Georgia's Lemon Law
This article shall be known and may be cited as the "Motor Vehicle Warranty Rights Act."
The General Assembly recognizes that a new motor vehicle is a major consumer purchase and that a defective motor vehicle is likely to create hardship for, or may cause injury to, the consumer. It is the intent of the General Assembly to ensure that the consumer is made aware of his or her rights under this article. In enacting these comprehensive measures, it is the intent of the General Assembly to create the proper blend of private and public remedies necessary to enforce this article.
Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this Code section apply throughout this article. As used in this article, the term:
(1) "Administrator" means the administrator appointed pursuant to Code Section 10-1-395.
(2) "Collateral charges" means those additional charges to a consumer or lessor wholly incurred as a result of the acquisition purchase of the motor vehicle. For the purposes of this article, collateral charges include but are not limited to manufacturer installed or dealer installed items or service charges, earned finance charges incurred by a consumer in the case of a purchase, and by the lessor in the case of a lease, sales tax, and title charges.
(3) "Consumer" means any person who has entered into an agreement or contract for the transfer, lease, or purchase of a new motor vehicle primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, regardless of how the documents characterize the transaction. The term shall also mean and include any sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation which is a commercial owner or lessee of no more than three new motor vehicles and which has ten or fewer employees and a net income after taxes of $100,000.00 per annum or less for federal income tax purposes. For the limited purpose of enforcing the rights granted under this article, the term "consumer" will also include any person or entity regularly engaged in the business of leasing new motor vehicles to consumers.
(4) "Court" means the superior court in the county where the consumer resides, except if the consumer does not reside in this state, then the superior court in the county where an arbitration hearing or determination was conducted or made pursuant to this article.
(5) "Distributor" means a person or entity holding a distribution agreement with a manufacturer for the distribution of new motor vehicles to new motor vehicle dealers or who is licensed or otherwise authorized to utilize trademarks or service marks associated with one or more makes of motor vehicles in connection with such distribution, who is not responsible to the manufacturer for honoring the manufacturer's express warranty, and who does not issue an express warranty to consumers.
(6) "Express warranty" means a warranty which is given by the manufacturer in writing.
(7) "Incidental costs" means any reasonable expenses incurred by the consumer in connection with the repair of the new motor vehicle, including but not limited to payments to dealers for attempted repairs of nonconformities, towing charges, and the costs of obtaining alternative transportation.
(8) "Informal dispute resolution settlement mechanism" means any procedure established, employed, utilized, or run by a manufacturer for the purpose of resolving disputes with consumers regarding any warranty.
(9) "Lemon law rights period" means the period ending one year after the date of the original delivery of a new motor vehicle to a consumer or the first 12,000 miles of operation after delivery of a new motor vehicle to a consumer, whichever occurs first.
(10) "Manufacturer" means any person engaged in the business of constructing or assembling new motor vehicles or engaged in the business of importing new motor vehicles into the United States for the purpose of selling or distributing new motor vehicles to new motor vehicle dealers.
(11) "New motor vehicle" means any self-propelled vehicle, primarily designed for the transportation of persons or property over the public highways, that was leased or purchased in this state or registered by the original consumer in this state and on which the original motor vehicle title was issued to the lessor or purchaser without having been previously issued to any person other than the selling dealer. If the motor vehicle is a motor home, this article shall apply to the self-propelled vehicle and chassis, but does not include those portions of the vehicle designated, used, or maintained primarily as a mobile dwelling, office, or commercial space. The term "new motor vehicle" does not include motorcycles or trucks with 10,000 pounds or more gross vehicle weight rating. The term "new motor vehicle" shall not include any vehicle on which the title and other transfer documents show a used, rather than new, vehicle. The term "new motor vehicle" includes a demonstrator or lease-purchase, as long as a manufacturer's warranty was issued as a condition of sale, unless specifically excluded under this definition.
(12) "New motor vehicle dealer" means a person who holds a dealer agreement with a manufacturer for the sale of new motor vehicles, who is engaged in the business of purchasing, selling, servicing, exchanging, leasing, distributing, or dealing in new motor vehicles, or who is licensed or otherwise authorized to utilize trademarks or service marks associated with one or more makes of motor vehicles in connection with such sales. For the purposes of subsection (d) of Code Section 10-1-784, concerning private civil actions for violations of this article, the term "new motor vehicle dealer" shall include any person or entity regularly engaged in the business of leasing new motor vehicles to consumers.
(13) "Nonconformity" means a defect, serious safety defect, or condition that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a new motor vehicle to the consumer, but does not include a defect or condition that is the result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modification or alteration of the new motor vehicle.
(14) "Panel" means a new motor vehicle arbitration panel as designated in Code Sections 10-1-786 and 10-1-794.
(15) "Purchase price" means in the case of a sale of a new motor vehicle to a consumer the cash price of the new motor vehicle appearing in the sales agreement, contract, or leasing agreement, including any reasonable allowance for a trade-in vehicle. In determining whether the trade-in allowance was reasonable, the panel may take into account whether the purchase price of the vehicle was at fair market value or not and make appropriate adjustments to ensure that the consumer is made whole but not unjustly enriched. In the case of a consumer lease of a new motor vehicle, "purchase price" means the cash price paid by the lessor to a dealer or distributor to purchase the new motor vehicle.
(16) "Reasonable offset for use" means an amount directly attributable to use by the consumer before the consumer requests repurchase or replacement by the manufacturer pursuant to Code Section 10-1-784. The reasonable offset for use shall be computed by the number of miles that the vehicle traveled before the consumer's request of repurchase or replacement multiplied by the purchase price and divided by 100,000.
(17) "Reasonable number of attempts" under the lemon law rights period means the definition as provided in Code Section 10-1-784.
(18) "Replacement motor vehicle" means a new motor vehicle that is identical or reasonably equivalent to the motor vehicle to be replaced, as the motor vehicle to be replaced existed at the time of purchase or lease.
(19) "Serious safety defect" means a life-threatening malfunction or nonconformity.
(20) "Substantially impair" means to render the new motor vehicle unreliable, or unsafe for ordinary use, or to diminish the resale value of the new motor vehicle more than a meaningful amount below the average resale value for comparable motor vehicles.
(21) "Warranty" means any express written warranty of the manufacturer but shall not include any extended coverage purchased by the consumer as a separate item.
(a) Each new motor vehicle dealer shall provide an owner's manual which shall be published by the manufacturer and include a list of the addresses and phone numbers at which consumers may, at no cost, contact the manufacturer's customer service personnel who are authorized to direct activities regarding repair of the consumer's vehicle.
(b) At the time of purchase, the new motor vehicle dealer shall provide the consumer with a written statement that explains the consumer's rights under this article. The statement shall be written by the administrator and shall contain information regarding the procedures and remedies under this article.
(c) For the purposes of this article, if a new motor vehicle has a nonconformity and the consumer reports the nonconformity during the lemon law rights period to the manufacturer, its agent, or the new motor vehicle dealer who sold the new motor vehicle, the vehicle shall be repaired at the manufacturer's expense to correct the nonconformity regardless of whether such repairs are made after the expiration of the lemon law rights period. If in any subsequent proceeding under this article it is determined that the consumer's repair did not qualify under this article, and the manufacturer was not otherwise obligated to repair the vehicle, the consumer shall be liable to the manufacturer for the costs of the repair.
(d) Upon request from the consumer, the manufacturer or new motor vehicle dealer shall provide a copy of any report or computer reading compiled by the manufacturer's field or zone representative regarding inspection, diagnosis, or test-drive of the consumer's new motor vehicle.
(e) Each time the consumer's vehicle is returned from being diagnosed or repaired under the lemon law rights period or under a warranty, the new motor vehicle dealer shall provide to the consumer a fully itemized, legible statement or repair order indicating any diagnosis made, and all work performed on the vehicle, including but not limited to a general description of the problem reported by the consumer or an identification of the defect or condition, parts and labor, the date and the odometer reading when the vehicle was submitted for repair, and the date when the vehicle was made available to the consumer.
(f) No manufacturer, its agent, or new motor vehicle dealer may refuse to diagnose or repair any nonconformity for the purpose of avoiding liability under this article.
(g) The lemon law rights period and 30 day out-of-service period shall be extended by any time that repair services are not available to the consumer as a direct result of a strike, war, invasion, fire, flood, or other natural disaster.
(a)(1) If the manufacturer, its agent, or the new motor vehicle dealer is unable to repair or correct any nonconformity in a new motor vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, the consumer shall notify the manufacturer by certified mail, return receipt requested, at the address provided by the manufacturer. The manufacturer shall, within seven days after receipt of such notification, notify the consumer of a reasonably accessible repair facility and after delivery of the vehicle to the designated repair facility by the consumer, the manufacturer shall, within 14 days, conform the motor vehicle to the warranty. If the manufacturer is unable to repair or correct any nonconformity of the new motor vehicle, the manufacturer shall, within 30 days of the consumer's written request, by certified mail, return receipt requested, at the option of the consumer, or the lessor in the event of a leased motor vehicle, replace or repurchase the new motor vehicle. If the manufacturer fails to notify the consumer of a reasonably accessible repair facility or perform the repairs within the time periods prescribed in this subsection, the requirement that the manufacturer be given a final attempt to cure the nonconformity does not apply.
(2) If a lessor elects replacement, the contractual obligation, except for those terms of the agreement which identify the vehicle, between the lessor and the consumer shall not be altered. If a lessor elects repurchase, it shall return to the consumer a sum equal to the allowance for any trade-in, and down payment or initial balloon payment, made by the consumer, and all future obligations of the consumer to the lessor shall cease. In the event a lessor elects to require the manufacturer to repurchase a leased vehicle, the consumer will remain liable for all lease obligations arising prior to the date that the lessor elects such replacement, but will have no future obligations under the lease, and will be liable for no penalty for early termination. A lessor must elect either a repurchase or replacement within 30 days of receiving written notice from the consumer that such an election is desired; if the lessor fails to make such an election within the 30 days, the consumer may make the election to repurchase or replace and the lessor shall be bound by the consumer's election.
(3) The replacement motor vehicle shall be identical or reasonably equivalent to the motor vehicle to be replaced. Such replacement shall include payment of all collateral charges which the consumer or lessor will incur a second time which would not have been incurred again except for the replacement, and any and all incidental costs incurred by the consumer or lessor. In the case of a replacement motor vehicle, the reasonable offset for use shall be paid by the consumer to the manufacturer. Compensation for a reasonable offset for use shall be paid by the consumer to the manufacturer in the event that a replacement motor vehicle is elected. In the case of a lease where the consumer either has no option to purchase the motor vehicle at the end of the lease term, or the consumer has an option to purchase the motor vehicle at the end of the lease term but does not exercise the option, the lessor shall refund to the consumer the lesser of (A) the offset for use paid by the consumer to the manufacturer at the time of delivery of the replacement vehicle, or (B) the gain realized by the lessor by reason of the difference, if any, between the anticipated residual value of the original motor vehicle as determined at the inception of the lease and the realized value of the replacement motor vehicle at the end of the lease. If the lessor does not realize any gain from the disposition of the replacement vehicle, there will be no refund due to the consumer from the lessor. The foregoing rules apply only to leases where the consumer performs all of the consumer's obligations under the lease agreement and the lease terminates upon the scheduled expiration of the lease term as set forth in the lease agreement or any mutually agreed upon extension of the lease term. The administrator may provide by rule under Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," for determining the manner of calculating the amount of any further charges or refunds that may apply in the case of leases terminated prematurely either by the voluntary election of the parties, or involuntarily by the lessor in the event of the lessee's default, the loss or destruction of the vehicle, or for any other reason.
(4) When repurchasing the new motor vehicle, the manufacturer shall refund to the consumer all collateral charges and incidental costs. In the event of a repurchase, purchase price refunds shall be made to the consumer and lienholder of record, if any, as his or her interests may appear, less a reasonable offset for use. In the event of a lease, purchase price refunds shall be made to the lessor, less a reasonable offset for use. If it is determined that the lessee is entitled to a refund, the consumer's lease agreement with the lessor shall be terminated upon payment of the refund and no penalty for early termination shall be assessed.
(b) A reasonable number of attempts shall be presumed as a matter of law to have been undertaken by the manufacturer, its agent, or the new motor vehicle dealer to repair or correct any nonconformity of a new motor vehicle, if: (1) a serious safety defect in the braking or steering system has been subject to repair at least once during the lemon law rights period and has not been corrected; (2) during any period of 24 months or less, or during any period in which the vehicle has been driven 24,000 miles or less, whichever occurs first, any other serious safety defect has been subject to repair two or more times, at least one of which is during the lemon law rights period, and the nonconformity continues to exist; (3) during any period of 24 months or less or during any period in which the vehicle has been driven 24,000 miles or less, whichever occurs first, the same nonconformity has been subject to repair, three or more times, at least one of which is during the lemon law rights period, and the nonconformity continues to exist; or (4) during any period of 24 months or less or during any period in which the vehicle has been driven 24,000 miles or less, whichever occurs first, the vehicle is out of service by reason of repair of one or more nonconformities for a cumulative total of 30 calendar days, at least 15 of them during the lemon law rights period. If less than 15 days remain under the lemon law rights period when the new motor vehicle is first brought in for diagnosis or repair, the lemon law rights period as regards the problem to be diagnosed or repaired shall be extended for a period of 90 days.
(c) For purposes of this article, the lemon law rights period regarding nonconformities on all new motor vehicles sold in this state shall be for 12 months following the purchase of the vehicle or for 12,000 miles following the purchase of the vehicle, whichever occurs first.
(d) This article shall not create and shall not give rise to any cause of action against and shall not impose any liability upon any new motor vehicle dealer or distributor except as provided in this Code section. No new motor vehicle dealer or distributor shall be held liable by the manufacturer or by the consumer for any collateral charges, damages, costs, purchase price refunds, or vehicle replacements, and manufacturers and consumers shall not have a cause of action against a new motor vehicle dealer or distributor under this article. A violation of any duty or responsibility imposed upon a new motor vehicle dealer or distributor under this article shall constitute a per se violation of Code Section 10-1-393; provided, however, that enforcement against such violations shall be by public enforcement by the administrator and shall not be enforceable through private enforcement under the provisions of Code Section 10-1-399, except that a knowing violation of Code Section 10-1-785 shall be enforceable through private enforcement under the provisions of Code Section 10-1-399.The provisions of Code Sections 11-2-602 through 11-2-609 shall not apply to the sale of a new motor vehicle if the consumer seeks to use the remedies provided for in this article. A consumer shall be deemed to have used the remedies provided for in this article when he or she completes, signs, and returns forms prescribed by the administrator for the submission of disputes to an informal dispute resolution settlement mechanism or to a panel, whichever occurs first. Such forms shall contain a conspicuous statement clearly advising the consumer of the rights the consumer is waiving by participating in the procedures under this article. A consumer may not use the remedies provided for in this article if the consumer has already sought to use the remedies provided for in Code Sections 11-2-602 through 11-2-609, unless the nonconformity did not exist or was not known at the time of using the remedies provided for in such Code sections. Manufacturers and consumers may not make new motor vehicle dealers or distributors parties to arbitration panel proceedings or any other proceedings under this article. The provisions of this article shall not impair any obligation under any manufacturer-dealer franchise agreement or manufacturer-distributor agreement; provided, however, that any provision of any manufacturer-dealer franchise agreement or manufacturer-distributor agreement which attempts to shift any duty, obligation, responsibility, or liability imposed upon a manufacturer by this article to a new motor vehicle dealer or distributor, either directly or indirectly, shall be void and unenforceable, except for any liability imposed upon a manufacturer by this article which is directly caused by the gross negligence of the dealer in attempting to repair the motor vehicle after such gross negligence has been determined by the hearing officer, as provided in Article 22 of this chapter, the "Georgia Motor Vehicle Franchise Practices Act."
(a) No manufacturer or other transferor shall knowingly resell, either at wholesale or retail, lease, transfer a title, or otherwise transfer, except to sell for scrap, any motor vehicle which has been determined to have a serious safety defect by reason of a determination, adjudication, or settlement decision pursuant to this article or similar statute of any other state, unless the serious safety defect has been corrected; the manufacturer warrants in writing upon the resale, transfer, or lease that the defect has been corrected; and the transferor provides the manufacturer's written warranty under this Code section to the consumer.
(b) After replacement or repurchase pursuant to this article of a motor vehicle with a nonconformity, other than a serious safety defect, which has not been corrected, the manufacturer shall notify the administrator, by certified mail, upon receipt of the manufacturer's motor vehicle. If such nonconformity is corrected, the manufacturer shall notify the administrator in the same manner of such correction. If the two events described in this subsection occur within 30 days of one another, both notices may be combined into the same notice.
(c) Upon the resale, either at wholesale or retail, lease, transfer of title, or other transfer of a motor vehicle with a nonconformity, other than a serious safety defect, which has not been corrected and which was previously returned after a final determination, adjudication, or settlement under this article or under a similar statute of any other state, the manufacturer shall execute and deliver to the transferee before transfer to a consumer an instrument in writing setting forth information identifying the nonconformity in a manner to be specified by the administrator; the transferor shall deliver the instrument to the consumer before transfer.
(d) Upon the resale, either at wholesale or retail, lease, transfer of title, or other transfer of a motor vehicle found to have a nonconformity under this article which has been corrected, the manufacturer shall warrant in writing on forms prescribed by the administrator upon the transfer that the nonconformity has been corrected, and the manufacturer, its agent, the new motor vehicle dealer, or other transferor shall execute and deliver to the transferee before transfer an instrument in writing setting forth information identifying the nonconformity and indicating in a manner to be specified by the administrator that it has been corrected and providing an express manufacturer's warranty on the vehicle regarding the nonconformity for 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
(e) For purposes of this Code section, the term "settlement" includes an agreement entered into between the manufacturer and the consumer that occurs after the dispute has been submitted to an informal dispute resolution settlement mechanism or has been deemed eligible by the administrator for arbitration before a panel.
(a) As provided in Code Section 10-1-794, the administrator may establish a new motor vehicle arbitration panel or panels to settle disputes between consumers and manufacturers as provided in this article. The panels shall not be affiliated with any manufacturer or new motor vehicle dealer and shall have available the services of persons with automotive technical expertise to assist in resolving disputes under this article.
(b) The administrator may adopt rules under Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," for the uniform conduct of arbitrations by panels and by informal dispute resolution settlement mechanisms under this article, which rules may include, but not be limited to, the following:
(1) Procedures regarding presentation of oral and written testimony, witnesses and evidence relevant to the dispute, cross-examination of witnesses, and representation by counsel. The administrator shall provide by rule for oral hearings, when appropriate, in panel or informal dispute resolution settlement mechanism proceedings;
(2) Procedures for production of records and documents requested by a party which the panel finds are reasonably related to the dispute;
(3) Procedures for issuance of subpoenas on behalf of the panel by the administrator, which shall be enforced by the superior courts as in Code Section 10-1-398;
(4) Procedures regarding written affidavits from employees and agents of a dealer, a manufacturer, any party, or from other potential witnesses and the consideration of such affidavits by a panel; and
(5) Records of panel proceedings and hearings shall be open to the public.
(c) A consumer shall exhaust any certified informal dispute resolution settlement procedure under Code Section 10-1-793 and the new motor vehicle arbitration panel remedy before filing any superior court action pursuant to Code Section 10-1-788.
(d) The administrator may adopt rules under Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," to implement this article. Such rules may include uniform standards by which the panel and any informal dispute resolution settlement mechanism under Code Section 10-1-793 shall make determinations under this article, including but not limited to rules which may provide for:
(1) Determining that a nonconformity exists;
(2) Determining that a reasonable number of attempts to repair a nonconformity have been undertaken; or
(3) Determining that a manufacturer has failed to comply with Code Section 10-1-784.
(a) A consumer shall request arbitration under this article by submitting a request in writing to the administrator. Except as otherwise provided in this article, disputes under the lemon law rights period shall be eligible for arbitration. The administrator shall make a reasonable determination of the eligibility of the request for arbitration and may provide necessary information to the consumer regarding the consumer's rights and remedies under this article. The administrator may adopt rules under Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," regarding the eligibility of requests for arbitration. The administrator shall assign a dispute he deems eligible to a panel.
(b) Manufacturers shall submit to arbitration under this article if the consumer's dispute is deemed eligible for arbitration by the administrator and by the panel.
(c) The new motor vehicle arbitration panel may reject for arbitration any dispute that it determines to be frivolous, fraudulent, filed in bad faith, res judicata, or beyond its authority. Any dispute deemed by the panel to be ineligible for arbitration due to insufficient evidence may be reconsidered by the panel upon the submission of other information or documents regarding the dispute that would allegedly qualify for relief under this article. Following a second review, the panel may reject the dispute for arbitration if evidence is still clearly insufficient to qualify the dispute for relief under this article. The administrator may adopt rules under Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," governing rejection of disputes by a panel. A decision to reject any dispute for arbitration shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the consumer and the manufacturer.
(d) An arbitration panel shall award the remedies under Code Section 10-1-784 if it finds a nonconformity and that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to correct the nonconformity. The panel may in its discretion award attorney's fees and technical or expert witness costs to a consumer.
(e) It is an affirmative defense to any claim under this article that: (1) the alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the new motor vehicle to the consumer; or (2) the alleged nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the new motor vehicle.
(f) The panel's decision shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the consumer. The consumer must reject the decision in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the panel within 30 days of receipt of the panel's decision, or he or she shall be deemed to have accepted the panel's decision. The panel shall immediately notify the manufacturer by certified mail, return receipt requested, whether the consumer has accepted, rejected, or has been deemed to have accepted.
(g) Upon receipt of the panel's notice, the manufacturer shall have 40 calendar days to comply with the arbitration panel decision or to file a petition of appeal in superior court. At the time the petition of appeal is filed, the manufacturer shall send, by certified mail, a conformed copy of such petition to the administrator.
(h) If, at the end of the 40 calendar day period, neither compliance with nor a petition to appeal the panel's decision has occurred, the administrator may impose a fine of up to $1,000.00 per day until compliance occurs or until a maximum penalty of double the value of the vehicle or $100,000.00, whichever is less, accrues. If the manufacturer can provide clear and convincing evidence either that any delay or failure was beyond its control, or that any delay was acceptable to the consumer, the fine shall not be imposed. If the manufacturer fails to provide such evidence or fails to pay the fine, the administrator may initiate proceedings against the manufacturer for failure to pay any accrued fine and may initiate proceedings on behalf of the state to require specific performance of an arbitration decision under this article. The administrator shall deposit any fines in the state treasury.
(a) After the manufacturer has received notice of the consumer's acceptance or rejection, the consumer or the manufacturer shall have 40 days to request a trial de novo of the arbitration decision in superior court.
(b) If the manufacturer appeals, the court may require the manufacturer to post security for the consumer's financial loss due to the passage of time for review.
(c) If the manufacturer appeals and the consumer prevails, recovery may include the monetary value of the award, collateral charges, continuing incidental costs, if any, and attorney's fees and costs.
(a) Effective July 1, 1990, a fee of $3.00 shall be collected by the new motor vehicle dealer from the consumer at completion of a sale or a lease of each new motor vehicle. The fee shall be forwarded quarterly to the Office of Planning and Budget for deposit in the new motor vehicle arbitration account created in the state treasury. The first quarterly payments are due and payable on October 1, 1990, and shall be mailed by the dealer not later than October 10; thereafter, all payments are due and payable the first of the month in each quarter and shall be mailed by the dealer not later than the tenth day of such month. Moneys in the account shall be used for the purposes of this article, subject to appropriation. Funds in the new motor vehicle arbitration account shall be transferred to the general treasury at the end of each fiscal year. One dollar of each fee collected shall be retained by the dealer to cover administrative costs.
(b) At the end of each fiscal year, the administrator shall prepare a report listing the annual revenue generated and the expenses incurred in implementing and operating the arbitration program under this chapter. The Office of Planning and Budget shall provide the administrator with the figures regarding revenue generated.
(c) It is the intent of the General Assembly that any consumer who, on or after July 1, 1990, but prior to January 1, 1991, pays or should have paid the fee designated in this Code section shall be entitled to utilize the remedies provided in Code Sections 10-1-786, 10-1-787, and 10-1-788 in addition to any other remedies which exist in law or in equity regarding defective automobiles, notwithstanding the effective dates of this article or the effective dates of any provisions of this article.
A violation of this article, or any failure of any person, including a manufacturer or its agents, to honor any express warranty, automotive or otherwise, issued by that person, regardless of whether or not such warranty was purchased as a separate item by the consumer and regardless of whether or not any dispute under the warranty is deemed eligible for arbitration under this article, shall constitute an unfair and deceptive act or practice and a consumer transaction under Part 2 of Article 15 of this chapter. In determining whether there is an unfair and deceptive act or practice under this Code section, the principles in this article regarding a reasonable number of attempts may serve as guidelines. All public and private remedies provided under Part 2 of Article 15 of this chapter shall be available to enforce this article, subject to the affirmative defenses provided in Code Section 10-1-787, and except as provided in Code Section 10-1-784.
Any agreement entered into by a consumer for the purchase of a new motor vehicle that waives, limits, or disclaims the rights set forth in this article shall be void as contrary to public policy. Said rights shall extend to a subsequent transferee of a new motor vehicle.
Nothing in this article shall limit anyone from pursuing other rights or remedies under any other law, except as otherwise provided in this article.
(a) If a manufacturer has established an informal dispute resolution settlement mechanism in this state and is operating in accordance with rules promulgated by the administrator under this article, and the administrator has certified that the informal dispute resolution settlement procedure complies with and is operating in accordance with such rules, a consumer must submit a dispute under this article to the informal dispute resolution settlement procedure before submitting it to the new motor vehicle arbitration panel. The administrator may adopt rules consistent with this article under Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," regarding the informal dispute resolution settlement mechanisms, including but not limited to the composition, function, training, procedures, and conduct of informal dispute resolution settlement mechanisms and including eligibility requirements and procedures for appeals to a panel. Such rules must be complied with prior to certification.
(b) Informal dispute resolution settlement mechanisms shall take into account the principles contained in this article and in any rules promulgated hereunder and shall take into account all legal and equitable factors germane to a fair and just decision. A decision shall include any remedies appropriate under the circumstances, including repair, replacement, refund, reimbursement for collateral and incidental charges, and compensation for loss of value. For purposes of this Code section, the phrase: "Take into account the principles contained in this article" means to be aware of the provisions of this article, to understand how they might apply to the circumstances of the particular dispute, and to apply them if it is appropriate and fair to both parties to do so.
(c) At any time the administrator has reason to believe that a certified informal dispute resolution settlement mechanism is not acting in conformity with this article or with rules promulgated hereunder, he may initiate proceedings under Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," to revoke the certification of the informal dispute resolution settlement mechanism. An informal dispute resolution settlement mechanism shall keep such records as prescribed by the administrator in rules under this article and shall submit without notice to inspection and copying of these records by the administrator's employees. Expenses of any copying shall be borne by the informal dispute resolution settlement mechanism.
The new motor vehicle arbitration panel or panels shall begin operating on January 2, 1991.The administrator in his discretion may establish and operate the panel or panels under any of the following procedures, provided that disputes filed during the same time period shall not be handled under different procedures: (1) contracting with private or public entities to conduct arbitrations under the procedures and standards in this article, (2) appointing private citizens to serve on a panel or panels, or (3) hiring temporary or permanent employees to serve on the panel or panels. Each new motor vehicle arbitration panel shall consist of three members, none of whom may be directly or indirectly involved in the manufacture, distribution, sale, or service of any motor vehicle or employed by or related to the consumer. All panel members shall have a degree from an American Bar Association Accredited School of Law or shall have at least two years' experience in professional arbitration. Any private citizens appointed by the administrator to serve as panel members shall be reimbursed for expenses as are members of the General Assembly and shall be compensated at an hourly rate as determined by the administrator. Temporary or permanent employees hired to serve on the panels shall be in the unclassified service and may serve on a full or part-time basis at a salary determined by the administrator. All administrative staff hired by the administrator to aid in the administration of this article shall be in the unclassified service and compensated at a salary determined by the administrator.
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.
The Magnuson-Moss Act is a federal law giving consumers considerable rights in dealing with manufacturers and car-dealers of lemon automobiles. This law guarantees a car buyer that certain minimum requirements of warranties must be met, and provides for disclosure of warranties before purchase.
Regarding "lemon cars", this law greatly affects the rights of car buyers. For any product which has a written warranty, if any part of the product, or the product itself is considered defective, the warrantor must permit the buyer the choice of either a refund or replacement of the product.
We have argued successfully to juries that the lemon manufacturers and car-dealers should be given three (3) attempts to fix the defect. Continued attempts to repair beyond the initial three (3) should not be allowed. We call this the "three strikes and you're out" principle.
A consumer may pursue legal action in any court of general jurisdiction in the United States to enforce his rights under the Magnuson-Moss Act. Attorney's fees based on actual time spent will be covered if the consumer prevails.
Due to this particular condition, there is quite a bit of financial pressure on the manufacturer to settle consumer disputes before going to court, as this would keep their expenses down.
UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE [Top]
TARR BABY-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 Section 2-601 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 non-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 of inspecting 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.
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 non-conformity 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 is always assured that any non-conformities he does discover will be remedied.