Rhode Island Lemon Laws

Published 01/11/2020

Lemon Laws in Rhode Island- Know Your Rights

The Rhode Island General Assembly has passed laws which force car dealers to provide an adequate warranty of liability for vehicles sold.  You may know of this requirement by a different name “Lemon Law.” If you buy or lease a new car from a dealer, and it turns out to be a “lemon”, you can force the dealer to take it back and give you a refund or another car. Even if you buy a used car from a dealer and it turns out to be a “lemon”, you can force the dealer to take it back and refund your money. It is important to note that you cannot waive the protection of the “lemon law” when buying a new car. In certain scenarios, when buying a used car “AS-IS” the lemon law will not protect you.

New Car Issues – What Are Your Rights?

You must first notify the dealership of your issue. You have a specific period of time, according your various warranties that came with your vehicle, to file a claim with your dealer. For the lemon law protection, you have one year from the date of delivery of the new vehicle or 15,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Lemon laws protect purchased and lease vehicles.

The dealer is allowed a “reasonable amount” of attempts to fix the vehicle’s issues. If they are unable to do so then you are entitled to a refund of the full purchase price (less a reasonable amount for use) or a replacement vehicle. They have 30 days to get you a replacement vehicle and must cover the costs associated with transferring registration at the DMV, sales tax, and any towing fees related to the broken vehicle.

Sometimes, the dealer includes language electing an informal dispute settlement procedure. However, a decision resulting from an informal dispute settlement procedure shall be binding upon the manufacturer if the consumer or lessee elects to accept the decision.  In other words, you do not have to accept this decision and can move forward with your rights.

A lawsuit must be commenced within three (3) years of the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to the consumer or within two (2) years of the date on which the mileage on the motor vehicle reached fifteen thousand (15,000) miles, whichever is earlier.

You Purchased a Used Car and it Broke Down. Can You Get Your Money Back?

The lemon law requires the dealer or his or her agent to repair or, at the election of the dealer, reimburse the consumer for the reasonable cost of repairing the failure of a covered part.  Used cars are protected and require a written warranty which sets out the following minimum terms:

  • If the used motor vehicle has thirty-six thousand (36,000) miles or less, the warranty shall be at a minimum of sixty (60) days or three thousand (3,000) miles, whichever comes first.
  • If the used motor vehicle has more than thirty-six thousand (36,000) miles, but not more than one hundred thousand (100,000) miles, the warranty shall be at a minimum of thirty (30) days or one thousand (1,000) miles, whichever comes first.


The following parts are covered;


  • All lubricated parts, water pump, fuel pump, manifolds, engine block, cylinder head, rotary engine housings, and flywheel.
  • The transmission case, internal parts, and the torque converter.
  • Drive axle. Front and rear drive axle housings and internal parts, axle shafts, propeller shafts, and universal joints.
  • Master cylinder, vacuum assist booster, wheel cylinders, hydraulic lines and fittings, and disc brake calipers.
  • The steering gear housing and all internal parts, and the power steering pump, valve body, piston, and rack.
  • The alternator, generator, starter, and ignition system, excluding the battery.

If the dealer fails to correct a malfunction or defect as required by the warranty (lemon law) which substantially impairs the value of the used motor vehicle to the consumer after a reasonable period of time, the dealer shall accept the return of the used motor vehicle from the consumer and refund to the consumer the full purchase price including sales or compensating use tax, less a reasonable allowance for any damage not attributable to normal wear or usage, and an adjustment for any modifications which either increase or decrease the market value of the vehicle.

The dealer may elect to offer to replace the used motor vehicle with a comparably priced vehicle, with any adjustment in price that the parties may agree to. The consumer shall not be obligated to accept a replacement vehicle, but may instead elect to receive the refund provided under this section.