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Idaho Lemon Law

Idaho Lemon Laws and the federal Lemon Law (the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) provide for compensation to Idaho consumers of defective automobiles and trucks  and other vehicles and products including motorcycles, RV's, boats, computers and other consumer appliances and products. To qualify under the Idaho Lemon Law or the federal Lemon Law, you must generally have a product that suffered multiple repair attempts under the manufacturer's factory warranty. Lemon Law compensation can include a refund, replacement or cash compensation. The following comments briefly explain the Idaho Lemon Law and how it applies to you.

This message is not a substitute for contacting a lawyer who can best advise you of your rights. If you think you qualify for a Lemon Law, click here for a free Idaho Lemon Law case review or for an immediate evaluation, simply fax your repair records to 866-773-6152. An experienced Lemon Law attorney will personally review your inquiry and records and quickly contact you for a free consultation.

Idaho State Statutes

Office of Attorney General



What is the Purpose of Idaho's Lemon Law?

Popularly known as the "lemon law," Idaho's motor vehicle warranty statute was created to help protect you when you buy or lease a car, pickup truck, or van which is subject to an applicable manufacturer's written warranty.

Idaho's lemon law covers a vehicle's nonconformity--any defect or condition that impairs the use or market value of the motor vehicle to the consumer, as long as the nonconformity is not a result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the vehicle.

Which Motor Vehicles are Covered?

Idaho's lemon law covers motor vehicles that are subject to applicable manufacturer's written warranty. These vehicles must:

  1. be purchased or licensed in Idaho;
  2. weigh 12,000 lbs. or less; and
  3. be used primarily for personal business use or personal, family, or household purposes.

Idaho's lemon law applies for the length of the written warranty, 24,000 miles, or two years, whichever comes first. The lemon law allows you to file suit any time within three years of the date of the original delivery of the vehicle to you, if you first reported the defect within the applicable warranty period, two years, or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.

The Manufacturer's Duty to Repair

Under Idaho's lemon law, the manufacturer, its agents, or its authorized dealers must repair a motor vehicle in accordance with the terms of the warranty if:

  1. The motor vehicle does not conform to applicable written warranties; and
  2. The vehicle's owner has reported the problem within the applicable warranty period, 24,000 miles, or within two years after delivery of the vehicle, whichever comes first.

So long as the nonconformity is reported during the first 24,000 miles, or during two years after delivery, whichever comes first, the manufacturer must make the necessary repairs to correct the problem, even after the manufacturer's warranty or the two-year period has expired.

The Manufacturer's Duty to Refund or Replace

Idaho's lemon law has special refund and replacement provisions for vehicles that have substantial defects or problems and meet the lemon law's requirements.

If the manufacturer, its agents, or its authorized dealers are unable to repair or correct a vehicle's nonconformity after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer shall either 1) replace the motor vehicle with a comparable motor vehicle; or 2) refund the car's purchase price (minus a reasonable allowance for the consumer's use of the vehicle).

Under Idaho's lemon law, a manufacturer will be presumed to have had a reasonable number of attempts to repair the motor vehicle if, within the applicable warranty period, two years following the date of the motor vehicle's original delivery to the consumer, or 24,000 miles, whichever occurs first, one of the following are met:*

  • There have been four or more unsuccessful attempts to repair the same defect and the nonconformity continues to exist; or
  • There has been one unsuccessful attempt to repair a defect which has caused the complete failure of the steering or braking system and which is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury; or
  • The vehicle has been out of service due to warranty repairs for 30 or more cumulative business days.

*Note: The manufacturer shall have at least one opportunity to cure the defect before it is presumed a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to repair the vehicle.

Even if these repairs do not occur within the warranty period, 24,000 miles, or two years, you may still have a lemon law claim, but it will be much harder to prove your claim.

Situations When Refunds or Replacements are Not Given

Be aware that the manufacturer does not have to make a refund or replace the vehicle if:

  • The problem does not impair the use or market value of the vehicle; or
  • The problem is the result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the vehicle.

Refund and Replacement Eligibility Requirements

You are not automatically eligible for a refund or replacement vehicle just because a repair shop has made a number of unsuccessful attempts to fix your vehicle. You must first write to the manufacturer, zone representative, or authorized dealer notifying them of the problem and giving them one opportunity to cure the defect. Specifically state that your car is a lemon and that you want a buy-back under the lemon law. Send your notification via certified mail with return receipt requested, so you have proof that the manufacturer has received your letter. This notification does two things:

  1. It gives the company an opportunity to repair the defect (the manufacturer gets one chance to repair the defect after notification); and
  2. It lets the company know of your intention to use Idaho's lemon law if the defect is not properly repaired.

The manufacturer may require you first go through an arbitration program before filing a lawsuit under the lemon law.

Arbitration

Automobile manufacturers doing business in Idaho must offer consumers an arbitration program that considers consumers' warranty-related disputes. A manufacturer's arbitration program provides consumers a fast and simple way to resolve disputes. Arbitrators consider arguments based on the lemon law. An arbitrator is not a judge, and is not required to apply the law the way a court would.

If the manufacturer requires it, consumers must first go through the manufacturer's arbitration program before filing a lawsuit under the lemon law. You may not have to wait until all the lemon law criteria are met before going through arbitration, although you might have a stronger case if all the criteria are met.

You, as the consumer, have certain rights during the arbitration process. These include:

  • Information. The arbitrator must provide to the consumer and each person who will arbitrate the consumer's dispute, information about Idaho's lemon law.
  • Lemon Law Argument. You may make any arguments to the arbitrator(s) you think necessary to support your complaint.
  • Documents. The arbitrator cannot consider any documents that have not been provided to each of the parties in the dispute, with an opportunity for either party to comment on the documents either in writing or orally.
  • Oral Presentation. You must be given reasonable written notice of the arbitration and an opportunity to make an oral presentation to the arbitrator(s), unless you agree to a telephone conference or to submit the case on the basis of documents alone. If the case is based on documents alone, the manufacturer or dealer representatives cannot participate in discussion or resolution of the dispute. You may get better results if you make a personal oral presentation to the arbitrator(s).
  • Independent Appraisal. You must be given an adequate opportunity to get an independent appraisal, at your own cost, of any manufacturer claim that your vehicle does not have a problem or that your vehicle is operating within normal specifications.
  • Repair Attempts. You must be given a chance to inform the arbitrator(s) about the results of any recent repair attempts by the manufacturer.
  • Service Bulletins. The manufacturer must provide to you, at reasonable cost, any technical service bulletin that the manufacturer knows directly applies to the specific mechanical problem being disputed.
  • Attorney. You have the right to be represented by an attorney in the arbitration process. However, most arbitration participants appear before the arbitrator(s) without an attorney. Attorney fees for representation in arbitration are not recoverable under Idaho's lemon law.
  • Arbitration Decision. You are not bound by the decision of the arbitrator(s), unless you agree to be bound. In the past, manufacturers have agreed to be bound by the arbitration decision. If you are unhappy with an arbitration decision, you may wish to consult an attorney as to whether you should file a lawsuit under the lemon law. The arbitration decision is admissible as non-binding evidence in any subsequent legal action. If you wish to file an appeal of the arbitrator's ruling in court, you must file in court within 30 days of the decision.
  • Refund Amount. If the arbitrator(s) decides you should receive a refund or replacement vehicle under the terms of the lemon law, then you are entitled to the same refunds and reimbursements you would have received had you won in court.
  • Bad Faith Appeal. If a court determines that you or the manufacturer acted in bad faith when you appealed an arbitration decision, the party that wins in court may be entitled to receive three times the actual damages, plus attorney fees and court costs.

If You are Awarded a Refund

If you are awarded a refund under the terms of Idaho's lemon law, the manufacturer must accept return of the nonconforming vehicle and must refund:

The full purchase price of the vehicle, not to exceed one hundred five percent (105%) of the manufacturer's suggested retail price of the motor vehicle. However, for either a purchased or leased vehicle, the manufacturer may deduct a reasonable

  1. allowance for the time that you were able to use the vehicle [not to exceed the number of miles attributable to the consumer up to the date of the arbitration hearing multiplied by the purchase price of the vehicle and divided by one hundred thousand (100,000)];
  2. Sales tax;
  3. License fees;
  4. Registration fees;
  5. Reimbursement for towing; and
  6. Rental expenses.

Note: With respect to purchased vehicles, if you are awarded a replacement vehicle, you have the option of receiving a refund instead.

If you leased your vehicle, the leased vehicle must be returned to the manufacturer. The manufacturer must refund

  1. The pro rata amount of any down payment. The pro rata amount shall be calculated by the amount of the down payment divided by the number of months of the lease agreement and that amount multiplied by the number of months remaining after the arbitration.
  2. Sales tax;
  3. License fees;
  4. Registration fees; and
  5. Reimbursement for towing and rental expenses.

For leased vehicles, the manufacturer shall also provide the lessor or its assignee with a full refund of the early termination charges plus the residual value of the vehicle, as specified in the lease agreement.

The amount of any refund to a consumer for the pro rata share of the down payment plus the amount of the refund to the motor vehicle lessor of the vehicle shall not exceed one hundred five percent (105%) of the manufacturer's suggested retail price of the motor vehicle.

Note: The remedy of a replacement vehicle for purchased vehicles is not available for leased vehicles.

REMEMBER: The refund and replacement provisions of Idaho's lemon law are intended to provide a replacement or a refund only in the cases of serious defects--faults which impair the use or market value of the vehicle, or faults which involve life-threatening failures of the braking or steering systems.

Helpful Hints

To prepare for a lemon law dispute, you should:

  • KEEP COPIES of all purchase orders, sales receipts, lease agreements, warranties, detailed repair invoices, letters, and other documents concerning your vehicle and any of its problems or potential defects.
  • IF your vehicle is in the shop for repairs for more than one day at a time, make sure that the repair invoice shows the date it was brought in and the date you were notified that it was ready to be returned.
  • IF you think you are eligible for a refund or replacement vehicle, remember the law requires written notice be given to the manufacturer, zone representative, or authorized dealer if you are going to rely upon the presumption relating to a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle. You should send a letter by certified mail, with a return receipt requested. If you send the letter to the dealer, send a copy to the manufacturer and keep a copy for your records.

This pamphlet has been prepared by the Idaho Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit to assist new car owners, auto manufacturers, and car dealers in understanding their rights and responsibilities under what is commonly know as Idaho's Lemon Law. Idaho first enacted a Lemon Law in 1988. That Act was repealed and a new one put in its place. The effective date of the new Act is July 1, 1998. The purpose of the Act is to protect car owners who buy a vehicle that is subject to an applicable manufacturer's warranty.

If you believe that you are the owner of a "lemon" motor vehicle, you are urged you to study this pamphlet carefully. You would be wise to seek the advice of any attorney who is familiar with issues relating to new car warranties and Idaho's Lemon Law. If you do not have an attorney, the name and phone number of an attorney may be obtained by contacting the Idaho Lawyer Referral Service at 334-4500 or 525 West Jefferson Street, Boise, Idaho 83702.

It is hoped that the information contained in this pamphlet will minimize conflicts or misunderstandings and assist in the peaceful resolution of lemon law disputes.


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