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Iowa Lemon Laws

For most people, a car or truck is a big purchase and when problems arise, we can’t afford the time and money to fix them. If you’ve bought a "lemon," that car that just doesn’t work, it can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Fortunately, Iowa has adopted lemon laws to address the issue of defective cars, so consumers don’t go broke over a car that wasn’t manufactured up to the expected standards.

Typically, state lemon laws only cover new cars, but Iowa’s code doesn’t state that it only applies to new cars, so arguably a used car with as low of miles as required by the lemon law could be covered by these laws. However, it doesn’t apply to motorcycles, RVs, and mobile homes.

What is a 'Lemon' According to Iowa Law?

A lemon is a vehicle with a recurring, major problem. The problem must substantially impair the car or truck’s use, safety, or market value. A car that doesn’t conform with any express warranty from the dealer or manufacturer within two years of purchase or 24,000 miles (whichever comes first).

A car that is defective or nonconforming to the warranty can be declared a lemon if:

  • The problem persists after three or more attempts to get it fixed.
  • A life-threatening problem persists after only one attempt to fix, if the defect is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury.
  • The vehicle is out of service for at least 30 days within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles (after 20 days the consumer must tell the manufacturer in writing and they have 10 more days to fix it).

The table below outlines the main Iowa lemon laws that consumers need to know.

Code Sections Iowa Code Chapter 3226 – Defective Motor Vehicles (Lemon Law)
Definition of Defects A defect is a nonconformity to all applicable express warranties. A nonconformity means the vehicle wasn’t fixed after three attempts or only one attempt if the defect is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury or is in the shop 30 days or more (total) for the same problem.
Time Limit for Manufacturer Repair The time limit is the term that the manufacturer's written warranty provides or the first two years following the date of original delivery of the vehicle to the consumer or the first 24,000 miles, whichever is first.
Remedies First, a consumer must file a complaint through the car manufacturer's certified informal dispute resolution process in Iowa. An oral presentation of the dispute occurs and a decision must be made within 60 days. If unsatisfied with the decision or the manufacturer doesn’t do as it agreed to, the consumer can go on to sue in district court within six months.

The manufacturer must either replace the vehicle with an identical or reasonably equivalent vehicle, including any collateral and incidental charges less a reasonable offset for the consumer’s use of the vehicle. Alternatively, the manufacturer can refund the full purchase or lease price including all collateral and reasonably incurred incidental charges, less a reasonable offset for the consumer's use of the car.

If you find yourself with a lemon, make lemonade by calling an experienced Iowa lemon law attorney. Working with a lawyer can help protect your legal rights and get you back into a functioning car.

Note: State laws are revised frequently, so speak to a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these state laws.

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