The New Hampshire Lemon Law
The New Hampshire lemon law protects the owners of new vehicles that turn out to be lemons.
Does the NH Lemon Law Cover My Vehicle?
The lemon law in New Hampshire covers new vehicles only, and only for those purchased from NH dealerships. "New" in this case means vehicles still covered by the manufacturer's warranty, so coverage lasts until the warranty expires.
Cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and vans, motorcycles and any other four-wheel vehicles less than 9,000 pounds are covered by the law. Off road vehicles and mopeds are not covered.
The defect must substantially impair the use of or safety of the vehicle, or substantially reduce its value. It cannot be due to abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications to the vehicle.
The manufacturer must have attempted at least three repairs, at the same dealership or repair facility, or the vehicle must have been out of service due to defects or other warranty non conformities for at least 30 business days.
You cannot have stopped making financing or lease payments on your vehicle because of the defect.
I Have a New Hampshire Lemon. What's the Next Step?
Important Note: The New Hampshire lemon law requires that all manufacturers provide, at the time of purchase, all NH vehicle purchasers with a "demand for arbitration" form with which to start the lemon complaint process.
Mail the completed form (keep a copy for yourself) along with the disclosure notice that you received when you purchased the vehicle, by certified mail, return receipt requested. Photocopy all supporting documentation, including your notes, work requests and repair orders, and anything else that you think applies to your claim, and include them with your form.
Your form must state whether you want to use the manufacturer's dispute resolution system or the state's Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, a five-person panel consisting of consumers, manufacturers' representatives, and motor vehicle experts.
You must also remit a $50 filing fee.
Arbitration or Law Suit?
You must use either the manufacturer's system or the state arbitration board to settle your dispute before you can go to the courts. Arbitration must begin within 40 days of the manufacturer receiving your notice.
Within that 40 day period, the manufacturer is allowed one final repair attempt. If that repair attempt fails, you are entitled to a refund or replacement of the lemon vehicle.
If you choose the manufacturer's system, you are not bound by the decision, and can appeal it in court. The MVAB's decision can be appealed only if you think the board exceeded its powers or refused to postpone a hearing for sufficient cause, or there was partiality or misconduct by board members, or the decision was procured by corruption, fraud or other means.
If you want to proceed with a law suit, I recommend that you consult a lemon law attorney, a lawyer with experience dealing with the New Hampshire lemon law.
Refund or Replacement?
The New Hampshire lemon law allows you to choose between a replacement and a refund of the purchase price.
If you choose a replacement, you will receive a vehicle comparable in value, make and model, with the same dealer-installed options, as your lemon vehicle.
If you choose a refund, you'll receive the full contract purchase price, including any trade-in allowance, plus license and registration fees, finance and/or credit charges, and any other incidental or consequential damages.
The manufacturer can retain a reasonable use fee based on the full purchase price and the miles driven before the first repair attempt of the defect. This is an excellent reason to monitor your vehicle and report any defect, no matter how small, as soon as you notice it.
Payments go to you and any lien holder, based on you what you currently still owe on the vehicle.
If you leased the vehicle, you will receive your down payment plus all lease payments already made, less a reasonable allowance for use based on your down payment and payments to date, plus the miles driven before the first repair attempt.
New Hampshire Lemon Law Summary
The lemon law in New Hampshire covers all vehicles still covered by the original manufacturer's warranty. After three repair attempts or 30 business days out of service, you can claim a refund or replacement through the manufacturer's informal dispute resolution system or the state's Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board.
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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