Senate Approves Buono/Scutari Bill Expanding Lemon Law

TRENTON – The Senate Commerce Committee today approved legislation sponsored by Senators Barbara Buono and Nicholas Scutari that would better protect consumers under the State’s “Lemon Law” for new car purchases by expanding coverage from 18,000 miles to 24,000 miles.

“New Jersey’s Lemon Law is over 17 years old. Given that our driving habits have changed in that time, the law needs to be updated,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “Drivers commute much farther today and 18,000 miles no longer provides the coverage the average car buyer deserves.”

The Committee approved S-454, which would amend the “Lemon Law,” which protects purchasers of new automobiles or motorcycles. The bill would expand protection under the law from 18,000 miles to 24,000 miles but keep the maximum time of the protection at two years.

In addition, the bill would create a distinction in the “Lemon Law” between general defects and defects that are “likely to cause death or serious bodily injury.” For those defects that are likely to cause death or serious bodily injury, the manufacturer would have just one chance to fix the defect before the car would have to be replaced. For non-lethal defects, dealers would be held to the current standard which allows three attempts to fix the defect before replacing the vehicle.

“When safety is a concern, three repair attempts are two too many,” explained Senator Scutari. “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.”

The Senators’ 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 Committee by a vote of 5-0 and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

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