Illinois Lemon Law State Ranking

November 7, 2002

Honorable Jim Ryan
Attorney General of Illinois
100 W. Randolph St., 12th Fl.
Chicago, IL 60601

Dear Attorney General Ryan:

The Center for Auto Safety has just completed a study of the lemon law in every state and the District of Columbia and has ranked each state based on the results. Illinois has one of the weakest lemon laws in the country and finished 49th out of 51. With over 100,000 lemons bought back each year, a strong lemon law is vital to consumer protection. States with strong lemon laws force the auto companies to take back their lemons. States with weak lemon laws force consumers to eat their lemons.

The ranking was based on 10 different categories corresponding to fundamental elements of a strong lemon law, with each category worth a maximum of 10 points for a total of 100 points. The categories are:
1. number of repair attempts or days out of service before an automobile was considered a lemon,
2. whether law had a safety lemon provision and how protective it was,
3. the length of the presumption period or coverage of the lemon law,
4. whether law had a garden variety lemon provision to cover multiple different problems,
5. the offset for use of the car when determining a refund price,
6. if the consumer is eligible for a civil penalty or double or treble damages,
7. types of vehicles covered,
8. is there a state run arbitration program,
9. is the consumer compensated for their attorney fees, and
10. whether refund reimburses consumer for all costs of purchasing and owning lemon
Points were deducted for provisions that negated major rights under the lemon law including whether consumer (1) was liable for manufacturer's attorney fees, (2) lost rights under other laws, (3) had to file lemon lawsuit within short time, and (4) had to resort to manufacturer's unfair arbitration program before filing lemon lawsuit.

Illinois' lemon law is so bad no consumer will use it. It (1) lacks a safety lemon provision requiring auto companies to buy back or replace safety lemons after one unsuccessful repair attempt for a defect that threatens death or serious bodily injury, (2) lacks a garden variety lemon provision covering repairs for multiple different problems, (3) does not provide for attorney fees to a consumer who has to sue a manufacturer, (4) forces consumers to resort to mandatory arbitration through biased auto company arbitration before they can exert their legal lemon rights, (5) causes consumers to lose rights under other laws, (6) does not provide a civil penalty for auto manufacturers who willfully violate the lemon law, and (7) limits the refund to purchase price and governmental fees and fails to include other lemon costs such as taxes, interest, incidental and consequential damages, alternate transportation and finance charges. Examples of stronger provisions from other states are contained in the attached “Best State Lemon Law Provisions.”

We urge you to review this survey and use your authority to help improve Illinois' lemon law. Unless Illinois amends its lemon law, Illinois residents who lease vehicles will have no lemon rights whatsoever since the Federal lemon law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, has just been held not to apply to leased vehicles in Illinois in Diamond v. Porsche, No. 02 C 414, 2002 WL 31155064 (ND Ill Sept 26, 2002).


Clarence M. Ditlow
Executive Director

Ian Hill
Research Assistant


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