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.
North Dakota Lemon Law Statutes
- "Consumer" means the purchaser or lessee, other than for purposes of resale or lease, of a passenger motor vehicle normally used for personal, family, or household purposes. The term includes any person to whom the passenger motor vehicle is transferred for the same purposes during the duration of an express warranty applicable to that passenger motor vehicle, and any other person entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty.
- "Passenger motor vehicle" means a passenger motor vehicle as defined in section 39-01-01 or a truck with registered gross weight of ten thousand pounds [4536 kilograms] or less which is sold or leased in this state. The term does not include a house car, as defined in section 39-01-01.
- If the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer is unable to make the passenger motor vehicle conform to any applicable express warranty by repairing or correcting any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use and market value of the passenger motor vehicle, after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer shall replace that passenger motor vehicle with a comparable passenger motor vehicle or accept return of the passenger motor vehicle from the consumer, and refund to the consumer the full purchase price, including all collateral charges, less a reasonable allowance for the consumer's use of the vehicle not exceeding ten cents per mile [1.61 kilometers] driven or ten percent of the purchase price, whichever is less. Refunds must be made to the consumer, the lessor, and the lienholder, if any, as their interests may appear. A reasonable allowance for use is the amount directly attributable to use by the consumer before the consumer's first report of the nonconformity to the manufacturer, agent, or dealer, and during any subsequent period when the vehicle is not out of service for repair.
At is an affirmative defense to any claim under sections 51-07-16 through 51-07-22:
- That an alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use and market value of the passenger motor vehicle; or
- That a nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the passenger motor vehicle by a consumer.
- If a manufacturer has established or participates in an informal dispute settlement procedure that substantially complies with the substantive rules of the federal trade commission, 16 CFR 703, or if the manufacturer participates in a consumer and industry appeals, arbitration, or mediation appeals board whose decisions are binding on the manufacturer, the remedy under subsection 1 is not available to a consumer who has not first resorted to that procedure. If the consumer requests an oral presentation before the board or dispute settlement mechanism, the hearing must take place in the state in which the consumer resides. The attorney general shall, on application, issue a determination of whether an informal dispute resolution mechanism qualifies under this subsection.
- The manufacturer shall provide to the lessee the sum of all payments previously paid to the motor vehicle lessor by the lessee less a reasonable allowance for the consumer's use of the vehicle. Payments include all cash payments, security deposits, and trade-in allowance, if any, tendered by the lessee to the motor vehicle lessor under the lease agreement.
The manufacturer shall provide to the motor vehicle lessor the sum of the following:
- The lessor's actual purchase cost, less payments made by the lessee;
- The freight cost, if applicable;
- The cost for dealer or manufacturer installed accessories, if applicable; and
- An amount equal to five percent of the lessor's actual purchase cost as provided in subdivision a. The amount in this subdivision is in lieu of any early termination costs or penalties described in the lease agreement.
- Upon return of the passenger motor vehicle, the consumer's lease agreement with the lessor is terminated and no penalty for early termination may be assessed.
- Any refund to be paid to the motor vehicle lessor must be made to the lessor and lienholder, if any, as their interests may appear.
It is presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to make a passenger motor vehicle conform to the applicable express warranties, if:
- The same nonconformity has continued to exist, despite having been subject to repair more than three times by the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer, within the express warranty term or within one year of the date of original delivery of the passenger motor vehicle to a consumer, whichever is the earlier date.
- The passenger motor vehicle is out of service for repair for a cumulative total of at least thirty business days during the warranty term or in a year, whichever is less.
- The term of an express warranty, the one-year period, and the thirty-day period, are extended by any period during which repair services are not available to the consumer because of war, invasion, strike, fire, flood, or other natural disaster.
- The presumption does not apply against a manufacturer unless the manufacturer has received prior direct notification from or on behalf of the consumer and an opportunity to cure the alleged defect.
A person may not sell or lease in this state a passenger motor vehicle that was returned to the manufacturer in accordance with sections 51-07-16 through 51-07-22, unless the manufacturer provides:
- The same express warranty it provided to the original purchaser, except the term of the warranty must be for at least twelve thousand miles or twelve months after the date of resale, whichever is earlier; and
- The purchaser a statement on a separate document that must be signed by the manufacturer and the purchaser and must be in ten point, capitalized type, in substantially the following form: "IMPORTANT: THIS VEHICLE WAS RETURNED TO THE MANUFACTURER BECAUSE DEFECTS COVERED BY THE MANUFACTURER'S EXPRESSED WARRANTY WERE NOT REPAIRED WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME AS PROVIDED BY NORTH DAKOTA LAW".
- A person may not ship or deliver for resale or lease in another state a passenger motor vehicle returned to the manufacturer in accordance with sections 51-07-16 through 51-07-22 unless full disclosure of the reasons for return is made to any prospective buyer.
- Violation of this section is a class B misdemeanor.
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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina lemon laws on these pages is provided by T. Michael Flinn, attorney.