Arizona Lemon Law 44-1261. Definitions; exemptions
- In this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
- “Consumer” means the purchaser, other than for purposes of resale, of a motor vehicle, any person to whom the motor vehicle is transferred during the duration of an express warranty applicable to the motor vehicle or any other person entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty.
- “Motor vehicle” means a self-propelled vehicle designated primarily for the transportation of persons or property over the public highways.
- If the motor vehicle is a motor home, the provisions of this article shall apply to the self-propelled vehicle and chassis but does not include those portions of the vehicle designed, used or maintained primarily as a mobile dwelling, office or commercial space.
- The provisions of this article do not apply to a motor vehicle with a declared gross weight over ten thousand pounds.
Arizona Lemon Law 44-1262. New motor vehicle; repair during express warranty or two years or twenty-four thousand miles
- If a new motor vehicle does not conform to all applicable express warranties:
- A consumer shall report the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer or issuer of a warranty during the shorter of the following:
- The term of the express warranty.
- The period of two years or twenty-four thousand miles following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to the consumer, whichever is earlier.
- The manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer or the issuer of a warranty shall make those repairs that are necessary to conform the motor vehicle to such express warranties, even if the repairs are made after the expiration of the term or two year period or twenty-four thousand mile limit.
- A consumer shall report the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer or issuer of a warranty during the shorter of the following:
- This section does not limit in any way the remedies available to a consumer under a new motor vehicle warranty that extends beyond the limits prescribed in this section.
Arizona Lemon Law 44-1263 . Inability to conform motor vehicle to express warranty; replacement of vehicle or refund of monies; affirmative defenses
- If the manufacturer, its agents or its authorized dealers are unable to conform the motor vehicle to any applicable express warranty by repairing or correcting any defect or condition which substantially impairs the use and value of the motor vehicle to the consumer after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer shall replace the motor vehicle with a new motor vehicle or accept return of the 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. The manufacturer shall make refunds to the consumer and lienholder, if any, as their interests appear. A reasonable allowance for use is that amount directly attributable to use by the consumer before his first written report of the nonconformity to the manufacturer, agent or dealer and during any subsequent period when the vehicle is not out of service by reason of repair.
- It is an affirmative defense to any claim under this article that either:
- An alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use and market value of the motor vehicle.
- A nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the motor vehicle.
Arizona Lemon Law 44-1264 . Reasonable number of attempts to conform motor vehicle to express warranty; presumption
- It is presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform a motor vehicle to the applicable express warranties if either:
- The same nonconformity has been subject to repair four or more times by the manufacturer or its agents or authorized dealers during the shorter of the express warranty term or the period of two years or twenty-four thousand miles following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to the consumer, whichever is earlier, but the nonconformity continues to exist.
- The motor vehicle is out of service by reason of repair for a cumulative total of thirty or more calendar days during the shorter of the express warranty term or the two year period or twenty-four thousand miles, whichever is earlier.
- The term of an express warranty, the two year period and the thirty day period are extended by any period of time during which repair services are not available to the consumer because of any war, invasion, strike, fire, flood or other natural disaster.
- The presumption prescribed in this section does not apply against a manufacturer unless the manufacturer has received prior direct written notification from or on behalf of the consumer of the alleged defect and has had an opportunity to cure the alleged defect.
Arizona Lemon Law 44-1265 . No limitation of rights; refund or replacement not required if certain procedures not followed; attorney fees
- a. If a manufacturer has established or participates in an informal dispute settlement procedure which complies in all respects with 16 code of federal regulations part 703, section 44-1263 relating to refunds or replacement does not apply to any consumer who has not first resorted to such a procedure.
- b. A consumer shall begin an action under this article within six months following the earlier of expiration of the express warranty term or two years or twenty-four thousand miles following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to the consumer, whichever is earlier. If a consumer prevails in an action under this article, the court shall award the consumer reasonable costs and attorney fees.
Arizona Lemon Law 44-1266 . Notice to dealers and prospective purchasers
- A manufacturer who has been ordered by judgment or decree to replace or repurchase a motor vehicle pursuant to this article or the repair or replace laws of another state shall, before offering the motor vehicle for resale, attach to the motor vehicle written notification indicating the motor vehicle has been replaced or repurchased. A consumer has a cause of action against any person who removes the written notification from the motor vehicle, except as provided in subsection B of this section.
- A motor vehicle dealer, broker, wholesale motor vehicle dealer or wholesale motor vehicle auction dealer as defined in section 28-4301 who offers for sale a motor vehicle that has been replaced or repurchased pursuant to this article or the repair or replace laws of another state shall provide the purchaser with the manufacturer’s written notification indicating that the motor vehicle has been replaced or repurchased before completion of the sale.
- It shall constitute an affirmative defense in an action brought pursuant to subsection A of this section against a motor vehicle dealer or an agent of a motor vehicle dealer that the notification described in subsection A of this section was removed by someone other than the dealer or agent without the knowledge of the dealer or agent.
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 Arizona 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 nonconformities he does discover will be remedied.
What 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 Magnusson-Moss, UCC and Arizona lemon laws on these pages is provided by T. Michael Flinn, attorney.