Utah Lemon Law

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Utah Lemon Law

Utah Lemon Law R152-20-1. Authority and Purpose.

These rules are promulgated to prescribe for the administration of Title 13, Chapter 20, the New Motor Vehicle Warranties Act (hereinafter the “Act”), and are under the authority granted the Division under Section 13-2-5.

Utah Lemon Law R152-20-2. Definitions.

  1. For purposes of determining whether a nonconformity has been subject to repair the required number of times, an “attempt” to repair, as used in Section 13-20-4 or 13-20-5, means that the vehicle is or has been presented to the manufacturer or its agent for the same non-conformity.
  2. “Collateral charges” as used in Section 13-20-4 includes, but is not limited to:
    1. Sales taxes
    2. Document preparation fees
    3. The cost of additional warranties or extended warranties, if included in the purchase price
  3. “Comparable new motor vehicle” means:
    1. A motor vehicle that is determined by the division to be identical to, or reasonably equivalent to, the nonconforming vehicle had it conformed to all applicable express warranties. A comparable new motor vehicle includes any service contracts, contract options, and factory or dealer installed options that were originally included in the sale of the nonconforming vehicle; or
    2. A vehicle with an equivalent retail value including any service contracts, and factory or dealer installed options that were originally included with the nonconforming vehicle, if the consumer consents to a different make or model.
  4. “New motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle which has never been titled or registered and has been driven fewer than 7,500 miles.
  5. “Nonconforming vehicle” means a motor vehicle that does not meet all express warranties provided in the sales agreement or contract.
  6. “Purchase price” means the actual amount paid for the vehicle. “Purchase price” includes taxes, licensing fees, and additional warranty fees, but does not include collateral charges.
  7. “Reasonable allowance” for mileage means the dollar value based on the prescribed deduction per mile. The cap on a reasonable allowance shall be calculated as the purchase price divided by 100,000, but shall not in any case be less than ten (10) cents per mile nor more than twenty-one (21) cents per mile. The consumer shall not be liable for mileage on the vehicle at the time of delivery, nor for mileage during the time the vehicle was being repaired.

Utah Lemon Law R152-20-3. Replacement or Refund of Nonconforming Motor Vehicles.

  1. When the manufacturer is repurchasing a nonconforming motor vehicle that has been leased to a consumer, the following provisions also apply:
    1. The manufacturer shall refund to the lessor all payments made under the lease.
    2. The refund or repurchase price shall include trade-in value, inception payment, and security deposit.
    3. The manufacturer shall make all payments on behalf of the lessee, to the lessor and/or lienholder of record as necessary to obtain clear title to the motor vehicle. The excess from said payments shall be paid to lessee. Upon the lessor’s and/or lienholder’s receipt of the payment, the consumer shall be relieved of any future obligation to the lessor and/or lienholder.
  2. If a manufacturer is unable to provide a comparable new motor vehicle, it may provide, upon the consent of the consumer, a replacement vehicle of comparable quality. The customer shall not incur additional expense with respect to the replacement vehicle, except as a reasonable allowance for use of the buy-back vehicle.

KEY: automobiles, automobile repair, consumer protection, motor vehicles

Date of last substantive amendment: 1991

Notice of Continuation September 11, 1997

This rule is authorized by, and implements or interprets, the following: 63-46a-3, 13-2-5, 13-20-1

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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 Utah lemon laws on these pages is provided by Marshall Meyers, attorney.

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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?

  1. 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”.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 Utah lemon laws on these pages is provided by T. Michael Flinn, attorney.

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