Lemon Law America® offers owners of defective motor vehicles resources to help them research their state's lemon law statutes, and provides links to lemon lawyers practicing in their state.
Connecticut Lemon Law Statutes
Connecticut Lemon law Title 42, Chapter 743b
CHAPTER 743b* NEW AUTOMOBILE WARRANTIES
Connecticut Lemon law Sec. 42-179.
New motor vehicle warranties.
As used in this chapter:
- "Consumer" means the purchaser, other than for purposes of resale, of a motor vehicle, a lessee of a motor vehicle, any person to whom such motor vehicle is transferred during the duration of an express warranty applicable to such motor vehicle, and any person entitled by the terms of such warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty; and
- "motor vehicle" means a passenger motor vehicle or a passenger and commercial motor vehicle, as defined in section 14-1, which is sold or leased in this state.
- If a new motor vehicle does not conform to all applicable express warranties, and the consumer reports the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer during the period of two years following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to a consumer or during the period of the first eighteen thousand miles of operation, whichever period ends first, the manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer shall make such repairs as are necessary to conform the vehicle to such express warranties, notwithstanding the fact that such repairs are made after the expiration of the applicable period.
- No consumer shall be required to notify the manufacturer of a claim under this section and sections 42-181 to 42-184, inclusive, unless the manufacturer has clearly and conspicuously disclosed to the consumer, in the warranty or owner's manual, that written notification of the nonconformity is required before the consumer may be eligible for a refund or replacement of the vehicle. The manufacturer shall include with the warranty or owner's manual the name and address to which the consumer shall send such written notification.
If the manufacturer, or its agents or authorized dealers are unable to conform the motor vehicle to any applicable express warranty by repairing or correcting any defect or condition which substantially impairs the use, safety or value of the motor vehicle to the consumer after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer shall replace the motor vehicle with a new motor vehicle acceptable to the consumer, or accept return of the vehicle from the consumer and refund to the consumer, lessor and lienholder, if any, as their interests may appear, the following:
- The full contract price, including but not limited to, charges for undercoating, dealer preparation and transportation and installed options,
- all collateral charges, including but not limited to, sales tax, license and registration fees, and similar government charges,
- all finance charges incurred by the consumer after he first reports the nonconformity to the manufacturer, agent or dealer and during any subsequent period when the vehicle is out of service by reason of repair, and
all incidental damages as defined in section 42a-2-715, less a reasonable allowance for the consumer's use of the vehicle. No authorized dealer shall be held liable by the manufacturer for any refunds or vehicle replacements in the absence of evidence indicating that dealership repairs have been carried out in a manner inconsistent with the manufacturers' instructions. Refunds or replacements shall be made to the consumer, lessor and lienholder if any, as their interests may appear. A reasonable allowance for use shall be that amount obtained by multiplying the total contract price of the vehicle by a fraction having as its denominator one hundred thousand and having as its numerator the number of miles that the vehicle traveled prior to the manufacturer's acceptance of its return. It shall be an affirmative defense to any claim under this section
- that an alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair such use, safety or value or
- that a nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or alterations of a motor vehicle by a consumer.
It shall be presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform a motor vehicle to the applicable express warranties, if
- the same nonconformity has been subject to repair four or more times by the manufacturer or its agents or authorized dealers during the period of two years following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to a consumer or during the period of the first eighteen thousand miles of operation, whichever period ends first, but such nonconformity continues to exist or
- the vehicle is out of service by reason of repair for a cumulative total of thirty or more calendar days during the applicable period, determined pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection. Such two-year period and such thirty-day period shall be extended by any period of time during which repair services are not available to the consumer because of a war, invasion, strike or fire, flood or other natural disaster. No claim shall be made under this section unless at least one attempt to repair a nonconformity has been made by the manufacturer or its agent or an authorized dealer or unless such manufacturer, its agent or an authorized dealer has refused to attempt to repair such nonconformity.
- If a motor vehicle has a nonconformity which results in a condition which is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven, it shall be presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform such vehicle to the applicable express warranties if the nonconformity has been subject to repair at least twice by the manufacturer or its agents or authorized dealers within the express warranty term or during the period of one year following the date of the original delivery of the motor vehicle to a consumer, whichever period ends first, but such nonconformity continues to exist. The term of an express warranty and such one-year period shall be extended by any period of time during which repair services are not available to the consumer because of war, invasion, strike or fire, flood or other natural disaster.
- No motor vehicle which is returned to any person pursuant to any provision of this chapter or in settlement of any dispute related to any complaint made under the provisions of this chapter and which requires replacement or refund shall be resold, transferred or leased in the state without clear and conspicuous written disclosure of the fact that such motor vehicle was so returned prior to resale or lease. Such disclosure shall be affixed to the motor vehicle and shall be included in any contract for sale or lease. The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles shall, by regulations adopted in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, prescribe the form and content of any such disclosure statement and establish provisions by which the commissioner may remove such written disclosure after such time as the commissioner may determine that such motor vehicle is no longer defective.
- If a manufacturer accepts the return of a motor vehicle or compensates any person who accepts the return of a motor vehicle pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection such manufacturer shall stamp the words "MANUFACTURER BUYBACK" clearly and conspicuously on the face of the original title in letters at least one-quarter inch high and, within ten days of receipt of the title, shall submit a copy of the stamped title to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Department of Motor Vehicles shall maintain a listing of such buyback vehicles and in the case of any request for a title for a buyback vehicle, shall cause the words "MANUFACTURER BUYBACK" to appear clearly and conspicuously on the face of the new title in letters which are at least one-quarter inch high. Any person who applies for a title shall disclose to the department the fact that such vehicle was returned as set forth in this subsection.
- If a manufacturer accepts the return of a motor vehicle from a consumer due to a nonconformity or defect, in exchange for a refund or a replacement vehicle, whether as a result of an administrative or judicial determination, an arbitration proceeding or a voluntary settlement, the manufacturer shall notify the Department of Motor Vehicles and shall provide the department with all relevant information, including the year, make, model, vehicle identification number and prior title number of the vehicle. The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles shall adopt regulations in accordance with chapter 54 specifying the format and time period in which such information shall be provided and the nature of any additional information which the commissioner may require.
- The provisions of this subsection shall apply to motor vehicles originally returned in another state from a consumer due to a nonconformity or defect in exchange for a refund or replacement vehicle and which a lessor or transferor with actual knowledge subsequently sells, transfers or leases in this state.
- All express and implied warranties arising from the sale of a new motor vehicle shall be subject to the provisions of part 3 of article 2 of title 42a.
- Nothing in this section shall in any way limit the rights or remedies which are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.
- If a manufacturer has established an informal dispute settlement procedure which is certified by the Attorney General as complying in all respects with the provisions of Title 16 Code of Federal Regulations Part 703, as in effect on October 1, 1982, and with the provisions of subsection (b) of section 42-182, the provisions of subsection (d) of this section concerning refunds or replacement shall not apply to any consumer who has not first resorted to such procedure.
Sec. 42-179a. Copies of paperwork or invoices.
Sec. 42-179b. Dealers and lessors to deliver information.
Sec. 42-180. Costs and attorney's fees in breach of warranty actions.
Sec. 42-181. Department arbitration procedure.
- The Department of Consumer Protection, shall provide an independent arbitration procedure for the settlement of disputes between consumers and manufacturers of motor vehicles which do not conform to all applicable warranties under the terms of section 42-179. The commissioner shall establish one or more automobile dispute settlement panels which shall consist of three members appointed by the Commissioner of Consumer Protection, only one of whom may be directly involved in the manufacture, distribution, sale or service of any product. Members shall be persons interested in consumer disputes and shall serve without compensation for terms of two years at the discretion of the commissioner. In lieu of referring an arbitration dispute to a panel established under the provisions of this section, the Department of Consumer Protection may refer an arbitration dispute to the American Arbitration Association in accordance with regulations adopted in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54.
- If any motor vehicle purchased at any time on or after October 1, 1984, or leased at any time on or after June 17, 1987, fails to conform to such applicable warranties as defined in said section 42-179, a consumer may bring a grievance to an arbitration panel if the manufacturer of the vehicle has not established an informal dispute settlement procedure which the Attorney General has certified as complying in all respects with the requirements of said section 42-179. The consumer may initiate a request for arbitration by calling a toll-free telephone number designated by the commissioner or by requesting an arbitration hearing in writing. The consumer shall file, on forms prescribed by the commissioner, any information deemed relevant to the resolution of the dispute and shall return the form accompanied by a filing fee of fifty dollars. Such complaint form shall offer the consumer a choice of presenting any subsequent testimony orally or in writing. Prior to submitting the complaint to an arbitration panel, the Department of Consumer Protection shall conduct an initial review of the complaint. The department shall determine whether the complaint should be accepted or rejected for arbitration based on whether it alleges that the manufacturer has failed to comply with section 42-179. The filing fee shall be refunded if the department determines that a complaint does not allege a violation of any applicable warranty under the requirements of said section 42-179. Upon acceptance of the complaint, the commissioner shall notify the manufacturer of the filing of a request for arbitration and shall obtain from the manufacturer, in writing on a form prescribed by the commissioner, any information deemed relevant to the resolution of the dispute. The manufacturer shall return the form within fifteen days of receipt, together with a filing fee of two hundred fifty dollars. A lessee who brings a grievance to an arbitration panel under this section shall, upon filing the complaint form provided for in this section, provide the lessor with notice by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, and the lessor may petition the arbitration panel to be made a party to the arbitration proceedings. Initial determinations to reject a complaint for arbitration shall be submitted to an arbitration panel for a final decision upon receipt of a written request from the consumer for a review of the initial eligibility determination and a filing fee of fifty dollars. If a complaint is accepted for arbitration, an arbitration panel may determine that a complaint does not allege that the manufacturer has failed to comply with section 42-179 at any time before such panel renders its decision on the merits of the dispute. The fee accompanying the consumer's complaint form shall be refunded to the consumer and the fee accompanying the form filed by the manufacturer shall be refunded to the manufacturer if the arbitration panel determines that a complaint does not allege a violation of the provisions of section 42-179.
The Department of Consumer Protection shall investigate, gather and organize all information necessary for a fair and timely decision in each dispute. The commissioner may issue subpoenas on behalf of any arbitration panel to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents, papers and records relevant to the dispute. The department shall forward a copy of all written testimony, including all documentary evidence, to an independent technical expert certified by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence or having a degree or other credentials from a nationally recognized organization or institution attesting to automotive expertise, who shall review such material and be available to advise and consult with the arbitration panel. An expert shall sit as a nonvoting member of an arbitration panel whenever oral testimony is presented. Such experts may be recommended by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles at the request of the Commissioner of Consumer Protection. An arbitration panel shall, as expeditiously as possible, but not later than sixty days after the time the consumer files the complaint form together with the filing fee, render a fair decision based on the information gathered and disclose its findings and the reasons therefor to the parties involved. The failure of the arbitrators to render a decision within sixty days shall not void any subsequent decision or otherwise limit the powers of the arbitrators. The arbitration panel shall base its determination of liability solely on whether the manufacturer has failed to comply with section 42-179. The arbitration decision shall be final and binding as to the rights of the parties pursuant to section 42-179, subject only to judicial review as set forth in this subsection. The decision shall provide appropriate remedies, including, but not limited to one or more of the following
- Replacement of the vehicle with an identical or comparable new vehicle acceptable to the consumer;
- Refund of the full contract price, plus collateral charges as specified in subsection (d) of said section 42-179;
- Reimbursement for expenses and compensation for incidental damages as specified in subsection (d) of said section 42-179;
- Any other remedies available under the applicable warranties, section 42-179, this section and sections 42-182 to 42-184, inclusive, or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty-Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act, 88 Stat. 2183 (1975), 15 USC 2301 et seq., as in effect on October 1, 1982, other than repair of the vehicle. The decision shall specify a date for performance and completion of all awarded remedies. Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes or any regulation to the contrary, the Department of Consumer Protection shall not amend, reverse, rescind or revoke any decision or action of an arbitration panel. The department shall contact the consumer, within ten working days after the date for performance, to determine whether performance has occurred. The manufacturer shall act in good faith in abiding by any arbitration decision. In addition, either party to the arbitration may make application to the superior court for the judicial district in which one of the parties resides or, when the court is not in session, any judge thereof for an order confirming, vacating, modifying or correcting any award, in accordance with the provisions of this section and sections 52-417, 52-418, 52-419 and 52-420. Upon filing such application the moving party shall mail a copy of the application to the Attorney General and, upon entry of any judgment or decree, shall mail a copy of such judgment or decree to the Attorney General. A review of such application shall be confined to the record of the proceedings before the arbitration panel. The court shall conduct a de novo review of the questions of law raised in the application. In addition to the grounds set forth in sections 52-418 and 52-419, the court shall consider questions of fact raised in the application. In reviewing questions of fact, the court shall uphold the award unless it determines that the factual findings of the arbitrators are not supported by substantial evidence in the record and that the substantial rights of the moving party have been prejudiced. If the arbitrators fail to state findings or reasons for the award, or the stated findings or reasons are inadequate, the court shall search the record to determine whether a basis exists to uphold the award. If it is determined by the court that the manufacturer has acted without good cause in bringing an appeal of an award, the court, in its discretion, may grant to the consumer his costs and reasonable attorney's fees. If the manufacturer fails to perform all awarded remedies by the date for performance specified by the arbitrators, and the enforcement of the award has not been stayed pursuant to subsection (c) of section 52-420, then each additional day the manufacturer wilfully fails to comply shall be deemed a separate violation for purposes of section 42-184.
- The department shall maintain such records of each dispute as the commissioner may require, including an index of disputes by brand name and model. The department shall annually compile and maintain statistics indicating the record of manufacturer compliance with arbitration decisions and the number of refunds or replacements awarded. A copy of the statistical summary shall be filed with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and shall be considered by him in determining the issuance of any manufacturer license as required under section 14-67a. The summary shall be a public record.
- If a manufacturer has not established an informal dispute settlement procedure certified by the Attorney General as complying with the requirements of said section 42-179, public notice of the availability of the department's automobile dispute settlement procedure shall be prominently posted in the place of business of each new car dealer licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles to engage in the sale of such manufacturer's new motor vehicles. Display of such public notice shall be a condition of licensure under sections 14-52 and 14-64. The Commissioner of Consumer Protection shall determine the size, type face, form and wording of the sign required by this section, which shall include the toll-free telephone number and the address to which requests for the department's arbitration services may be sent.
- Any consumer injured by the operation of any procedure which does not conform with procedures established by a manufacturer pursuant to subsection (b) of section 42-182 and the provisions of Title 16 Code of Federal Regulations Part 703, as in effect on October 1, 1982, may appeal any decision rendered as the result of such a procedure by requesting arbitration de novo of the dispute by an arbitration panel. Filing procedures and fees for appeals shall be the same as those required in subsection (b) of this section. The findings of the manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedure may be admissible in evidence at such arbitration panel hearing and in any civil action subsequently arising out of any warranty obligation or matter related to the dispute. Any consumer so injured may, in addition, request the Attorney General to investigate the manufacturer's procedure to determine whether its certification shall be suspended or revoked after proper notice and hearing. The Attorney General shall establish procedures for processing such consumer complaints and maintain a record of the disposition of such complaints, which record shall be included in the annual report prepared in accordance with the provisions of subsection (a) of section 42-182.
- The Commissioner of Consumer Protection shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to carry out the purposes of this section. Written copies of the regulations and appropriate arbitration hearing procedures shall be provided to any person upon request.
Connecticut Lemon law Sec. 42-182. Certification of manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedures.
The Attorney General shall prepare an annual report evaluating the operation of informal dispute settlement procedures established by manufacturers of new motor vehicles and shall issue a certificate of approval to those manufacturers whose settlement procedures comply in all respects with the provisions of Title 16 Code of Federal Regulations Part 703, as in effect on October 1, 1982, and with the provisions of subsection (b) of this section. The report and certification shall be public records. The Attorney General or an agent authorized by him may conduct any inquiry or investigation in connection with the certification or evaluation of a manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedure and may hold hearings, issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of witnesses and the production of records, documents or other evidence in connection therewith, administer oaths, examine witnesses, receive oral and documentary evidence and issue written interrogatories prescribing a return date which would allow a reasonable time to respond, which responses shall be under oath. Service of subpoenas compelling testimony or the production of documents and written interrogatories as provided herein, may be made by
- personal service or service at the usual place of abode; or
- registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, a duly executed copy of which shall be addressed to the person to be served at his principal place of business in this state, or, if said person has no principal place of business in this state, to his principal office or to his residence. In the event that any person shall fail to comply with a subpoena or with interrogatories issued pursuant to this section, the Attorney General or an agent authorized by him may apply to the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford-New Britain* for compliance, which court may, upon notice to such person, issue an order requiring such compliance, which shall be served upon such person. Hearings under this subsection shall be held in the manner provided for contested cases under sections 4-176e to 4-181a, inclusive, except that no informal disposition may be made by stipulation, agreed settlement, consent order or default, in any proceeding concerning the certification of an automobile manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedure unless such proceeding is open to the public in accordance with the provisions of section 1-21. The Attorney General, after notice and hearing, may suspend or revoke the certification of an automobile manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedure which violates the provisions of subsection (b) of this section or the provisions of Title 16 Code of Federal Regulations Part 703, as in effect on October 1, 1982. Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Attorney General or his authorized agent, may appeal in accordance with the provisions of sections 4-183 and 4-184. Section 4-184a shall be applicable to such appeals. Hearings, meetings and conferences, except telephone conversations, relating to evaluation and certification shall be open to the public in accordance with the provisions of section 1-21. If the Attorney General certifies a manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedure, the provisions of subsection (d) of section 42-179 concerning refunds or replacement shall not apply to any consumer who has not first resorted to such procedure. A copy of the Attorney General's report and certification shall be forwarded by the Attorney General to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, who may consider such report and certification in determining the fitness of an applicant for a manufacturer's license to engage in business as a manufacturer of motor vehicles for sale in this state, as provided for in section 14-67a.
A manufacturer's informal dispute procedure shall not include any practices which
- Delay a decision in any dispute beyond sixty days after the date on which the consumer initially resorts to the informal dispute settlement procedure either by a telephone call or by written notification that a dispute exists;
- delay performance of remedies awarded in a settlement beyond ten days after receipt of notice of the consumer's acceptance of the decision, except that a manufacturer may have thirty days following the date of such receipt to deliver a replacement of a motor vehicle acceptable to the consumer or to refund the full contract price of the vehicle together with all collateral charges, and all consequential and incidental damages as defined in said section 42-179;
- require the consumer to make the vehicle available more than once for inspection by a manufacturer's representative, and more than once for repair of the same defect by a dealer, in which cases, and upon proof of the consumer's financial responsibility in accordance with the provisions of section 14-112, the manufacturer of the defective vehicle shall provide for the loan of a reliable vehicle, not more than two years old, for use during the periods required for inspection or repair;
fail to consider in decisions any remedies provided by sections 42-179 and 42-181, this section and sections 42-183 and 42-184, such remedies to include
- repair, replacement and refund,
- reimbursement for expenses and collateral charges,
- compensation for consequential and incidental damages as defined in said section 42-179 and
- any other remedies available under applicable express or implied warranties;
- require the consumer to take any action or assume any obligation not specifically authorized under the provisions of Title 16 Code of Federal Regulations Part 703, as in effect on October 1, 1982; or
- fail to conform to all applicable standards and requirements of this chapter in the processing of consumer complaints.
Any manufacturer operating or participating in an informal dispute settlement procedure for resolving disputes with consumers in this state shall be required to maintain records which indicate the number of
- Vehicles sold in this state during the reporting period;
- telephone and written requests from consumers to enter the dispute resolution program;
- requests rejected as ineligible for the program;
- requests accepted for resolution by the program;
- cases in which a decision was reached and the manufacturer has complied with the decision within the time period for compliance established by the decision;
- cases in which a decision was reached and the manufacturer's compliance occurred after the expiration of the time period for compliance established by the decision;
- cases in which a decision was reached, the time period for compliance has expired and the manufacturer has not complied with such decision;
- cases in which a decision was reached and the time period for compliance has not yet expired;
- cases in which a decision awarded no relief to the consumer;
- cases in which a decision awarded the consumer further repair or extended warranty;
- cases in which a decision required the manufacturer to accept the return of the vehicle and a refund was issued to the consumer;
- cases in which a decision required the manufacturer to accept the return of the vehicle and a replacement vehicle was provided to the consumer;
- cases in which a decision is pending;
- cases in which the consumer accepted the decision;
- cases in which the consumer rejected the decision;
- cases resolved by predecision settlement.
(P.A. 84-338, S. 2, 8; P.A. 85-331, S. 3, 6; P.A. 87-522, S. 5, 6; P.A. 88-230, S. 1, 12; 88-317, S. 94, 107; P.A. 90-98, S. 1, 2; P.A. 93-142, S. 4, 7, 8; P.A. 95-220, S. 46.) *Note: On and after September 1, 1998, the phrase "judicial district of Hartford" shall be substituted for "judicial district of Hartford-New Britain". History: P.A. 85-331 empowered the attorney general to conduct hearings in connection with the certification or evaluation of manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedures, prohibited informal dispositions, unless such proceeding is open to the public, provided for the revocation of certification, appeals from decisions of the attorney general, required meetings relating to certification or evaluation to be open to the public, deleted the attorney general's power to adopt regulations, prohibited manufacturer's settlement procedures from failing to conform to standards of this chapter in processing consumer complaints; P.A. 87-522 amended Subsec. (a) by authorizing the attorney general to issue written interrogatories and prescribing the manner in which subpoenas may be served, and amended Subsec. (c) by specifying the type of records which manufacturers operating or participating in informal dispute settlement procedure are required to keep; P.A. 88-230 replaced "judicial district of Hartford-New Britain" with "judicial district of Hartford", effective September 1, 1991; P.A. 88-317 amended reference to Secs. 4-177 to 4-181 in Subsec. (a) to include new sections added to Ch. 54, effective July 1, 1989, and applicable to all agency proceedings commencing on or after that date; P.A. 90-98 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1991, to September 1, 1993; P.A. 93-142 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1993, to September 1, 1996, effective June 14, 1993; P.A. 95-220 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1996, to September 1, 1998, effective July 1, 1995. Cited. 203 C. 63, 65, 66, 70, 7380. Cited. 209 C. 579, 585, 586, 589, 590, 592594, 596. Lemon Law II cited. Id. Cited. 212 C. 8385, 8893, 97. Lemon Law II cited. Id. Cited. 213 C. 136, 137, 141, 142, 144. Lemon Law II cited. Id. Cited. 218 C. 646, 659, 660. Lemon Law II cited. Id. Subsec. (b): Cited. 209 C. 579, 587. Connecticut Lemon law Sec. 42-183. Institution of proceedings.
Connecticut Lemon law Sec. 42-184. Unfair trade practices.
Connecticut Lemon law Sec. 42-185. Waiver of filing fees, statement prohibited.
Connecticut Lemon law Sec. 42-186. Action brought by lessee against manufacturer.
Connecticut Lemon law Secs. 42-187 to 42-199.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a Federal Law that protects the buyer of any product which costs more than $25 and comes with an express written warranty. This law applies to any product that you buy that does not perform as it should.
Your car is a major investment, rationalized by the peace of mind that flows from its expected dependability and safety. Accordingly, you are entitled to expect an automobile properly constructed and regulated to provide reasonably safe, trouble-free, and dependable transportation – regardless of the exact make and model you bought. Unfortunately, sometimes these principles do not hold true and defects arise in automobiles. Although one defect is not actionable, repeated defects are as there exists a generally accepted rule that unsuccessful repair efforts render the warrantor liable. Simply put, there comes a time when “enough is enough” – when after having to take your car into the shop for repairs an inordinate number of times and experiencing all of the attendant inconvenience, you are entitled to say, ‘That’s all,’ and revoke, notwithstanding the seller’s repeated good faith efforts to fix the car. The rationale behind these basic principles is clear: once your faith in the vehicle is shaken, the vehicle loses its real value to you and becomes an instrument whose integrity is impaired and whose operation is fraught with apprehension. The question thus becomes when is “enough”?
As you know, enough is never enough from your warrantor’s point of view and you should simply continue to have your defective vehicle repaired – time and time again. However, you are not required to allow a warrantor to tinker with your vehicle indefinitely in the hope that it may eventually be fixed. Rather, you are entitled to expect your vehicle to be repaired within a reasonable opportunity. To this end, both the federal Moss Warranty Act, and the various state “lemon laws,” require repairs to your vehicle be performed within a reasonable opportunity.
Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a warrantor should perform adequate repairs in at least two, and possibly three, attempts to correct a particular defect. Further, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act’s reasonableness requirement applies to your vehicle as a whole rather than to each individual defect that arises. Although most of the Lemon Laws vary from state to state, each individual law usually require a warrantor to cure a specific defect within four to five attempts or the automobile as a whole within thirty days. If the warrantor fails to meet this obligation, most of the lemon laws provide for a full refund or new replacement vehicle. Further, this reasonable number of attempts/reasonable opportunity standard, whether it be that of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or that of the Lemon Laws, is akin to strict liability – once this threshold has been met, the continued existence of a defect is irrelevant and you are still entitled to relief.
One of the most important parts of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is its fee shifting provision. This provision provides that you may recover the attorney fees incurred in the prosecution of your case if you are successful – independent of how much you actually win. That rational behind this fee shifting provision is to twofold: (1) to ensure you will be able to vindicate your rights without having to expend large sums on attorney's fees and (2) because automobile manufacturers are able to write off all expenses of defense as a legitimate business expense, whereas you, the average consumer, obviously does not have that kind of economic staying power. Most of the Lemon Laws contain similar fee shifting provisions.
You may also derive additional warranty rights from the Uniform Commercial Code; however, the Code does not allow you in most states to recover your attorney fees and is also not as consumer friendly as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or the various state lemon laws.
The narrative information on Magnuson-Moss, UCC and Connecticut lemon laws on these pages is provided by Marshall Meyers, attorney.
Uniform Commercial Code Summary
The Uniform Commercial Code or UCC has been enacted in all 50 states and some of the territories of the United States. It is the primary source of law in all contracts dealing with the sale of products. The TARR refers to Tender, Acceptance, Rejection, Revocation and applies to different aspects of the consumer's "relationship" with the purchased goods.
TENDER - The tender provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code contained in Section2-601 provide that the buyer is entitled to reject any goods that fail in any respect to conform to the contract. Unfortunately, new cars are often technically complex and their innermost workings are beyond the understanding of the average new car buyer. The buyer, therefore, does not know whether the goods are then conforming.
ACCEPTANCE - The new car buyer accepts the goods believing and expecting that the manufacturer will repair any problem he has with the goods under the warranty.
REJECTION - The new car buyer may discover a problem with the vehicle within the first few miles of his purchase. This would allow the new car buyer to reject the goods. If the new car buyer discovers a defect in the car within a reasonable time to inspect the vehicle, he may reject the vehicle. This period is not defined. On the one hand, the buyer must be given a reasonable time to inspect and that reasonable time to inspect will be held as an acceptance of the vehicle. The Courts will decide this reasonable time to inspect based on the knowledge and experience of the buyer, the difficulty in discovering the defect, and the opportunity to discover the defect. The following is an example of a case of rejection
Mr. Zabriskie purchase a new 1966 Chevrolet Biscayne. After picking up the car on Friday evening, while en route to his home 2.5 miles away, and within 7/10ths of a mile from the dealership, the car stalled and stalled again within 15 feet. Thereafter, the car would only drive in low gear. The buyer rejected the vehicle and stopped payment on his check. The dealer contended that the buyer could not reject the car because he had driven it around the block and that was his reasonable opportunity to inspect. The New Jersey Court said;
To the layman, the complicated mechanisms of today's automobile are a complete mystery. To have the automobile inspected by someone with sufficient expertise to disassemble the vehicle in order the discover latent defects before the contract is signed, is assuredly impossible and highly impractical. Consequently, the first few miles of driving become even more significant to the excited new car buyer. This is the buyer's first reasonable opportunity to enjoy his new vehicle to see if it conforms to what it was represented to be and whether he is getting what he bargained for. How long the buyer may drive the new car under the guise of inspection of new goods is not an issue in the present case because 7/10th of a mile is clearly within the ambit of a reasonable opportunity to inspect. Zabriskie Chevrolet, Inc. v. Smith, 240 A. 2d 195(1968)
It is suggested that Courts will tend to excuse use by consumers if possible.
REVOCATION - What happens when the consumer has used the new car for a lengthy period of time? This is the typical lemon car case. The UCC provides that a buyer may revoke his acceptance of goods whose non-conformity substantially impairs the value of the goods to him when he has accepted the goods without discovery of a non-conformity because it was difficult to discover or if he was assured that non-conformities would be repaired. Of course, the average new car buyer does not learn of the nonconformity until hundreds of thousands of miles later. And because quality is job one, and manufacturers are competing on the basis of their warranties, the consumer always is assured that any noncomformities he does discover will be remedied. What is a noncomformity substantially impairing the value of the vehicle?
- A noncomformity may include a number of relatively minor defects whose cumulative total adds up to a substantial impairment. This is the "Shake Faith" Doctrine first stated in the Zabrisikie case. "For a majority of people the purchase of a new car is a major investment, rationalized by the peace of mind that flows from its dependability and safety. Once their faith is shaken, the vehicle loses not only its real value in their eyes, but becomes an instrument whose integrity is substantially impaired and whose operation is fraught with apprehension".
- A substantial noncomformity may include a failure or refusal to repair the goods under the warranty. In Durfee V. Rod Baxter Imports, the Minnesota Court held that the Saab owner that was plagued by a series of of annoying minor defects and stalling, which were never repaired after a number of attempts, could revoke, "if repairs are not successfully undertaken within a reasonable time", the consumer may elect to revoke.
- Substantial Non Conformity and Lemon Laws often define what may be considered a substantial impairment. These definitions have been successfully used to flesh out the substantial impairment in the UCC.
Additional narrative information on Magnusson-Moss, UCC and Connecticut lemon laws on these pages is provided by T. Michael Flinn, attorney.