorney. Click here for the Iowa Lemon Law, Iowa Code Chapter 322G.
Your vehicle may qualify under the Lemon Law if one or more of the following conditions have been met:
- The vehicle has been in the shop 3 or more times for the same problem and the problem still exists;
- The vehicle has been in the shop one time by reason of a defect likely to cause death or substantial bodily injury and the problem still exists; or
- The vehicle has been out of service for any number of problems 20 or more days, and a problem still exists. The days out of service do not need to be consecutive.
To qualify under the Lemon Law, the problem or defect has to render the vehicle unfit, unreliable, or unsafe for ordinary use or significantly diminish the value of the vehicle, and has to have occurred during the Lemon Law rights period.
The Lemon Law rights period is defined by the Lemon Law as the term of the manufacturer's written warranty, the period ending two years after the date of the original delivery of a motor vehicle to the consumer, or the first 24,000 miles of operation attributed to a consumer, whichever expires first.
If you meet the qualifications above, then you must notify the manufacturer by certified, registered, or overnight mail and give the manufacturer one more chance to fix the problem. Your notice must go directly to the manufacturer. Contact the manufacturer if you are unsure of the correct address. Click here for a "Motor Vehicle Defect Notification " form. The Motor Vehicle Defect Notification form that is enclosed can be used as your notification to the manufacturer. Keep a copy of the completed form and any other materials mailed to the manufacturer
In order to support your allegations, keep copies of all repair orders for each time the vehicle has been in the repair facility for repair or diagnosis. For warranty repairs, repair facilities are required to provide you with a fully itemized, legible statement or repair order indicating any diagnosis made, and all work performed on the motor vehicle, including a general description of the problem reported by the consumer, the date and the odometer reading when the motor vehicle was submitted for examination or repair, and the date when the repair or examination was completed.
You should include copies of these documents with your letter to the manufacturer, and a statement of what you want done to resolve your complaint. Tell the manufacturer you want a reply within ten days of receipt of your letter. The manufacturer should then contact you with the name and address of a repair facility that is accessible to you where a final attempt will be made to repair your vehicle. If the manufacturer does not contact you within 10 days, you are not required to give the manufacturer another chance to fix the vehicle.
If the manufacturer fails to respond within 10 days, or the repair facility chosen by the manufacturer is unable to fix the problem during the final repair attempt, you can request that the manufacturer replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price, less a reasonable offset for your use of the vehicle.
If after taking these steps your complaint remains unsatisfied, you may file a lawsuit against the manufacturer under the Lemon Law. However, if the manufacturer has a certified dispute program, you must proceed through the program before filing suit. If the manufacturer's program is not certified, you may still choose to submit your claim to the program and, possibly, avoid costly litigation.. Click on the "Manufacturers' National Offices and Dispute Resolution Programs [PDF]". Enclosed is a list of the addresses and telephone numbers of the manufacturer's national offices and dispute resolution programs and a statement of whether the programs are currently certified.
You must file a lawsuit under the Lemon Law within one year following the expiration of the manufacturer's express warranty, or one year following the first 24,000 miles attributed to a consumer, or one year following the first 24 months of ownership, whichever occurs first. To file a Lemon Law lawsuit, contact a private attorney.
You may have other legal recourse against the manufacturer, even if your vehicle does not qualify under the Lemon Law. Contact a private attorney for further information.
You may wish to contact the National Auto Safety Hotline at 1-800-424-9393, or www.nhtsa.dot.gov or contact the Center For Auto Safety at 202-328-7700 or www.autosafety.org to inquire if they have information about your particular type of vehicle.
We hope this information is helpful.
For additional information, you can visit our website at: www.iowaattorneygeneral.org
Links - Motor Vehicle Defect Notification
Iowa Code-Chapter 322G