The Iowa Lemon Law

The Iowa lemon law covers all Iowans with a defective new vehicle, allowing them to claim compensation if the problem meets certain criteria.

Does the IA Lemon Law Cover My Vehicle?

The lemon law in Iowa covers new vehicles purchased or leased in the state, for 24 months from the original date of delivery, or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. It protects you if your vehicle meets one of these three criteria...

  • Your vehicle has been repaired at least three times for the same defect during the coverage period, and the problem still exists.

  • It has been repaired one time for a defect that could cause serious injury or death, and the problem still exists.

  • It has been out of service for one or more defects for 20 or more calendar days, and the problem still exists.

Motorcycles, mopeds, motor homes (recreational vehicles, or RVs) and vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds are not covered by the Iowa lemon law.

The defect must make the vehicle unreliable, unfit or unsafe for ordinary driving, or significantly reduce its market value. And it cannot be due to abuse, negligence, accidents or unauthorized modifications to the vehicle.

I'm Driving an Iowa Lemon. What Can I Do?

You must notify the manufacturer in writing once your claim meets the criteria above. Mail your letter by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested. Include copies of your notes, all service orders and work invoices, and any other supporting documentation you have. Remember to photocopy your letter and keep the copy for your records.

The manufacturer then has one more chance to fix the defect. It must respond to you within 10 days after receiving your letter. It then has 10 days from the day you make the lemon vehicle available to fix the defect. If it does not reply within 10 days, or does not (or cannot) fix the defect within the 10 day period, then you can proceed with your claim.

Arbitration or Law Suit?

The Iowa lemon law requires that you use an informal dispute resolution process run or used by the manufacturer before you can file a law suit. Any arbitration decision made through this process is normally binding on the manufacturer but not on you. If you disagree with the decision, you can then file a law suit. You must file your suit within one year of the end of the 24 month/24,000 mile period, whichever comes first.

If you choose to file a law suit, I recommend that you consult a lemon law attorney, a lawyer with experience dealing with the Iowa lemon law.

Refund or Replacement?

Under the lemon law in Iowa, you have the choice of a replacement vehicle or a refund.

If you choose a replacement, you must first pay a reasonable use fee to the manufacturer. You will then be given a vehicle of equivalent or higher value, usually the same make and model with the same dealer-installed options.

If you choose a refund, and the amount you will receive is higher than the reasonable use fee, the fee will be deducted from what you are owed. You will be refunded the full contract purchase price, plus any trade-in allowance, sales tax, and title and registration fees. You may also be eligible for reimbursement of reasonable costs for towing and alternative transportation due to the defect and its repair.

Iowa Lemon Law Summary

The lemon law in Iowa gives all owners and lessees of new vehicles the right to compensation should their vehicles develop unfixable defects. You can elect to receive a replacement vehicle or a refund of the full purchase price.

NOTE:The information here is not legal advice and is only presented to you so you can know your options if you purchased a lemon. As with any legal issue, you should seek the advice of a qualified attorney.


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