Senate Approves Buono/Scutari Bill To Strengthen ‘Lemon Law’

TRENTON – The Senate 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.

“The driving habits of New Jersey residents have dramatically changed in the 17 years since the Lemon Law was first passed. It’s definitely well past time for an upgrade,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “With drivers commuting much farther today than they did two decades ago, 18,000 miles no longer provides the coverage the average car buyer deserves.”

The Senators’ bill S-454, 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 requiring the car 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 someone’s safety is at risk, three repair attempts are two too many,” explained Senator Scutari. “There is a major difference a malfunctioning radio and failing brakes and the law needs to reflect that difference. There should be no second chances when it comes to driver safety and this bill follows the motto – better safe than sorry.”

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 Senate by a vote of 35-2 and now awaits consideration by the Assembly.

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