Senate Approves Buono Expansion Of Lemon Law

TRENTON – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono that would better protect consumers under the State’s “Lemon Law” for new car purchases.

The Senate unanimously approved S-534, which would amend the “Lemon Law,” which protects purchasers of new automobiles or motorcycles. The bill would expand protection under the law from two years or 18,000 miles to 2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.

“The 18,000 miles provided for under the current law is no longer representative of how many miles the average New Jersey family puts on a car in two years, said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “Drivers commute much farther today than when the law was enacted 15 years ago.”

Under the bill, dealers would have to fix a defect on the first try, or replace the vehicle outright, if that defect may cause serious bodily injury. The current law gives dealers up to three attempts to fix a defect, but does not differentiate between problems with the braking system and problems with the air conditioning. For non-lethal defects, dealers would be held to the previous standard.

“When safety is a concern, three repair attempts is two too many,” explained Senator Buono. “There is a major difference between an inconvenient oversight like a malfunctioning radio and the possibility that your car won’t stop when you hit the brakes. Our drivers shouldn’t have to put themselves at risk two or three times before they get a car that provides the safe transportation we expect when buying a new car.”

Senator Buono’s bill also requires that dealers provide information regarding the State’s “Lemon Law” protection Owner’s Warranty Rights Notification booklet, to ensure that the information gets to the consumer.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36-0 and now awaits consideration by the Assembly.

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