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Lemon Law for Used Cars in Hawaii

Hawaii's Used Car Lemon Law applies to consumers who buy used vehicles from a dealer in Hawaii. The law says that dealers have to provide buyers with a written warranty against defects that impair the vehicles' use or safety.

The law covers used cars, vans, trucks, and demonstration vehicles that aren't covered by the New Car Lemon Law, and that are sold by a Hawaii dealer, the dealer must provide a written disclosure of all material defects known to the dealer and whether any inspections have been conducted, as well as a written warranty on covered major mechanical parts of the vehicle if they fall during a specified warranty period. Used cars that must have warranties must meet the following conditions: the vehicle must be less than five years old; must cost more than $1,500; must have between 12,000 and 74,999 miles; is not custom built or modified for show purposes or racing; and is not inoperable or deemed a "total loss."

Used Car Warranty Term

According to Hawaii's Used Car Lemon Law, the length of the required warranty is based on the vehicle's mileage. If the mileage at the time of purchase was less than 25,000, the warranty lasts for 90 days or 5,000 miles, whichever comes first. If the mileage at the time of purchase was 25,000 to 49,999, the warranty lasts for 60 days or 3,00 miles, whichever comes first. If the mileage at the time of purchase was 50,000 to 74,999, the warranty lasts for 30 days or 1,000 miles, whichever comes first.

The warranty is extended one day for each day the vehicle is out of service for repairs.

Used Car Warranty Coverage

According to Hawaii's Used Car Lemon Law, the warranty must cover only the following specified major mechanical parts:

  • Engine, including all lubricated parts, water pump, fuel pump, manifolds, engine block, cylinder head, rotary engine housings, flywheel gaskets, and seals
  • Transmission, including the transmission case, internal parts, torque converter, gaskets, and seals (except for four-wheel drive vehicles)
  • Drive axle, including front and rear drive axle housings and internal parts, axle shafts, propeller shafts, and universal joints (except for four-wheel drive vehicles)
  • Brakes, including master cylinder, vacuum assist booster, wheel cylinders, hydraulic lines and fittings, and disc brake calipers
  • Radiator
  • Steering, including the steering gear housing and all internal parts, power steering pump, valve body, piston and rack
  • Alternator, generator, starter, and ignition system (excluding the battery)

If the dealer can't repair a defect in three attempts, or if the vehicle has been out of service for a cumulative total of ten business days, you are entitled to a comparable replacement vehicle or a refund — whichever you choose. The refund consists of the purchase price, less 15 cents per mile for every mile you've driven, plus the return of your trade-in. If the dealer doesn't return your trade-in, he must pay you the wholesale value as listed in the National Automobile Dealers' Association Used Car Guide or a comparable guide.

If the dealer refuses to give you a refund or replacement vehicle, you need to sue the dealer in a court of law. The window of time to initiate a lawsuit is small (one year from the delivery date of the vehicle), so speak to a Lemon Law attorney if your vehicle has been in the shop two times for the same problem. If your case is successful, the dealer will have pay for attorneys' fees, so you shouldn't have to pay for representation.

As with other types of Lemon Law claims, organization is key to presenting a convincing case. Keep spotless records of every malfunction and problem you have had with your vehicle since you bought it. Save all of the paperwork that you received every time you brought your vehicle to be serviced. Catalog the days the vehicle spent in the shop and out of your possession. Remember, the more organized your evidence is, the more likely it is that your attorney can win your case.

If your used vehicle isn't covered by Hawaii's Used Car Lemon Law, there are several other types of laws that can be used to help you in the event you discover that you've bought a used car lemon. First, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has what's called the Used Car Rule that requires dealers to provide consumers with a Buyer's Guide with warranty and other types of information. If the dealer has in any way failed to abide by the FTC Used Car Rule, you may have the basis for a legal claim.

Second, each state has what are called Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices (UDAP) laws. If the dealer has, for example, made verbal promises or didn't tell you about issues relating to your used car, you may have a cause of action. Third, Hawaii's version of the Uniform Commercial Code may provide you with relief. Finally, the Truth in Lending Act and the Federal Odometer Act might also be valuable in obtaining lemon justice.

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