The Nevada lemon law covers the purchase of new and used motor vehicles. It does not cover motor homes, such as recreational vehicles (RVs) or off-road vehicles like all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). The lemon law gives the purchaser the right to return the car if the vehicle has significant problems that the manufacturer, their agent or their authorized dealership cannot fix.
The law applies for one year after the date of purchase or until the vehicle’s express warranty ends. An express warranty is a promise to the buyer that the vehicle has certain qualities promised in the warranty. Nevada does not have a cooling off period for a buyer to rescind a purchase contract for a motor vehicle.
What Vehicles Are Covered
Nevada’s lemon law covers a motor vehicle used for personal, family or household purposes. It also applies to an owner to whom a vehicle is transferred during the car’s warranty period or any other person who could enforce the warranty. The lemon law does not cover a lessor of a vehicle. A manufacturer, their agent or authorized dealership is able to take a car back after the buyer signed the contract in Nevada.
Opportunity to Repair Defect
The owner of a vehicle should determine the defect or condition that substantially impairs the use and value of the motor vehicle. The lemon law does not cover concerns that result because the owner abused, neglected or made unauthorized modifications to the motor vehicle. The owner should then report the defect, or nonconformity, in writing to the manufacturer.
The owner must report the nonconformity before the express warranty expires or within one year of the date of the vehicle’s delivery to the original buyer, whichever is earlier. The manufacturer, their agent or their authorized dealership is required to make the repairs to get the vehicle to conform to the express warranty.
The party must make the repairs even if the warranty has expired. If they cannot get the motor vehicle to conform to the warranty by repairing it after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer must replace or repurchase the motor vehicle. A car that cannot be made to conform to the warranty qualifies as a "lemon."
Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts
There have been a "reasonable number of attempts" to conform the vehicle to the express warranty if (when the warranty is in effect or within one year of delivery to the original buyer):
- The same concern has been repaired four or more times by the manufacturer, their agent or authorized dealership but the concern still exists.
- The motor vehicle is out of service for repairs for over 30 calendar days. The 30-day period is extended by any reasons that are beyond the control of the manufacturer, their agent or their authorized dealership.
The answer to the question, “How long can a dealership hold a nonconforming car for repair in Nevada?” is not straightforward because state law does not set a hard limit on the time period.
If the time period is extended on numerous occasions, and the delay begins to seem unreasonable, the buyer could show the facts and circumstances regarding the extensions in court and make the argument that the dealership was not acting in good faith in holding the vehicle.
Dispute Resolution and Remedies
If the manufacturer has established an informal dispute settlement procedure that complies with the Code of Federal Regulations, the buyer is not allowed to bring an action under the language that requires a refund or replacement vehicle unless the buyer first resorted to that procedure.
An owner who wants to file a civil lawsuit against a manufacturer, their agent or authorized dealership must file the action within 18 months after the vehicle’s original delivery to the buyer. A manufacturer who repurchases a vehicle under the lemon law is required to pay these amounts:
- Full purchase price of the vehicle.
- Sales tax, license fee, registration fee and other government charges related to the purchase of the vehicle.
- Subtraction for the buyer’s use of the vehicle.
The manufacturer should provide refunds to the buyer and to lien holders, if any exist. The reasonable allowance for use is the amount attributable to use before the first time the buyer reported the nonconformity to the manufacturer, agent or dealership and during any later periods when the vehicle is not being repaired.
Replacement Vehicle Must Be Comparable
A replacement vehicle must be a comparable motor vehicle of the same model, with the same features as the defective vehicle. If the manufacturer, their agent or authorized dealership cannot get such a vehicle to the buyer within a reasonable amount of time, that party must provide a motor vehicle that is substantially similar to the replaced vehicle.
An agreement between the manufacturer, their agent or authorized dealership and the buyer that requires the buyer to waive rights or remedies provided by state statutes is void.
Seeking Legal Advice
A buyer or subsequent purchaser of a lemon car can reach out to a lemon law attorney to file a civil lawsuit to recover damages relating to the purchase of a nonconforming vehicle. The buyer may be able to make additional claims other than violation of the Nevada lemon law in the lawsuit.
For example, if the manufacturer, their agent or authorized dealership engaged in fraud, the buyer can state this in the lemon law claim.
The Nevada state lemon law does not have a clause that allows a buyer or subsequent owner to receive attorney’s fees, in arbitration or through other means. Typically, the return requires that the buyer physically bring back the vehicle in whatever condition it is in to the manufacturer, their agent or authorized dealership.
Used Vehicles Sold “As Is” Under Nevada Law
Although a used car is covered under the lemon law, used vehicles are sold without the manufacturer, their agent or the authorized dealership being required to make repairs.
The exception to this rule is if a used vehicle does not conform to the car manufacturer’s express warranty, the manufacturer, their agent or the authorized dealership is required to make repairs to get the used vehicle to conform to the express warranty.
They must do this before delivering the vehicle to the buyer. The manufacturer, their agent or authorized dealership should not be delivering a used vehicle that is in disrepair or does not have the features required by the express warranty or the sales contract.
Taking Care With Car Sales Contracts
A buyer should be careful to read and understand the sales or lease contract before buying a vehicle. A buyer should not sign a contract that contains blank spaces. A Nevada dealer is required to use a standardized contract that is available online from the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, Division of Financial Institutions.
A dealer is required to issue certain documents to the buyer:
- Copies of any contract, lease agreement or warranty.
- Temporary movement placard that is dated to expire 30 days from the date of the sale.
- Certificate of passing emission inspection, if required. A test is valid for 180 days.
- Drivetrain inspection report on used vehicles with an odometer reading of 75,000 miles or more.
- Electronic dealer report of sale (EDRS).
If Financing Cannot Be Finalized
A dealer may or may not issue the EDRS at the time of the sale. If the financing on the vehicle has not been finalized, the dealer can take up to 20 days to arrange financing under the terms of the sale. If financing cannot be finalized, the dealer has three choices:
- Rescind the sale and require the return of the vehicle.
- Finance the vehicle in-house under the original terms.
- Ask the buyer to sign a new contract with different terms.
The buyer is not required to accept a new contract. They may return the vehicle.
Recalls as to Safety Defects
The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act gives the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) the authority to issue vehicle safety standards. This act also requires manufacturers to recall vehicles that do not meet federal safety standards or have safety-related defects.
If a safety defect is discovered, the vehicle manufacturer must notify NHTSA, vehicle and equipment owners, dealers and distributors.
The manufacturer is required to remedy the problem at no charge to the owner. This typically means paying for the recall and replacement of a defective part. The federal act requires that the manufacturer do this outside of the year-long provision of the Nevada lemon law and the term of the express warranty.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
The Magnuson-Moss Act is a federal law that requires a warrantor of consumer products, including automobiles, to provide consumers with detailed information about warranty coverage. The Act gives consumers a way to learn what warranty coverage is offered on a vehicle before they buy it. Consumers can also use the warranty information to compare coverage before buying.
The Magnuson-Moss Act interacts with the Nevada lemon law in that it helps buyers understand express warranties before purchase.
The Magnuson-Moss Act does not require a business to provide a written warranty, and the Act covers only written warranties and does not apply to oral warranties. The Act does not apply to warranties on services, only to warranties on goods. When a warranty covers both parts and labor involved in the repair, the Act will apply.
Not Applicable to Products Sold for Resale
The Magnuson-Moss Act does not apply to products sold for resale or for commercial purposes. The Act only covers warranties on consumer products, tangible property normally used for personal, family or household purposes. The Act requires that the warrantor:
- Title a written warranty as “full” or “limited.” A full warranty requires the entity to replace or repair the vehicle during the warranty period. A limited warranty may restrict the warranty to specific parts or repairs during the warranty period
- State certain specified information about the coverage of the warranty in a single, clear and easy-to-read document.
- Ensure copies of the warranties are available where the warranted consumer products are sold so buyers can read them before purchase.
Effect of Implied Warranties
The Act prohibits a warrantor who offers a written warranty from disclaiming or modifying implied warranties. The single permissible modification of implied warranties is that if a warrantor offers a “limited” written warranty, the law allows them to include a provision restricting the duration of the implied warranty to the duration of the limited warranty.
An implied warranty is an assurance that the item sold, like a car, is adequate for the purpose for which it is purchased or leased. For example, if a warrantor offers a five-year limited warranty, they can limit implied warranties to five years. If they offer a full written warranty, they cannot limit the duration of implied warranties.
Tie-in Provisions Generally Not Allowed
Generally, the Act does not allow tie-in sales provisions. A tie-in is a provision that states or implies that a buyer must use an item or service from a particular company to retain warranty coverage. For example, a manufacturer cannot imply that a buyer must get regular oil changes at its repair service partner’s chain of garages in order to get parts replaced through a five-year warranty.
Federal Trade Commission Waivers
A warrantor can require a buyer to use select items or services if they are provided free of charge under the warranty or the warrantor receives a waiver from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
To get a waiver, the manufacturer must prove to the FTC’s satisfaction that the product will not work properly without a specified item or service. It is also permissible to disclaim warranty coverage for defects or damage caused by the use of parts or service that the warrantor did not provide.
For example, if a non-authorized third party performs work on the vehicle, to a component like the stereo system, this may void the manufacturer’s warranty.
- Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles: Registration - Nevada Dealer Sales
- Nevada Revised Statutes: Chapter 597, Section 682, Lemon Law Buyback
- Code of Federal Regulations: Part 703, Informal Dispute Settlement Procedures
- Nevada Department of Business and Industry, Financial Institutions: NAC 97
- U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration: Recalls
- U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Motor Vehicle Safety Defects And Recalls
- Federal Trade Commission: Businessperson's Guide to Federal Warranty Law
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.