The Iowa Lemon Law is designed to allow car owners to pursue complaints independently. We hope this information will help answer your questions about the Lemon Law. For legal advice, and questions about your specific vehicle concerns, you should consider contacting a private attorney.
Does Your Vehicle Qualify?
Before you pursue your complaints under the Iowa Lemon Law, it is important for you to determine whether your vehicle meets the basic eligibility requirements. If your vehicle does not meet all three of the qualifications listed below you cannot take action under the Iowa Lemon Law and should consider seeking legal advice from a private attorney.
To qualify as a “lemon” under the Lemon Law, a vehicle must:
- Be under two years old, and
- Have less than 24,000 miles on it, and
- Weigh less than 15,000 lbs. (Weight is listed on vehicle title and registration. Average weight for new vehicles produced in model year 2015 = 4,305 lbs. -- www.epa.gov).
NOTE: Motorcycles, mopeds, motor tricycles, and RVs do not qualify for the Lemon Law.
Additionally, to qualify as a “lemon” under the Lemon Law, your vehicle must have a problem or defect that renders the vehicle unfit, unreliable, or unsafe for ordinary use or significantly diminishes the value of the vehicle that occurred during the Lemon Law rights period.
To qualify as a “lemon” under the Iowa Lemon Law, one or more of the following must be true:
- The vehicle has been in the shop three or more times for the same problem and the problem still exists;
- The vehicle has been in the shop one time due to a defect likely to cause serious bodily injury or death and the problem still exists;
- The vehicle has been out of service for any number of problems for 20 or more days, and a problem still exists. The days do not need to be consecutive.
Taking Action: Notify the Manufacturer
If your vehicle meets the qualifications above, the manufacturer gets one more chance to fix the problem. You must notify the manufacturer of the problem by certified, registered, or overnight mail.
The Motor Vehicle Defect Notification printable form can be used as your notification to the manufacturer. Keep a copy of the completed form and any other materials you mail to the manufacturer. Your notice must go directly to the manufacturer (contact the manufacturer if you are unsure of the correct address).
To support your allegations, it is important that you keep copies of all repair orders for each time the vehicle has been in the repair facility for repair or diagnosis.
For warranty repairs, repair facilities are required to provide you with a fully-itemized, legible statement or repair order stating:
- Any diagnosis made
- All work performed on the motor vehicle (including a general description of the problem reported by the consumer)
- The date and the odometer reading when the motor vehicle was submitted for examination or repair
- The date when the repair or examination was completed.
Include copies of these documents with your letter to the manufacturer, along with a written statement of what you want done to resolve your complaint. Inform the manufacturer that you seek a reply within 10 days of receipt of your letter.
The manufacturer should then contact you with the name and address of a repair facility (accessible to you) where a final attempt will be made to repair your vehicle. If the manufacturer does not contact you within 10 days, you are not required to give the manufacturer another chance to fix the vehicle.
If the Manufacturer Fails to Respond and/or Fix Your Vehicle
If the manufacturer fails to respond within 10 days, or the repair facility chosen by the manufacturer is unable to fix the problem during the final repair attempt, you can request that the manufacturer replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price. You can request this replacement or repurchase through the initial Motor Vehicle Defect Notification Form to the manufacturer. However, evaluations of your use of the “lemon” vehicle may reduce the amount of your refund to slightly less than the purchase price.
If Your Complaint Remains Unsatisfied: Filing a Lawsuit
If the manufacturer has a certified dispute program, you must proceed through the program before filing suit. If the manufacturer's program is not certified, you may still choose to submit your claim to the program and, possibly, avoid costly litigation. Click here for a list of certified and non-certified manufacturer dispute resolution programs.
If after taking these steps your complaint remains unresolved, you may file a lawsuit against the manufacturer under the Lemon Law.
You must file a lawsuit under the Lemon Law within one year of whichever occurs first:
- The expiration of the manufacturer's express warranty
- The first 24,000 miles attributed to a consumer, or
- The first two (2) years of ownership
To file a lawsuit under the Iowa Lemon Law, you will need to contact a private attorney. If you do not have an attorney, you may wish to visit the Iowa Bar Association’s Find-A-Lawyer service at, www.IowaFindALawyer.com, to locate a licensed attorney in your area.
If your Vehicle Does Not Qualify Under the Lemon Law and More Information
You may have other legal recourse against the manufacturer, even if your vehicle does not qualify under the Lemon Law. Contact a private attorney for further information. To view the full text of Iowa's Lemon Law (Iowa Code Chapter 322G: Defective Motor Vehicles), click here.
To report or inquire about a vehicle safety issue, contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at www.safercar.gov, or call the U.S. Department of Transportation's Vehicle Safety Hotline, toll-free, at 1-888-327-4236 (or 1-800-424-9153 for hearing impaired callers).
888-777-4590 (outside of the Des Moines metro area)
Office of the Attorney General of Iowa
Consumer Protection Division
Hoover State Office Building
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0106