There are few feelings more helpless than realizing that you’ve bought a defective car. After all of the anticipation about getting a new car, the process of selecting just the right vehicle for you and your family, and the joy of driving it off the lot, it’s a huge letdown the first time it breaks down. The second time it breaks down, it’s maddening. The third time it breaks down, you wish you could sue for dealer fraud.

The good news is that you can let New York lemon laws work for you. Many people don’t realize that every state has different lemon law rules, and that, generally speaking, the lemon laws where you purchased your vehicle usually prevail.

If you live in New York and purchased or transferred your vehicle in New York, then NY’s motor vehicle lemon law would be applicable. Here’s the lowdown:

Your vehicle needs to meet certain standards in order to be considered a lemon under NY law. For example, the problem has to have occurred during the first 18,000 miles on the odometer or the first two years from the date of purchase, whichever comes first. In addition, the car has to be primarily for personal (as opposed to business) use.

While most people think that only brand new cars are covered by NY new car lemon laws, the truth is that demonstrators and certain used vehicles are covered by New York’s new car lemon law. In order for a used vehicle to be covered under new car lemon law, it must have less than 18,000 miles on the odometer and be less than two years old.

In order to be eligible to use NY lemon laws to your advantage, you have to play by the lemon law’s rules. That means that you should immediately report any problem to the dealer or the manufacturer. According to the law, a manufacturer (or its representative, such as a dealer) has a “reasonable number”  of repair attempts to fix the problem before the vehicle can be classified as a lemon. New York defines a lemon-type problem as one that still exists after four repair attempts, or after the vehicle has been out of service for a cumulative total of 30 calendar days for one or more problems.

If you think you have a car defect, it’s important that you take action as soon as possible. Manufacturers are notorious for dragging out the process, trying to run out the clock on taking responsibility. As soon as you think you have a lemon, you should contact an attorney that has knowledge of NY lemon laws. The attorneys at will evaluate your case free of charge, and can tell you the steps you need to take to protect your lemon law rights.