Iowa car customers can seek relief from a defective warrantied vehicle through two separate laws: the Iowa state lemon law and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
Both state lemon law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protect consumers who unknowingly purchase defective vehicles, known as “lemons,” and compensate them for their losses. There are certain limitations, however, regarding whom the laws assist and the time period covered. Knowing which law to use when seeking relief can help your case resolve efficiently and fairly.
Consumers in Iowa must file a state lemon law claim within one year of the expiration of the lemon law rights period. The Iowa lemon law defines this period as ending with the expiration of the manufacturer’s written warranty or 24 months after the vehicle’s original delivery, or 24,000 miles after that delivery; whichever is sooner. For example, if a consumer purchases a vehicle and it develops problems two years later, they have one year to file a state lemon law claim. However if the vehicle has traveled 22,000 miles at this point, they must file a claim before traveling an additional 2,000 miles.
Importantly, an Iowa consumer should seek the assistance of a lemon law attorney to determine the time remaining, if any, to file an Iowa state lemon law claim and whether it makes good sense to do so in light of the underlying circumstances.
Those initiating a complaint using the state’s lemon law must undergo arbitration before the law’s repurchase or replacement provisions apply. While arbitration can be faster and less formal than filing a civil lawsuit, it has a number of downsides and rarely resolves favorably for the consumer.
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The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1974 borrows the statute of limitations from the state in which the breach of warranty occurs. In the state of Iowa, the statute of limitations for breach of warranty claims is five years for a breach of implied warranty and 10 years for a breach of express warranty. Therefore, the statute of limitations for federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claims in Iowa is five or ten years, depending on the type of warranty breached.
Because Magnuson-Moss is a federal law, it supersedes any state law and can be pursued even if the state lemon law’s technical requirements are not met. Furthermore, the Act provides the vehicle manufacturer shall pay the claimant’s attorneys’ fees if the claimant prevails against the manufacturer. Lemon law attorneys exist that will only collect attorneys’ fees if they succeed in obtaining a financial recovery for their clients.
Hiring a lawyer to assist in your lemon law case is a prudent decision. Lawyers act as both their client’s guide and advocate within the legal system. The law contains innumerable technicalities and pitfalls that may seem minor to a layperson, but can seriously and adversely affect a lemon law case if ignored. Courts do not go lightly on those who do not understand or follow standard legal rules and procedures.
If you bought a lemon car and cannot get any help from the manufacturer, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified lemon law attorney. They have the experience and expertise needed to get you the justice you deserve.