How to Sue a Car Warranty Company: A Detailed Guide

June 13, 2024

Lemon laws provide federal and state-level protection for consumers who purchase defective vehicles, commonly known as "lemons". These laws aim to alleviate financial and personal hardships caused by purchasing a defective vehicle. Consumers must meet certain criteria and follow specific steps to make claims under lemon laws. Knowing your rights under these laws is crucial before purchasing a new or certain used cars.

Manufacturer's Express Warranty

All new cars come with a manufacturer's express warranty automatically included in the sale price. This warranty must cover essential parts like the engine, transmission, drive axle, brakes, steering, and ignition system. Dealers are obligated to provide a written copy of this warranty at the time of purchase. However, if the car is bought from a private individual, lemon laws don't apply.

New York Lemon Law Criteria

Common Criteria

The manufacturer’s warranty must cover the car at original delivery. Purchase or lease should be within the first 18,000 miles or two years, whichever is earlier. The car must have a sale or lease price of at least $1,500. Additionally, the vehicle should be purchased or leased in New York or registered there, and its primary use must be for personal, family, or household purposes.


Defects that substantially impair the car’s value, termed "nonconformity," are covered. Small multiple defects can also be considered if they add up to a substantial problem. However, defects from accidents, abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications are excluded.

Process for Claiming Under Lemon Laws

Consumers should report defects immediately to the dealer, who must then notify the manufacturer within seven days. Should the dealer refuse repairs, contact the manufacturer in writing via certified mail, detailing the defect and refusal. The manufacturer has 20 days upon receiving the notice to start repairs. If defects are not resolved after a reasonable number of attempts (usually three), a refund or replacement can be requested. A car out of service for over 15 days can also be considered a lemon.

Requirements and Documentation

Document all repair attempts, keep all relevant paperwork, and note the number of days the car is out of service. Accurate paperwork and descriptions are crucial to prove that multiple repair attempts are for the same problem.

Legal Recourse

If the dealer refuses to comply with lemon laws, consumers can file a lawsuit within four years from the car’s delivery date. Winning the case may also include recovering attorney’s fees. Alternatively, state-sponsored arbitration via the New York Attorney General’s Office is an option. The arbitration process involves filling out the "Request for Arbitration" form, which can be submitted for review.

Federal Protections: Magnusson Moss Warranty Act

The federal Magnusson Moss Warranty Act covers defective vehicles and other products. Compensation under federal law differs from state law provisions. Consumers unable to meet state lemon law requirements may still find recourse under the federal act.

Understanding Warranties


Warranties are the promises manufacturers and sellers make about their products, ensuring they operate correctly and detailing their commitment to fix problems.


Warranties cover the integrity and correct operation of vehicles, including cars, SUVs, and trucks, and the commitment to repair any failures.

Types of Vehicle Warranty Claims

General Claims

Various possible claims can be made under warranty laws, including:

  • Breach of Contract
  • Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (Federal Law)
  • Various State Consumer Protection Acts, such as:
    • California Consumer Legal Remedies Act
    • California Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act
    • New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act
    • Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act
    • Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law

Specific Legal Frameworks

California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA)

This act protects consumers against unfair or deceptive practices. Legal actions include claims for selling damaged or overpriced vehicles, misrepresentation of vehicle history, and misclassification of certified pre-owned vehicles. Compensation includes damages, vehicle buyback, and litigation expenses.

California Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act

This act applies to new and used cars under warranty. It covers loss-in-value, vehicle buyback or replacement, and litigation costs.

Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

This federal law requires clear, plain-language warranty information. It applies nationwide and allows claims in state or federal court. Compensation can include monetary settlements, vehicle buyback, replacement, and litigation costs.

New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act

This act protects against deceptive sales practices. It offers triple damages as compensation and covers legal fees and court costs.

Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (OCSPA)

This act protects consumers from deceptive practices in buying, selling, or repair. It allows cancellation of purchase and awarding of both economic and non-economic damages, as well as litigation expenses.

Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL)

This act provides similar protections to OCSPA and also allows for triple damages, legal fees, and expense reimbursement.

Types of Warranties

Express Warranties

These are voluntarily made promises regarding the product or defect remedies. They can appear in various forms such as advertising, brochures, or formal documents.

Implied Warranties

These include:

  • Warranty of Merchantability: An implicit promise that the product is fit to be sold and will perform as expected.
  • Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose: A promise based on the seller’s recommendation for a specific use.

Handling Breaches

Legal Actions

Representing clients in breach of warranty claims can lead to various compensations, including financial settlements, vehicle buyback, or replacement.


Compensation often includes damages based on loss-in-value, attorneys’ fees, court costs, and expert witness expenses. State-specific acts often multiply the damages, offering significant compensation.

Practical Considerations

Consumer Protections

Lemon Laws provide specific state-level protections for new vehicles with significant defects. Beyond lemon laws, various state and federal laws provide avenues to claim compensation.

Expert Representation

Legal firms can navigate the complexities of these laws, providing critical support and maximizing the likelihood of a successful claim.

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