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Pennsylvania Lemon Law Statutes
Title 73 Chapter 28, Sections 1951-1963
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1951. Short title.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1952. Definitions.
- " Dealer" or "motor vehicle dealer." A person in the business of buying, selling or exchanging vehicles.
- " Manufacturer." Any person engaged in the business of constructing or assembling new and unused motor vehicles or engaged in the business of importing new and unused motor vehicles into the United States for the purpose of selling or distributing new and unused motor vehicles to motor vehicle dealers in this Commonwealth.
- " Manufacturer's express warranty" or "warranty." The written warranty of the manufacturer of a new automobile of its condition and fitness for use, including any terms or conditions precedent to the enforcement of obligations under the warranty.
- " New motor vehicle." Any new and unused self-propelled, motorized conveyance driven upon public roads, streets or highways which is designed to transport not more than 15 persons, which was purchased and is registered in the Commonwealth and is used or bought for use primarily for personal, family or household purposes, including a vehicle used by a manufacturer or dealer as a demonstrator or dealer car prior to its sale. The term does not include motorcycles, motor homes or off-road vehicles.
- " Nonconformity." A defect or condition which substantially impairs the use, value or safety of a new motor vehicle and does not conform to the manufacturerÍs express warranty.
- " Purchaser." A person, or his successors or assigns, who has obtained ownership of a new motor vehicle by transfer or purchase or who has entered into an agreement or contract for the purchase of a new motor vehicle which is used or bought for use primarily for personal, family or household purposes.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1953. Disclosure.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1954. Repair obligations.
- Repairs required. -The manufacturer of a new motor vehicle sold and registered in the Commonwealth shall repair or correct, at no cost to the purchaser, a nonconformity which substantially impairs the use, value or safety of said motor vehicle which may occur within a period of one year following the actual delivery of the vehicle to the purchaser, within the first 12,000 miles of use or during the term of the warranty, whichever may first occur.
- Delivery of vehicle. -It shall be the duty of the purchaser to deliver the nonconforming vehicle to the manufacturer's authorized service and repair facility within the Commonwealth, unless, due to reasons of size and weight or method of attachment or method of installation or nature of the nonconformity, such delivery cannot reasonably be accomplished. Should the purchaser be unable to effect return of the nonconforming vehicle, he shall notify the manufacturer or its authorized service and repair facility. Written notice of nonconformity to the manufacturer or its authorized service and repair facility shall constitute return of the vehicle when [the] purchaser is unable to return the vehicle due to the nonconformity. Upon receipt of such notice of nonconformity, the manufacturer shall, at its option, service or repair the vehicle at the location of nonconformity or pick up the vehicle for service and repair or arrange for transporting the vehicle to its authorized service and repair facility. All costs of transporting the vehicle when [the] purchaser is unable to effect return, due to nonconformity, shall be at the manufacturer's expense.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1955. Manufacturer's duty for refund or replacement.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1956. Presumption of a reasonable number of attempts.
- the same nonconformity has been subject to repair three times by the manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealers and the nonconformity still exists; or
- the vehicle is out-of-service by reason of any nonconformity for a cumulative total of 30 or more calendar days.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1957. Itemized statement required.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1958. Civil cause of action.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1959. Informal dispute settlement procedure.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1960. Resale of returned motor vehicle.
Vehicles may not be resold.-If a motor vehicle has been returned under the provisions of this act or a similar statute of another state, it may not be resold in this State unless:
- The manufacturer provides the same express warranty it provided to the original purchaser, except that the term of the warranty need only last for 12,000 miles or 12 months after the date of resale, whichever is earlier.
The manufacturer provides the consumer with a written statement on a separate piece of paper, in ten point all capital type, in substantially the following form:
" IMPORTANT: THIS VEHICLE WAS RETURNED TO THE MANUFACTURER BECAUSE IT DID NOT CONFORM TO THE MANUFACTURER'S EXPRESS WARRANTY AND THE NON-CONFORMITY WAS NOT CURED WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME AS PROVIDED BY PENNSYLVANIA LAW."
- Returned vehicles not to be resold.-Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), if a new motor vehicle has been returned under the provisions of this act or a similar statute of another state because of a nonconformity resulting in a complete failure of the braking or steering system of the motor vehicle likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle was driven, the motor vehicle may not be resold in this Commonwealth.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1961. Application of unfair trade act.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1962. Rights preserved.
Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1963. Nonwaiver of act.
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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania lemon laws on these pages is provided by T. Michael Flinn, attorney.