Lemon Law America® offers owners of defective motor vehicles resources to help them research their state's lemon law statutes, and provides links to lemon lawyers practicing in their state.
Illinois Lemon Law Statutes
Illinois Lemon Law Chapter 815 Sec. 380 (815 ILCS 380/1)
Illinois Lemon Law Sec. 1.
Illinois Lemon Law Sec. 2.
- "Consumer" means an individual who purchases or leases for a period of at least one year a new vehicle from the seller for the purposes of transporting himself and others, as well as their personal property, for primarily personal, household or family purposes.
- "Express warranty" has the same meaning, for the purposes of this Act, as it has for the purposes of the Uniform Commercial Code.
- "New vehicle" means a passenger car, as defined in Section 1-157 of The Illinois Vehicle Code, a motor vehicle of the Second Division having a weight of under 8,000 pounds, as defined in Section 1-146 of that Code, and a recreational vehicle, except for a camping trailer or travel trailer that does not qualify under the definition of a used motor vehicle, as set forth in Section 1-216 of that Code.
- "Nonconformity" refers to a new vehicle's failure to conform to all express warranties applicable to such vehicle, which failure substantially impairs the use, market value or safety of that vehicle.
- "Seller" means the manufacturer of a new vehicle, that manufacturer's agent or distributor or that manufacturer's authorized dealer. "Seller" also means, with respect to a new vehicle which is also a modified vehicle, as defined in Section 1-144.1 of The Illinois Vehicle Code, as now or hereafter amended, the person who modified the vehicle and that person's agent or distributor or that person's authorized dealer. "Seller" also means, with respect to leased new vehicles, the manufacturer, that manufacturer's agent or distributor or that manufacturer's dealer, who transfers the right to possession and use of goods under a lease.
- "Statutory warranty period" means the period of one year or 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first after the date of the delivery of a new vehicle to the consumer who purchased or leased it.
- "Lease cost" includes deposits, fees, taxes, down payments, periodic payments, and any other amount paid to a seller by a consumer in connection with the lease of a new vehicle. (Source: P.A. 89-375, eff. 8-18-95.) (815 ILCS 380/3)
Illinois Lemon Law Sec. 3.
- If after a reasonable number of attempts the seller is unable to conform the new vehicle to any of its applicable express warranties, the manufacturer shall either provide the consumer with a new vehicle of like model line, if available, or otherwise a comparable motor vehicle as a replacement, or accept the return of the vehicle from the consumer and refund to the consumer the full purchase price or lease cost of the new vehicle, including all collateral charges, less a reasonable allowance for consumer use of the vehicle. For purposes of this Section, "collateral charges" does not include taxes paid by the purchaser on the initial purchase of the new vehicle. The retailer who initially sold the vehicle may file a claim for credit for taxes paid pursuant to the terms of Sections 6, 6a, 6b, and 6c of the Retailers' Occupation Tax Act. Should the vehicle be converted, modified or altered in a way other than the manufacturer's original design, the party which performed the conversion or modification shall be liable under the provisions of this Act, provided the part or parts causing the vehicle not to perform according to its warranty were altered or modified.
- A presumption that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform a new vehicle to its express warranties shall arise where, within the statutory warranty period, (1) the same nonconformity has been subject to repair by the seller, its agents or authorized dealers during the statutory warranty period, 4 or more times, and such nonconformity continues to exist; or (2) the vehicle has been out of service by reason of repair of nonconformities for a total of 30 or more business days during the statutory warranty period.
- A reasonable allowance for consumer use of a vehicle is that amount directly attributable to the wear and tear incurred by the new vehicle as a result of its having been used prior to the first report of a nonconformity to the seller, and during any subsequent period in which it is not out of service by reason of repair.
- The fact that a new vehicle's failure to conform to an express warranty is the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or alterations is an affirmative defense to claims brought under this Act.
- The statutory warranty period of a new vehicle shall be suspended for any period of time during which repair services are not available to the consumer because of a war, invasion or strike, or a fire, flood or other natural disaster.
- Refunds made pursuant to this Act shall be made to the consumer, and lien holder if any exists, as their respective interests appear.
- For the purposes of this Act, a manufacturer sells a new vehicle to a consumer when he provides that consumer with a replacement vehicle pursuant to subsection (a).
- In no event shall the presumption herein provided apply against a manufacturer, his agent, distributor or dealer unless the manufacturer has received prior direct written notification from or on behalf of the consumer, and has an opportunity to correct the alleged defect. (Source: P.A. 89-359, eff. 8-17-95; 89-375, eff. 8-18-95; 89-626, eff. 8-9-96.) (815 ILCS 380/4)
Illinois Lemon Law Sec. 4.
The provisions of subsection (a) of Section 3 shall not apply unless the consumer has first resorted to an informal settlement procedure applicable to disputes to which that subsection would apply where
- The manufacturer of the new vehicle has established such a procedure;
- The procedure conforms: (i) substantially with the provisions of Title 16, Code of Federal Regulation, Part 703, as from time to time amended, and (ii) to the requirements of subsection (c); and
- The consumer has received from the seller adequate written notice of the existence of the procedure. Adequate written notice includes but is not limited to the incorporation of the informal dispute settlement procedure into the terms of the written warranty to which the vehicle does not conform.
- If the consumer is dissatisfied with the decision reached in an informal dispute settlement procedure or the results of such a decision, he may bring a civil action to enforce his rights under subsection (a) of Section 3. The decision reached in the informal dispute settlement procedure is admissible in such a civil action. The period of limitations for a civil action to enforce a consumer's rights or remedies under subsection (a) of Section 3 shall be extended for a period equal to the number of days the subject matter of the civil action was pending in the informal dispute settlement procedure.
- A disclosure of the decision in an informal dispute settlement procedure shall include notice to the consumer of the provisions of subsection (b). (Source: P.A. 85-1350.) (815 ILCS 380/5)
Illinois Lemon Law Sec. 5.
Illinois Lemon Law Sec. 6.
Illinois Lemon Law Sec. 7.
Illinois Lemon Law Sec. 8.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a Federal Law that protects the buyer of any product which costs more than $25 and comes with an express written warranty. This law applies to any product that you buy that does not perform as it should.
Your car is a major investment, rationalized by the peace of mind that flows from its expected dependability and safety. Accordingly, you are entitled to expect an automobile properly constructed and regulated to provide reasonably safe, trouble-free, and dependable transportation – regardless of the exact make and model you bought. Unfortunately, sometimes these principles do not hold true and defects arise in automobiles. Although one defect is not actionable, repeated defects are as there exists a generally accepted rule that unsuccessful repair efforts render the warrantor liable. Simply put, there comes a time when “enough is enough” – when after having to take your car into the shop for repairs an inordinate number of times and experiencing all of the attendant inconvenience, you are entitled to say, ‘That’s all,’ and revoke, notwithstanding the seller’s repeated good faith efforts to fix the car. The rationale behind these basic principles is clear: once your faith in the vehicle is shaken, the vehicle loses its real value to you and becomes an instrument whose integrity is impaired and whose operation is fraught with apprehension. The question thus becomes when is “enough”?
As you know, enough is never enough from your warrantor’s point of view and you should simply continue to have your defective vehicle repaired – time and time again. However, you are not required to allow a warrantor to tinker with your vehicle indefinitely in the hope that it may eventually be fixed. Rather, you are entitled to expect your vehicle to be repaired within a reasonable opportunity. To this end, both the federal Moss Warranty Act, and the various state “lemon laws,” require repairs to your vehicle be performed within a reasonable opportunity.
Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a warrantor should perform adequate repairs in at least two, and possibly three, attempts to correct a particular defect. Further, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act’s reasonableness requirement applies to your vehicle as a whole rather than to each individual defect that arises. Although most of the Lemon Laws vary from state to state, each individual law usually require a warrantor to cure a specific defect within four to five attempts or the automobile as a whole within thirty days. If the warrantor fails to meet this obligation, most of the lemon laws provide for a full refund or new replacement vehicle. Further, this reasonable number of attempts/reasonable opportunity standard, whether it be that of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or that of the Lemon Laws, is akin to strict liability – once this threshold has been met, the continued existence of a defect is irrelevant and you are still entitled to relief.
One of the most important parts of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is its fee shifting provision. This provision provides that you may recover the attorney fees incurred in the prosecution of your case if you are successful – independent of how much you actually win. That rational behind this fee shifting provision is to twofold: (1) to ensure you will be able to vindicate your rights without having to expend large sums on attorney's fees and (2) because automobile manufacturers are able to write off all expenses of defense as a legitimate business expense, whereas you, the average consumer, obviously does not have that kind of economic staying power. Most of the Lemon Laws contain similar fee shifting provisions.
You may also derive additional warranty rights from the Uniform Commercial Code; however, the Code does not allow you in most states to recover your attorney fees and is also not as consumer friendly as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or the various state lemon laws.
The narrative information on Magnuson-Moss, UCC and Illinois lemon laws on these pages is provided by Marshall Meyers, attorney.
Uniform Commercial Code Summary
The Uniform Commercial Code or UCC has been enacted in all 50 states and some of the territories of the United States. It is the primary source of law in all contracts dealing with the sale of products. The TARR refers to Tender, Acceptance, Rejection, Revocation and applies to different aspects of the consumer's "relationship" with the purchased goods.
TENDER - The tender provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code contained in Section2-601 provide that the buyer is entitled to reject any goods that fail in any respect to conform to the contract. Unfortunately, new cars are often technically complex and their innermost workings are beyond the understanding of the average new car buyer. The buyer, therefore, does not know whether the goods are then conforming.
ACCEPTANCE - The new car buyer accepts the goods believing and expecting that the manufacturer will repair any problem he has with the goods under the warranty.
REJECTION - The new car buyer may discover a problem with the vehicle within the first few miles of his purchase. This would allow the new car buyer to reject the goods. If the new car buyer discovers a defect in the car within a reasonable time to inspect the vehicle, he may reject the vehicle. This period is not defined. On the one hand, the buyer must be given a reasonable time to inspect and that reasonable time to inspect will be held as an acceptance of the vehicle. The Courts will decide this reasonable time to inspect based on the knowledge and experience of the buyer, the difficulty in discovering the defect, and the opportunity to discover the defect. The following is an example of a case of rejection: Mr. Zabriskie purchase a new 1966 Chevrolet Biscayne. After picking up the car on Friday evening, while en route to his home 2.5 miles away, and within 7/10ths of a mile from the dealership, the car stalled and stalled again within 15 feet. Thereafter, the car would only drive in low gear. The buyer rejected the vehicle and stopped payment on his check. The dealer contended that the buyer could not reject the car because he had driven it around the block and that was his reasonable opportunity to inspect. The New Jersey Court said;
To the layman, the complicated mechanisms of today's automobile are a complete mystery. To have the automobile inspected by someone with sufficient expertise to disassemble the vehicle in order the discover latent defects before the contract is signed, is assuredly impossible and highly impractical. Consequently, the first few miles of driving become even more significant to the excited new car buyer. This is the buyer's first reasonable opportunity to enjoy his new vehicle to see if it conforms to what it was represented to be and whether he is getting what he bargained for. How long the buyer may drive the new car under the guise of inspection of new goods is not an issue in the present case because 7/10th of a mile is clearly within the ambit of a reasonable opportunity to inspect. Zabriskie Chevrolet, Inc. v. Smith, 240 A. 2d 195(1968)
It is suggested that Courts will tend to excuse use by consumers if possible.
REVOCATION - What happens when the consumer has used the new car for a lengthy period of time? This is the typical lemon car case. The UCC provides that a buyer may revoke his acceptance of goods whose non-conformity substantially impairs the value of the goods to him when he has accepted the goods without discovery of a non-conformity because it was difficult to discover or if he was assured that non-conformities would be repaired. Of course, the average new car buyer does not learn of the nonconformity until hundreds of thousands of miles later. And because quality is job one, and manufacturers are competing on the basis of their warranties, the consumer always is assured that any noncomformities he does discover will be remedied. What is a noncomformity substantially impairing the value of the vehicle?
- A noncomformity may include a number of relatively minor defects whose cumulative total adds up to a substantial impairment. This is the "Shake Faith" Doctrine first stated in the Zabrisikie case. "For a majority of people the purchase of a new car is a major investment, rationalized by the peace of mind that flows from its dependability and safety. Once their faith is shaken, the vehicle loses not only its real value in their eyes, but becomes an instrument whose integrity is substantially impaired and whose operation is fraught with apprehension".
- A substantial noncomformity may include a failure or refusal to repair the goods under the warranty. In Durfee V. Rod Baxter Imports, the Minnesota Court held that the Saab owner that was plagued by a series of of annoying minor defects and stalling, which were never repaired after a number of attempts, could revoke, "if repairs are not successfully undertaken within a reasonable time", the consumer may elect to revoke.
- Substantial Non Conformity and Lemon Laws often define what may be considered a substantial impairment. These definitions have been successfully used to flesh out the substantial impairment in the UCC.
Additional narrative information on Magnusson-Moss, UCC and Illinois lemon laws on these pages is provided by T. Michael Flinn, attorney.