If you’ve recently purchased a new car in Illinois, only to find out later on that it has one or more serious defects or issues, you’re not alone. Contrary to what some believe, choosing to buy new instead of pre-owned isn’t a guaranteed way to avoid potential problems.
New cars can also occasionally have manufacturer’s defects and undetected issues. However, all fifty states – Illinois included – have lemon laws on the books to ensure consumers receive proper compensation in those situations.
Still, it’s crucial to understand how the Illinois vehicle lemon law works before you jump into filing a claim. Here are some key questions every consumer should ask themselves when considering their options.
1. “Is my vehicle covered?”
The Illinois Lemon Law doesn’t cover used vehicles, so you’ll need to look into other options if your new purchase was pre-owned. It’s also important to know that while the law does cover most new vehicles (including many recreational vehicles), it doesn’t cover every possibility.
To be eligible for compensation under Illinois’s state lemon law, a larger everyday vehicle – like a truck or van – must weigh under 8,000 pounds. The vehicle also must be something purchased for personal, household, or general family use.
2. “Am I within the required time limit for a claim?”
Lemon laws don’t apply indefinitely, so it’s important to start looking into your options as soon as you suspect you could be dealing with a defective vehicle.
To be eligible for compensation, you must file your claim within a year of receiving your newly purchased vehicle or before you hit 12,000 miles, whichever milestone rolls around first.
3. “Have I given the manufacturer enough chance to fix the issue?”
Realizing you have a defective vehicle on your hands and filing a claim isn’t enough to successfully obtain compensation. First, the manufacturer must be given a reasonable opportunity to address the problems via a standard repair process.
What constitutes a reasonable opportunity can vary from one state to the next, but in Illinois, “reasonable” usually falls around four or five attempts. In some cases, you may also be required to grant the manufacturer one final attempt once you start the claim process.
4. “Did I purchase my vehicle in Illinois?”
It’s not enough to simply live in Illinois if you want to file a lemon claim within the state. The Illinois Lemon Law only applies to new vehicles purchased within the state. If you purchased yours out of state, look into the specifics of that state’s lemon law instead.
5. “Have I altered or upgraded my vehicle?”
Illinois’s state lemon law only applies to new vehicles that haven’t been upgraded, altered, or modified in any way since driving them off the lot. Unfortunately, having a vehicle upgraded at any point opens the door to the possibility that the issue you’re dealing with isn’t actually the manufacturer’s fault.
However, special features added at the factory or otherwise requested at the time of purchase do not nullify lemon law eligibility in any way. As long as your vehicle hasn’t been modified since you first received it, you’re covered.
6. “Have I spoken to a professional about my options?”
Any time you’re thinking about filing any legal claim, it’s important to speak with a legal professional first. A professional can help ensure everything’s handled by the book and that you stand the best possible chance of getting what you’re entitled to.
For best results, make sure the attorney or firm you choose is not only based in Illinois but familiar with lemon law cases, in particular. You should also do this sooner rather than later. The earlier in the process you get a lawyer involved, the better you can expect your entire case to go.