Alaska Lemon Law Statutes
Alaska Lemon law Title 45, Chapter 45, Article 6, Sections 305 - 360
Alaska Lemon law AS 45.45.305. Replacement or Refund.
If during the term of the express warranty or within one year from the date of delivery of the motor vehicle to the original owner, whichever period terminates first, the manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or repairing agent is unable to conform the motor vehicle to an applicable express warranty after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer or distributor shall accept the return of the nonconforming motor vehicle, and, at the owner's option, shall replace the nonconforming vehicle with a new, comparable vehicle or shall refund the full purchase price to the owner less a reasonable allowance for the use of the motor vehicle from the time it was delivered to the original owner. A refund under this section shall be made to a lien holder of record, if any, and the owner, as their interests may appear.
Alaska Lemon law AS 45.45.310. Notice By Owner.
In order to claim a refund or replacement under AS 45.45.305, the owner shall give written notice by certified mail to the manufacturer and its dealer or repairing agent at any time before 60 days have elapsed after the expiration of the express warranty or the one-year period after the date of delivery of the motor vehicle to the original owner, whichever period terminates first,
- stating that the vehicle has a nonconformity;
- providing a reasonable description of the nonconformity;
- stating that the manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or repairing agent has made a reasonable number of attempts to conform the vehicle; and
- stating that the owner demands a refund or replacement vehicle to be delivered on the 60th day after the mailing of the written notice. Within 30 days after receiving the notice required by this section the manufacturer may make a final attempt to conform the vehicle before a refund or replacement is made under AS 45.45.305.
Alaska Lemon law AS 45.45.315. Exceptions.
An owner may not receive a refund or replacement under AS 45.45.300 - 45.45.360 if the manufacturer or distributor shows that the nonconformity complained of
- does not substantially impair either the use or the market value of the motor vehicle; or
- is the result of alteration of the motor vehicle by the owner or a person other than a dealer or repairing agent that is not authorized by the manufacturer or distributor; or abuse or neglect by the owner or a person other than the dealer or repairing agent.
Alaska Lemon law AS 45.45.320. Presumption.
A presumption that a reasonable number of attempts have been made to conform a motor vehicle under an applicable express warranty is established if:
- the same nonconformity has been subject to repair three or more times by the manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or repairing agent during the term of the express warranty or the one-year period after delivery of the motor vehicle to the original owner, whichever period terminates first, but the nonconformity continues to exist; or
- the vehicle is out of service for repair for a total of 30 or more business days during the express warranty term or the one-year period referred to in (1) of this section, whichever period terminates first; any period of time that repairs are not performed for reasons that are beyond the control of the manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or repairing agent is excluded from the 30-day time period referred to in this paragraph.
Alaska Lemon law AS 45.45.325. Parts Availability.
A manufacturer whose vehicles are sold in the state through an authorized dealer shall provide its dealer or repairing agent with any part necessary to make a repair of a nonconformity covered under an express warranty, as soon as possible, without additional charge for freight or handling, if the part is not in the dealer's or agent's inventory when the nonconforming vehicle is brought to the dealer or repairing agent for repair.
Alaska Lemon law AS 45.45.335. Resale Without Disclosure Prohibited.
A motor vehicle returned under AS 45.45.305 may not be resold by the manufacturer or distributor in the state unless full disclosure of the reason for the return is made to the prospective buyer before the resale is concluded.
Alaska Lemon law AS 45.45.340. Other rights and remedies.
The provisions of AS 45.45.300 - 45.45.360 do not limit other rights and remedies that may be available to the owner of a motor vehicle under other provisions of Alaska Lemon law. This section does not create a new cause of action against a dealer or repairing agent who sells or attempts to repair a motor vehicle found to be nonconforming under AS 45.45.300 - 45.45.360.
Alaska Lemon law AS 45.45.345. Repair Facilities.
A manufacturer or distributor or motor vehicles who authorizes the sale of the manufacturer's or distributor's motor vehicles in the state shall maintain authorized dealership facilities within the state that are able to perform the service and make the repairs required by the manufacturer's express warranty and by AS 45.45.300 - 45.45.360.
Alaska Lemon law AS 45.45.350. Reimbursement of Shipping Costs.
A manufacturer or distributor who accepts the return of a nonconforming motor vehicle under AS 45.45.305 shall reimburse the owner for any reasonable cost incurred in shipping the vehicle to and from the nearest authorized facility for warranty service and repair of a nonconformity that causes the return of the vehicle.
Alaska Lemon law AS 45.45.355. Arbitration or Mediation.
If a manufacturer or distributor has established an informal dispute settlement procedure that substantially complies with the requirements of 16 C.F.R. 703, as that section may be amended, or if the manufacturer or distributor, after receipt of notice required by AS 45.45.310, offers in writing to participate in an arbitration or mediation process with the owner and the arbitration or mediation decision is binding on the manufacturer or distributor but not on the owner, and if the informal dispute settlement or arbitration or mediation process is approved by the attorney general, the provisions of AS 45.45.305 concerning refund or replacement or AS 45.45.350 concerning shipping costs do not apply to an owner who has not first resorted to the informal dispute settlement procedure or arbitration or mediation process.
Alaska Lemon law AS 45.45.360. Definitions.
Definitions in AS 45.45.300 - 45.45.360:
- "dealer" means a person who has obtained a franchise from, or is authorized by, a motor vehicle manufacturer to engage in the retail sale and warranty repair of the manufacturer's new motor vehicles in the state;
- "distributor" means a person who is authorized by a manufacturer to engage in the wholesale distribution of the manufacturer's new motor vehicles in the state;
- "express warranty" or "warranty" means an express written warranty provided by the manufacturer of a new motor vehicle;
- "full purchase price" means the total price paid for a motor vehicle by the original owner, including costs added to the retail price, such as original registration fees, transportation fees, dealer preparation, and dealer installed options;
- "manufacturer" means a person who by labor transforms raw materials and component parts into motor vehicles for wholesale or retail sale;
- "motor vehicle" or "vehicle" means a land vehicle having four or more wheels, that is self-propelled by a motor, is normally used for personal, family, or household purposes, and is required to be registered under AS 28.10; but does not include a tractor, farm vehicle, or a vehicle designed primarily for off-road use;
- "nonconformity" means a defect or condition in a motor vehicle caused by a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or repairing agent that substantially impairs the use or market value of a vehicle;
- "owner"means a purchaser, other than for resale, of a new motor vehicle, and a person to whom ownership of the motor vehicle is transferred in conformity with AS 28;
- "reasonable allowance" means an amount attributable to an owner's use of a motor vehicle; a "reasonable allowance" may not exceed an amount equal to the depreciation in value of the vehicle for the period during which the vehicle is available for use by the owner, calculated by a straight line depreciation method over seven years, plus an amount equal to the depreciation in value of the vehicle that is caused by any neglect or abuse by the owner; or body damage not caused by a nonconformity;
- "repairing agent"means a person who has been specifically authorized by a motor vehicle manufacturer or distributor to perform warranty repairs in the state on one or more of the manufacturer's or distributor's motor vehicles;
- "substantially impairs the market value"means a nonconformity that substantially decreases the dollar value of a vehicle to the owner when compared to the dollar value of a similar vehicle that does not have the nonconformity;
- "substantially impairs the use" means a nonconformity that prevents a motor vehicle from being operated or makes the vehicle unsafe to operate.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
TheThe 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 nonconformities he does discover will be remedied.
is a nonconformity substantially impairing the value of the vehicle?
- A nonconformity 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 nonconformity 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 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 Magnuson-Moss, UCC and Alaska lemon laws on these pages is provided by T. Michael Flinn, attorney.