Buying a Car in Massachusetts

Massachusetts stands as one of the most comprehensive states when it comes to Lemon Laws, as well as other regulations that impact purchasing a vehicle. We’re going to give you the details here, as well as links for more information.

1. Title Information

Massachusetts law requires all vehicles to be titled within 10 days of purchase. If you are purchasing a new vehicle from a dealer, you will need to get them to sign an application for a title, take that to an insurance agent to get your policy approved and stamped, then take the application, insurance policy and Manufacturer Certificate of Origin (MCO) to a Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) office.

If you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle, you will need all of the above, except you will want the previous title instead of an MCO. You will also need an odometer disclosure and a bill of sale (either on the title or separately). You will take all of this information to the RMV office.

2. Insurance Information

Massachusetts requires that a vehicle owner have liability insurance before they can drive their vehicle. The minimum insurance requirements for the state are fairly extensive, including the following:

  • $20,000 liability per person bodily injury ($40,000 per accident)
  • $5,000 liability personal property damage
  • $8,000 personal injury protection per accident
  • $20,000 uninsured motorist injury per person ($40,000 per accident)

It is also worth noting that Massachusetts has no regulated insurance system with rates set by the state. This “Managed Competition” system means that different companies can offer you vastly different rates, although for many owners the rates will be higher.

3. Emission Information

Massachusetts does vehicle inspections on all vehicles every year. It also does emission testing on most vehicles, including diesel vehicles (which many states do not require). If you are purchasing a new vehicle, it will be exempt from the emissions testing (but not the inspection) for two years. If you are purchasing a vehicle whose model year is earlier than 1983, it will also be exempt from the emissions testing. All other vehicles must be tested every two years at one of the 19,000 testing stations within the state.

4. Lemon Law Information

The Massachusetts New and Leased Lemon Law covers new and leased vehicles purchased in Massachusetts for one year or 15,000 miles, whichever comes first. You must start the process for the law before you reach those limits but can continue after them.

In order for the law to be applied to it, a vehicle must either have a problem that has not been able to be repaired after three attempts or have been out of service for repairs for at least 15 business days cumulative.

If either of the aforementioned conditions exist, the vehicle owner then must send the manufacturer a certified letter offering it one final chance to repair the vehicle. The manufacturer has seven days to complete that repair. If the problem persists, the owner can then demand a replacement or a refund.

5. Special Information

In addition to the aforementioned New and Leased Lemon Law, Massachusetts has two other Lemon Laws, which cover different aspects of vehicle purchasing, and this makes it different from other states.

One of these is the Lemon Law Used; this covers purchases of used vehicles sold by dealers or private parties in Massachusetts. The law is actually fairly complicated, but in essence it requires dealers to repair issues before they sell a vehicle and to give you a warranty based on the mileage or age of the vehicle. If during that warranty the vehicle has a problem that cannot be repaired after three attempts, or the vehicle is in the shop for 11 business days, you can demand a replacement or refund of the vehicle.

Finally, there is the Lemon Aid Law, which allows a new owner to void a purchase of a vehicle if it fails to pass an inspection within seven days of the purchase date and the cost to repair it would exceed 10 percent of the purchase price. In other words, this law is designed specifically to help you if someone attempts to sell you a car that is not what they claim it to be.