Idaho Lemon Law: An Overview

When does the Idaho Lemon Law apply?

Idaho lemon law applies to new vehicles that come with a manufacturer warranty. It does not generally apply to used car sales (but used car purchasers still have rights!). When you purchase a new vehicle, it will typically come with a manufacturer’s warranty. This means that the manufacturer is agreeing to repair any defects (called “non-conformities”) in the vehicle during the warranty period. Lemon law comes into play when a manufacturer (or the dealer) fails or is unable to repair the vehicle under this warranty.

Typical Lemon Law scenario

People start looking into legal recourse in two common scenarios:

  1. You purchased a new vehicle, then the engine light comes on. This is obviously upsetting. So you take the vehicle back to the dealer to get it repaired. The dealer repairs it but the light comes back on. You keeping going back and they keep trying to fix it. Then you finally get tired of it and ask the dealer to take the car back. The dealer refuses.
  2. You take your new vehicle to the dealer for repairs and it just sits there. The dealer can’t figure out what’s wrong with it or can’t get the repairs done.

Both of these situations present lemon law concerns.

What does the Idaho lemon law say?

Idaho’s lemon law is found in Idaho Code, Title 6, Chapter 9. It addresses an auto dealer’s duty to repair, how the process works, the time for repair, and the damages available.

The Duty to Repair

Idaho Code 48-902 states:

If a new motor vehicle does not conform to all applicable express warranties, and the consumer reports the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer…, the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer shall make the repairs necessary to conform the vehicle to the applicable express warranties,….

In plain English, this means the manufacturer has to fix problems with the new vehicle.

Reporting a vehicle repair under the Lemon Law

There are certain time requirements in which the consumer must notify the manufacturer (or its agent or dealer) of problems with the vehicle. The report must be made either:

  1. during the term of the applicable express warranties, or
  2. during the period of two (2) years following the date of original delivery of the new motor vehicle to a consumer, or
  3. during the period ending with the date on which the mileage on the motor vehicle reaches twenty-four thousand (24,000) miles.

The earliest of those deadlines applies.

How long does a dealer have to repair the vehicle?

The short answer is that a dealer has 30 business days to repair a new vehicle under the Idaho Lemon law. Technically, though, the lemon law states that a dealer must repair the vehicle “after a reasonable number of attempts.” Idaho Code 48-903(1). Idaho law states that a manufacturer/dealer is presumed to have had a “reasonable number of attempts” if:

(a) the same nonconformity has been subject to repair four (4) or more times … but the nonconformity continues to exist. However, the manufacturer shall have at least one (1) opportunity to attempt to repair the vehicle before it is presumed a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform the vehicle to the applicable express warranty; or
(b) the vehicle is out of service by reason of repair for a cumulative total of thirty (30) or more business days….

Based on the language of this statute, you could make a lemon law claim without the presumption applying. This would just mean that you would then have the burden to prove that the dealer/manufacturer had a reasonable number of attempts.

This is important because manufacturers may tell you that you cannot bring a lemon law claim unless you meet the presumption requirements. This is a false and misleading statement.

What if the dealer or manufacturer fails to repair the vehicle?

The Idaho lemon law allows a consumer to bring an action for damages under the lemon law itself or the consumer may have the option to assert a claim under other laws, such as the Idaho Consumer Protection Act or the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Which option to select would have to be evaluated by an attorney. Under either option, though, a consumer would be entitled to recover:

  • A refund of the purchase price
  • A refund of any other costs, such as taxes, registration fees, towing and rental vehicle expenses, etc.

The Consumer Protection Act or other state and federal laws may provide additional remedies and removes certain procedural hurdles. However, as mentioned, an attorney should help you evaluate how you would like to proceed under an Idaho lemon law dispute.