Pennsylvania Lemon Law

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Pennsylvania Lemon Law

Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1951. Short title.

This act shall be known and may be cited as the Automobile Lemon Law.

Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1952. Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this act shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

  1. ” Dealer” or “motor vehicle dealer.” A person in the business of buying, selling or exchanging vehicles.
  2. ” 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.
  3. ” 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.
  4. ” 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.
  5. ” 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.
  6. ” 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.

The Attorney General shall prepare and publish in the Pennsylvania Bulletin a statement which explains a purchaser’s rights under this law. Manufacturers shall provide to each purchaser at the time of original purchase of a new motor vehicle a written statement containing a copy of the Attorney GeneralÍs statement and a listing of zone offices, with addresses and phone numbers, which can be contacted by the purchaser for the purpose of securing the remedies provided for in this act.

Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1954. Repair obligations.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

If the manufacturer fails to repair or correct a nonconformity after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer shall, at the option of the purchaser, replace the motor vehicle with a comparable motor vehicle of equal value or accept return of the vehicle from the purchaser and refund to the purchaser the full purchase price, including all collateral charges, less a reasonable allowance for the purchaser’s use of the vehicle not exceeding the per mile driven or 10ä of the purchase price of the vehicle whichever is less. Refunds shall be made to the purchaser and lienholder, if any, as their interests may appear. A reasonable allowance for use shall be that amount directly attributable to use by the purchaser prior to his first report of the nonconformity to the manufacturer. In the event the consumer elects a refund, payment shall be made within 30 days of such election. A consumer shall not be entitled to a refund or replacement if the nonconformity does not substantially impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle or the nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect or modification or alteration of the motor vehicle by the purchaser.

Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1956. Presumption of a reasonable number of attempts.

It shall be presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to repair or correct a nonconformity if:

  1. the same nonconformity has been subject to repair three times by the manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealers and the nonconformity still exists; or
  2. 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.

The manufacturer or dealer shall provide to the purchaser each time the purchaser’s vehicle is returned from being serviced or repaired a fully itemized statement indicating all work performed on said vehicle including, but not limited to, parts and labor. It shall be the duty of a dealer to notify the manufacturer of the existence of a nonconformity within seven days of the delivery by a purchaser of a vehicle subject to a nonconformity when it is delivered to the same dealer for the second time for repair of the same nonconformity. The notification shall be by certified mail, return receipt requested.

Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1958. Civil cause of action.

Any purchaser of a new motor vehicle who suffers any loss due to nonconformity of such vehicle as a result of the manufacturer’s failure to comply with this act may bring a civil action in a court of common pleas and, in addition to other relief, shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and all court costs.

Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1959. Informal dispute settlement procedure.

If the manufacturer has established an informal dispute settlement procedure which complies with the provisions of 16 CFR Pt. 703, as from time to time amended, the provisions of section 8 [73 P.S. § 1958] shall not apply to any purchaser who has not first resorted to such procedure as it relates to a remedy for defects or conditions affecting the substantial use, value or safety of the vehicle. The informal dispute settlement procedure shall not be binding on the purchaser and, in lieu of such settlement, the purchaser may pursue a remedy under section 8 [73 P.S. § 1958.

Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1960. Resale of returned motor vehicle.

  1. 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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.”

    The provisions of this section apply to the resold motor vehicle for the full term of the warranty required under this subsection.

  2. 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.

A violation of this act shall also be a violation of the act of December 17, 1968 (P.L. 1224, No. 387), known as the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1962. Rights preserved.

Nothing in this act shall limit the purchaser from pursuing any other rights or remedies under any other law, contract or warranty.

Pennsylvania Lemon Law 1963. Nonwaiver of act.

The provisions of this act shall not be waived.

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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 Pennsylvania  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 Pennsylvania lemon laws on these pages is provided by T. Michael Flinn, attorney.

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