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Lemon Law Illinois: What You Need to Know

Have questions about Illinois Lemon Law? This guide explains all you need to know about Lemon Law in Illinois including how to file a claim and more.

evident Editorial Team
June 24, 2023
defective automobile, lemon law

Understanding your rights as a vehicle owner is crucial to navigating potential issues effectively. Among these rights are protections offered under the Illinois Lemon Law, a law designed to safeguard consumers against defective vehicles.

Whether you're a first-time car buyer, or an experienced motorist, knowing what constitutes a 'lemon car' and your legal recourse can make a significant difference.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide an in-depth look at the Lemon Law in Illinois, its specific rules for new, used, and leased cars, how to file a lemon law claim and much more.

Empower yourself with knowledge, and ensure your journey on the road is smooth.

Key Takeaways

What is Lemon Law?

Lemon Law refers to the state laws designed to protect consumers who have purchased or leased a defective vehicle.

Often characterized by substantial malfunctions that impair its use, safety, or value, a "lemon" is a vehicle that doesn't meet the performance standards promised by the manufacturer. Lemon laws obligate manufacturers to either replace the defective vehicle or refund the consumer's money if the car can't be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.

Each state, including Illinois, has its own set of specific "lemon laws."

Illinois Lemon Law Rules for New Cars

When you've invested in a new vehicle, the last thing you want to encounter is persistent issues that significantly impede your car's functionality or safety. The Illinois Lemon Law provides robust protections for consumers in this unfortunate situation.

Lemon Law Requirements for New Vehicles

Under the Illinois New Vehicle Buyer Protection Act, a vehicle can be classified as a "lemon" if it experiences a defect or condition significantly affecting its value, safety, or use. It's crucial to note that this issue must occur within the first year or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first after the vehicle is delivered to the consumer.

To qualify as unresolved, if the defect does not impair the vehicle's use or safety, the manufacturer or authorized dealer must have made at least four attempts to rectify the defect, or the car must have been out of service for 30 or more days due to the defect during the vehicle warranty period.

If the defect does impact the vehicle's use or safety, only one unsuccessful repair attempt is necessary for the car to potentially qualify as a "lemon."

New Vehicle Buyer Protection

If your new car meets the above criteria, the Illinois Lemon Law entitles you to a comparable motor vehicle (of comparable value) as a replacement vehicle of comparable value or a full refund from the vehicle manufacturer. This protection gives new vehicle buyers a sense of security, ensuring they receive a fair resolution if they end up with a "lemon."

Illinois Lemon Law Rules for Used Cars

While used cars may offer a cost-effective alternative to new vehicles, they can also pose a greater risk of defects and issues. Understanding how the Illinois Lemon Law applies to used vehicles can help you make informed decisions and protect your rights as a consumer.

Used Vehicles and Lemon Law in Illinois

While Illinois Lemon Law does not apply to used vehicles, you still have options if your defective car was purchased with an express written warranty, typically the original manufacturer's warranty, and the issue arose within the warranty period.

Illinois consumers can also seek recourse for their used car purchases under the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a law that doesn't differentiate between new and used vehicles. If your car aligns with the legal definition of a 'lemon,' this federal act covers it.

The federal act steps in as long as a defect is reported while the vehicle is under warranty, irrespective of whether you or a prior owner reported it. This law obliges the manufacturer to handle the repairs. You can seek legal redress for compensation if the manufacturer fails to fix the issues despite multiple attempts.

Illinois Lemon Law Rules for Leased Cars

Leasing a car is a popular option for many Illinois residents due to the flexibility and lower costs it often provides. However, leased vehicles are not immune to persistent defects or issues. Fortunately, the Illinois Lemon Law protects leased cars, ensuring you're not left stranded with a lemon.

Illinois Lemon Law and Leased Motor Vehicles

Under the Illinois Lemon Law, leased motor vehicles, including passenger cars and recreational vehicles, can be considered 'lemons' if they have a nonconformity or defect covered by the applicable express warranties that substantially impairs the vehicle's use, value, or safety.

These issues must occur within the first 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever happens first, and remain unresolved despite a reasonable number of attempts to repair them.

Express Warranties and Leased Vehicles

An express warranty refers to the manufacturer's promise or guarantee to stand by its product and rectify any issues that arise within the warranty period. When leasing a car, it's vital to understand the terms of any express warranties associated with your leased vehicle.

You're entitled to remedies under the Illinois Lemon Law, much like new car owners, should any substantial issues arise.

Illinois Lemon Law Time Limit

hourglass, clock, time

The adage "time is of the essence" certainly applies when seeking remedies under the Illinois Lemon Law. Awareness of the statute's specific time constraints is key to ensuring your claim is valid and that you can secure the protection you're entitled to.

Timing for Filing a Lemon Law Claim

In Illinois, lemon law claims must be filed within 18 months of the vehicle's delivery date to the consumer. This timeline is crucial because even if your vehicle meets all other criteria under the Lemon Law, failure to act within this time frame can render your claim null and void.

Lemon Law and Warranty Period

Moreover, the defects or nonconformities that substantially impair your vehicle's use, value, or safety must occur within the statutory warranty period, the first 12 months, or 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Even if you've crossed the 18-month timeline, you might still be eligible for relief under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

It's essential to consult with a legal expert to understand your options and the best course of action for your particular situation.

How do I file a lemon law claim in Illinois?

If you find yourself stuck with a lemon, it's essential to understand how to effectively file a claim under the Illinois Lemon Law. Here's a step-by-step guide to help navigate this process:

  1. Documentation: Keep detailed records of all issues, repair attempts, and communications with the dealer or manufacturer. This includes dates, the nature of the problem, and the work performed on the vehicle. Your documentation serves as crucial evidence in your claim.
  2. Repair Attempts: The vehicle must undergo at least four repair attempts for the same issue or be out of service for 30 or more days within the statutory warranty period, the first 12 months, or 12,000 miles.
  3. Manufacturer's Notification: Notify the manufacturer in writing about the defect and your intention to claim relief under the Lemon Law. Send this letter via certified mail, with a return receipt requested for proof of delivery.
  4. Claim Filing: If the manufacturer fails to fix the defect or provide a suitable replacement or refund, file your claim with the appropriate state agency or court within 18 months of the vehicle's delivery date.

Remember, seeking legal advice from a knowledgeable attorney can help ensure your claim is handled correctly and improve your chances of a successful outcome.

Do I need a lemon lawyer?

Navigating the complexities of Lemon Law claims can be daunting, particularly when going up against experienced legal teams from manufacturers. Hiring a lemon lawyer can significantly level the playing field.

Specialized lemon law attorneys have the expertise to understand the intricacies of the legislation, can guide you through the process, and help maximize your chances of success. Moreover, they can ensure all deadlines and procedural requirements are met, advocate on your behalf, and negotiate with the manufacturers.

In many cases, the attorney's fees may be recoverable from the manufacturer, making this a viable option even for those concerned about costs.

Lemon Law FAQs

We've collated some frequently asked questions about state Lemon Laws and related topics to ensure you're fully informed.

What is lemon law?

Lemon Law is a state legislation protecting consumers who have bought or leased a new vehicle with severe defects or issues. These laws require the manufacturer to replace the car or refund the purchase if the vehicle can't be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.

What is a lemon car?

A 'lemon car' refers to a vehicle that, despite multiple repair attempts, continues to have substantial defects affecting its use, safety, or value. These defects must occur within a certain period after purchase or during the warranty period.

Is there a federal lemon law?

Yes, there is a federal lemon law known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. It protects consumers across the U.S. who buy products, including vehicles, costing over $25 and come with a warranty.

What's in the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (as it applies to vehicles)?

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law that governs warranties on consumer products, including vehicles. It mandates that manufacturers and sellers of consumer products provide consumers with detailed information about warranty coverage. It also protects consumers from deceptive warranty practices and enables consumers to get disputes resolved informally, quickly, and inexpensively through dispute resolution mechanisms.