Rhode Island Lemon Law
Chapter 31-5.2, Motor And Other Vehicles, Consumer Enforcement
of Motor Vehicle Warranties
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-1 Definitions.
The following words and phrases which are used in this chapter
shall, for the purposes of this chapter, have the following
(1)"Consumer" means a buyer, other than for purposes of resale,
of a motor vehicle, any person to whom that motor vehicle is
transferred for the same purposes during the duration of any
express or implied warranty applicable to that motor vehicle, and
any other person entitled by the terms of that warranty to enforce
(2)"Dealer" means any person engaged in the business of selling,
offering to sell, soliciting, or advertising the sale of new motor
(3)"Lease price" means the aggregate of:
(i)Lessor's actual purchase costs.
(ii)Collateral charges, if applicable.
(iii)Any fee paid to another to obtain the lease.
(iv)Any insurance or other costs expended by the lessor for the
benefit of the lessee.
(v)An amount equal to state and local sales taxes not otherwise
included as collateral charges, paid by the lessor when the vehicle
was initially purchased.
(vi)An amount equal to five percent (5%) of the lessor's actual
(4)"Lessee" means any consumer who leases a motor vehicle for
one year or more pursuant to a written lease agreement which
provides that the lessee is responsible for repairs to such motor
vehicle or any consumer who leases a motor vehicle pursuant to a
(5)"Lessee cost" means the aggregate deposit and rental payments
previously paid to the lessor for the leased vehicle.
(6)"Lessor" means a person who holds title to a motor vehicle
leased to a lessee under a written lease agreement or who holds the
lessor's rights under such agreement.
(7)"Manufacturer" means any person, partnership, firm,
association, corporation, or trust, resident or nonresident, which
is engaged in the business of manufacturing or assembling new motor
vehicles, or which is engaged in the business of importing new
motor vehicles which are manufactured or assembled outside of the
(8)"Motor vehicle" or "vehicle" means an automobile, truck,
motorcycle, or van having a registered gross vehicle weight of less
than ten thousand pounds (10,000 lbs.), sold, leased, or replaced
by a dealer or manufacturer after May 11, 1984, except that it
shall not include a motorized camper as defined in 31-1-3(q).
(9)"Nonconformity" means any specific or generic defect or
malfunction, or any concurrent combination of such defects or
malfunctions, that substantially impairs the use, market value, or
safety of a motor vehicle.
(10)"Term of protection" means one year or fifteen thousand
(15,000) miles of use from the date of original delivery of a new
motor vehicle to the consumer, whichever comes first; or, in the
case of a replacement vehicle provided by a manufacturer to a
consumer under this chapter, one year or fifteen thousand (15,000)
miles from the date of delivery to the consumer of that replacement
vehicle, whichever comes first.
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-2 Manufacturers' obligation to
If a motor vehicle does not conform to any applicable express or
implied warranties, including, but not limited to, the implied
warranty of merchantability as defined in 6A-2-314 and the implied
warranty of fitness for a particular purpose as defined in
6A-2-315, and the consumer or lessee reports the nonconformity to
the manufacturer of the vehicle, its agent, or its authorized
dealer or lessor during the term of protection, the manufacturer,
its agent or its authorized dealer shall effect such repairs as are
necessary to conform the vehicle to the warranty, notwithstanding
the fact that those repairs are made after the expiration of the
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-3 Replacement of nonconforming
(a)If the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer or
lessor does not conform the motor vehicle to any applicable express
or implied warranty by curing any nonconformity after a reasonable
number of attempts, the manufacturer shall accept return of the
vehicle from the consumer or lessee and, at the consumer's or
lessee's option, refund the full contract price or lease price of
the vehicle including all credits and allowances for any trade-in
vehicle, less a reasonable allowance for use, or replace it with a
comparable new motor vehicle in good working order. A manufacturer
replacing a motor vehicle shall have thirty (30) calendar days from
the date of return of the motor vehicle under the provisions of
this chapter to deliver a comparable motor vehicle. If, within that
thirty (30) days, no comparable motor vehicle has been delivered,
the manufacturer shall refund the full contract price or lease
price less a reasonable allowance for use. In instances in which a
vehicle is replaced by a manufacturer under the provisions of this
chapter, the manufacturer shall reimburse the consumer or lessee
for any fees for the transfer of registration or any sales tax
incurred by the consumer or lessee as a result of that replacement.
In instances in which a vehicle which was financed by the
manufacturer or its subsidiary or agent is replaced under the
provisions of this chapter, the manufacturer, subsidiary, or agent
shall not require the consumer or lessee to enter into any
refinancing agreement with an interest rate or other financial
terms which are less favorable to the consumer or lessee than those
stated in the original financing agreement. In instances in which a
refund is tendered under the provisions of this chapter, the
manufacturer shall also reimburse the consumer or lessee for
incidental costs including sales tax, registration fee, finance
charges, and any cost of non-removable options added by an
authorized dealer or lessor. Whenever a vehicle is replaced or
refunded under the provisions of this chapter, in instances in
which towing services and rental vehicles of comparable year and
size were not made available at no cost to the consumer or lessee,
the manufacturer shall also reimburse the consumer or lessee for
towing and reasonable rental costs that were a direct result of
vehicle nonconformity. Refunds shall be made to the consumer or
lessee and to the lien holder, if any, as their interests may
appear. A reasonable allowance for use shall be obtained by
multiplying the total contract price or lessee cost of the vehicle
by a fraction having as its denominator one hundred thousand
(100,000) and having as its numerator the number of miles that the
vehicle traveled prior to the consumer's first report of the
nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agent, or its dealer or
lessor plus the number of miles that it traveled during any
subsequent period when the vehicle was not out of service by reason
of repair. A consumer or lessee shall have the option of retaining
the use of any vehicle returned under the provisions of this
chapter until such time as the consumer or lessee has been tendered
a full refund or replacement vehicle acceptable to the consumer or
lessee. The use of any vehicle retained by a consumer or lessee
after its return to a manufacturer under the provisions of this
chapter shall, in instances in which a refund is tendered, be
reflected in the above mentioned reasonable allowance for use.
(b)If applicable, refunds shall be made to the lessor and lessee
as their interests may appear on the records of ownership as
follows: the lessee shall receive the lessee cost and the lessor
shall receive the lease price less the aggregate deposit and rental
payments previously paid to the lessor for the leased vehicle. If
it is determined that the lessee is entitled to a refund pursuant
to this chapter, the consumer's lease agreement with the lessor
shall be terminated upon payment of the refund and no penalty for
early termination shall be assessed.
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-4 Affirmative defenses.
It shall be an affirmative defense to any claim under this
(1)that an alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair
the use, market value, or safety of the vehicle, or
(2)that a nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect, or
unauthorized substantial modification or alteration of the vehicle
by the consumer or lessee.
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-5 Time allowed for correction of
(a)A reasonable number of attempts shall be presumed to have
been undertaken to conform a motor vehicle to any applicable
express or implied warranties if:
(1)the same nonconformity has been subject to repair four (4) or
more times by the manufacturer or its agents or authorized dealers
or lessors within the term of protection, but the nonconformity
continues to exist or the nonconformity has recurred within the
term of protection, or
(2)the vehicle is out of service by reason of the repair of any
nonconformity for a cumulative total of thirty (30) or more
calendar days during the term of protection; provided, however,
that the manufacturer shall be afforded one additional opportunity,
not to exceed seven (7) calendar days, to cure any nonconformity
arising during the term of protection, notwithstanding the fact
that the additional opportunity to cure commences after the term of
(b)The additional opportunity to cure shall commence on the day
the manufacturer first knows or should have known that the limits
specified in subsection (a)(1) or (a)(2) have been met or exceeded.
The term of protection, the thirty (30) calendar day period
specified in subsection (a)(2) and the additional opportunity to
cure shall be extended by any period of time during which repair
services are not available to the consumer or lessee as a direct
result of a war, invasion, fire, flood or other natural disaster.
The term of protection, the thirty (30) calendar day period and the
additional opportunity to cure shall also be extended by that
period of time during which repair services are not available as a
direct result of a strike; provided, however, that the
manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer or lessor makes
provision for the free use of a vehicle of comparable year and size
by any consumer or lessee whose vehicle is out of service by reason
of repair during a strike. The burden shall be on the manufacturer
to show that any event claimed as a reason for an extension under
the provisions of this section was the direct cause for the failure
of the manufacturer, its agent or lessor, or its authorized dealer
to cure any nonconformity during the time of that event. Extensions
for concurrent events shall not be cumulative.
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-6 Rights and remedies
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit the rights
or remedies which are otherwise available to a consumer or lessee
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-7 Informal dispute settlement
If a manufacturer has established an informal dispute settlement
procedure which complies in all respects with the provisions of
title 16, Code of Federal Regulations, part 703, as from time to
time amended, or which has been approved by the federal trade
commission or by the attorney general of this state, the provisions
of 31-5.2-3 concerning refunds or replacement shall not apply to
any consumer or lessee who has not first resorted to the procedure
or the procedure set forth in 31-5.2-7.1. This section shall not
apply unless the manufacturer, its agents, or its authorized dealer
or lessor shall have provided the consumer or lessee with clear and
conspicuous written notice of the procedure at the time of delivery
of the motor vehicle. A decision resulting from such an informal
dispute settlement procedure shall be binding upon the manufacturer
if the consumer or lessee elects to accept the decision. The
manufacturer shall perform its obligations as set forth in said
decision within a reasonable period of time not to exceed thirty
(30) calendar days from the rendering of the decision. In no event
shall a consumer or lessee who has resorted to an informal dispute
settlement procedure be precluded from seeking the rights and/or
remedies provided by this chapter. Any applicable statute of
limitation including but not limited to that set forth in 31-5.2-12
shall be tolled during the period from the initiation of a dispute
settlement procedure until thirty (30) days following the rendering
of a final decision in said process.
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-8 Waiver of rights
Any agreement entered into by a consumer or lessee for the
purchase or lease of a new motor vehicle which waives, limits, or
disclaims the rights set forth in this chapter shall be void as
contrary to public policy. These rights shall inure to a subsequent
transferee of the motor vehicle.
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-9 Disclosure of nonconformity
prior to resale.
No motor vehicle that is returned to the manufacturer under the
provisions of this chapter shall be resold or re-leased in the
state without clear and conspicuous written disclosure to the
prospective purchaser or lessee prior to resale of the fact that it
was so returned due to a nonconformity. The attorney general shall
prescribe the exact form and content of the disclosure
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-10 Cause of action.
An aggrieved consumer or lessee may bring an action under the
Rules of Civil Procedure in the superior court to enforce the
provisions of this chapter.
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-11 Attorney's fees.
The court hearing a complaint brought by a consumer or lessee
aggrieved by a violation of this chapter shall award reasonable
attorney's fees to a prevailing plaintiff.
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-12 Commencement of action.
Any action brought pursuant to this chapter shall be commenced
within three (3) years of the date of original delivery of the
motor vehicle to the consumer or lessee 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.
Rhode Island Lemon Law 31-5.2-13 Deceptive trade practice.
A manufacturer's failure to comply with any of the provisions of
this chapter shall constitute a deceptive trade practice under the
terms of chapter 13.1 of title 6. All of the public and private
remedies provided for in chapter 13.1 of title 6 shall be available
to enforce the provisions of this chapter.