The Rhode Island lemon law covers vehicles with major non-conformity defects. Owners of newly purchased vehicles may file for a claim under the state’s law if the manufacturer is unable to resolve the issue.

Time limits and deadlines apply. Not all vehicles qualify for benefits and not all defects are eligible for a claim. A defect must affect the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safety and as it was designed.

Unsatisfactory settlements may be disputed through the Rhode Island court system. The used car lemon law adheres to slightly different guidelines. Motorists can read the sections below for more information on protections from faulty and defective new vehicles.

What is the Lemon Law in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island’s law regarding lemons applies to new vehicles with severe defects. Not all vehicles are eligible and not all defects are covered under the law. The following eligibility requirements must be met for the law’s protection to apply.

  • The vehicle must be a passenger car, a truck, a motorcycle or a van. Leased vehicles are considered new under this law and can be included in a claim.
  • The vehicle must weigh less than 10,000 pounds.
  • The vehicle must be sold after 1984. Leased and replaced vehicles are also subject to this rule.

Owners must make reasonable attempts to fix new-car lemon law defects within a set time period. There are two types of reasonable repair procedures available to eligible consumers:

  1. At least four attempts must be made to fix one defect that remains unresolved; or
  2. The vehicle is deemed out-of-service for 30 days due to the defect, which remains unresolved.

Both of the above options must occur within one year or 15,000 miles after the purchase date. Once all of the eligibility requirements have been met, consumers may file for a claim through the state lemon law vehicle arbitration board.

Does the Rhode Island Lemon Law apply to used cars?

The lemon law definition includes used cars bought in Rhode Island. However, these cars adhere to slightly different eligibility requirements. Owners must submit their vehicles for repairs for the same defect at least three times during the manufacturer’s vehicle warranty.

Alternately, used cars must be out-of-service for 15 days within the warranty period to qualify. Depending on when the vehicle was first purchased, you may have a much shorter time-frame to recognize and submit your vehicle for repairs.

Although they are permitted, used car law claims are less common as the original warranty typically expires under the ownership of the vehicle’s first titleholder. This does not mean that used cars are not protected.

Read the warranty of the vehicle and any extended warranties you signed with the dealership. The law does not cover new or used motorized campers.

How does the Lemon Law work in Rhode Island?

Once a vehicle has been classified as a lemon, owners must inform the manufacturer or dealership that a claim under the law is being filed.

Exceptions to this rule may apply. If the defect cannot be resolved, you may request an arbitration hearing through the Rhode Island’s consumer protection unit. In order to submit this request, consumers must complete an arbitration application form.

Follow the below steps to complete the form:

  • Use black ink and do not write on the reverse side of the form. The form requires your personal information, contact details, defect information and vehicle description.
  • Sign the form and have the application notarized. Notarizations are not required for company-owned vehicles.
  • Include the letter of notification sent to the manufacturer, if applicable.
  • Include any and all applicable fees. Certified checks or money orders are acceptable forms of payment. Do not send cash in the mail.
  • Send all car lemon law forms and payments to the arbitration board.

After you have submitted your application, the board will decide whether the claim is valid under the law. If accepted, a hearing will be scheduled. It is the consumer’s responsibility to provide proof of the defect and defend his or her case.

Successful claims will result in a refund or replacement vehicle being issued to the consumer. The lemon law buyback policy permits dealers to repurchase the vehicle from the owner at the same price that was originally paid.

Additional restrictions and deductions may apply. Replaced vehicles must be a comparable match to the original vehicle.

Rhode Island Lemon Law Lawyers

An experienced lawyer can help you fight an unsatisfactory verdict. Hiring a lemon law attorney early on will help you better understand the options in front of you and the legal avenues you can take. There are two situations that may specifically call for an experienced lawyer:

  1. The dealer or manufacturer is not honoring the rules and policies laid out in the warranty agreement. Seeking legal assistance will help you recognize when the law is being violated, even within the lemon law itself.
  2. The verdict is not satisfactory and you wish to take further legal action. Having an attorney help you build your case and offer advice on the proceedings will give you a deeper insight into whether the verdict is indeed unfair.

In addition to the above points, arbitration hearings and court cases require a detailed review of records, documents and proof. Expert lemon law attorneys are equipped with the tools to help collect and submit your case with greater efficiency.

In some cases, disputes may be completed via the Better Business Bureau or through the manufacturer’s settlement agreements. These cases follow separate regulations and may require a specialized attorney.

Additional New and Used Car Laws in Rhode Island

Used cars cannot be sold by private parties if they have not met certain state inspection standards.

This law protects buyers from purchasing used cars with existing defects. In addition to the state and federal lemon laws, Rhode Island also provides protection for victims of the Volkswagen emission violation.

Under the settlement agreements, eligible consumers may receive reimbursements for their vehicle or receive a modification. A lemon law warranty is included in a newly modified vehicle to protect consumers against further defects.

Both vehicle owners and lessees are subject to these benefits.

How to Tell if Your New Car Is a Lemon in Rhode Island

Not all vehicles are classified as a lemon. It is important to read your lemon law warranty agreement thoroughly before purchasing a new or used car.

If your vehicle meets the above-mentioned eligibly requirements and the defect is not caused by a disqualifying factor, your car may be a lemon.

When buying a car, make sure to conduct thorough research on the type of car and the manufacturer. When getting a used or pre-owned car, a vehicle history report can help you determine if the car is right for you.

Last updated on Wednesday, September 23 2020.