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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XIV PUBLIC WAYS AND WORKS
  • CHAPTER 90 MOTOR VEHICLES AND AIRCRAFT
  • Section 7N1/4 Express warranty by dealer of used motor vehicle; issuance; consumer’s rights and remedies

Section 7N1/4. (1) For the purposes of this section the following words shall have the following meanings:—

“Business day”, Monday to Friday, inclusive, except for state or federal holidays.

“Consumer”, a buyer, other than for purposes of resale, of a motor vehicle, any person to whom such motor vehicle is transferred during the period of any express or statutory warranty under this section applicable to such motor vehicle, and any other person entitled by the terms of such warranty to enforce its obligations.

“Dealer”, any person engaged in the business of selling, offering for sale, or negotiating the retail sale of used motor vehicles or selling motor vehicles as broker or agent for another, including the officers, agents and employees of such person and any combination or association of dealers, but not including a bank or other financial institution, or the commonwealth, its agencies, bureaus, boards, commissions, authorities, nor any of its political subdivisions. A person shall be deemed to be engaged in the business of selling used motor vehicles if such person has sold more than three used motor vehicles in the preceding twelve months.

“Motor vehicle” or “vehicle”, any motor vehicle as defined in section one, sold or replaced by a dealer or manufacturer, except that it shall not include auto homes, vehicles built primarily for off-road use or any vehicle used primarily for business purposes.

“Private seller”, any person who is not a dealer and who offers to sell or sells a used motor vehicle to a consumer.

“Purchase price”, the total of all payments made for the purchase of a vehicle, including but not limited to any finance charges, registration fees, payments made for credit life, accident, health, and damage insurance, and collision and related comprehensive insurance coverages and service contracts and the value of a trade-in.

“Repurchase price”, the purchase price, as defined above, less any cash award that was made by the dealer in an attempt to resolve the dispute and was accepted by the consumer, and less any refunds or rebates to which the consumer is entitled, plus any incidental damages not previously reimbursed, including but not limited to the reasonable costs of towing from point of breakdown up to thirty miles to obtain required repairs or to return the vehicle under this section, and the reasonable costs of obtaining alternative transportation during the applicable warranty period after the second day following each such breakdown not to exceed fifteen dollars vehicle rental charges for each day in which the cost of such alternative transportation is reimbursable.

“Used motor vehicle” or “used vehicle”, any vehicle driven more than the limited use necessary in moving or road testing a new vehicle prior to delivery to a consumer, including a demonstrator vehicle, except that it shall not include auto homes, vehicles built primarily for off road use, motorcycles, or any vehicle used primarily for business purposes.

(2) (A) (i) No used motor vehicle shall be sold in the commonwealth by a dealer to a consumer unless accompanied by an express written warranty covering the full cost of both parts and labor necessary to repair any defect that impairs the said used motor vehicle’s safety or use; provided, however, that the consumer may be required to pay no more than one hundred dollars total toward the repair of any covered defect, series of defects or combination of defects during the warranty period. Defects that affect only appearance shall not be deemed to impair safety or use for the purposes of this section. For the purposes of this section, defect shall include defect, malfunction or any combination or defects or malfunctions.

(ii) Defects or malfunctions which involve parts or components that are covered or are warranted under an express warranty issued by the dealer of the used motor vehicle shall be excluded from this section if the following conditions have been met: the manufacturer’s warranty has been duly assigned or transferred to the buyer; is enforceable according to its terms; is not inconsistent with this section; and, the seller has assured that the repair authorized by such manufacturer’s express warranty was made.

The terms of the seller’s warranty shall be tolled for any period of time the used motor vehicle is out of service by reason of repair under the manufacturer’s warranty.

(B) The express warranties required by this section shall be of the following durations:

(i) For a used motor vehicle which, at the time of sale, has been operated less than forty thousand miles, ninety days or three thousand seven hundred and fifty miles, whichever occurs first. Said ninety days or three thousand seven hundred and fifty mile warranty is in addition to any right the consumer may have under section seven N1/2.

(ii) For a used motor vehicle which, at the time of sale, has been operated forty thousand miles or more, but less than eighty thousand miles, sixty days or two thousand five hundred miles, whichever first occur.

(iii) For a used motor vehicle which, at the time of sale, has been operated eighty thousand miles or more, but less than one hundred and twenty-five thousand miles, thirty days or one thousand two hundred and fifty miles, whichever first occur.

(iv) If the used motor vehicle’s true mileage is not known, such warranty period shall be determined by the age of said used motor vehicle in the following manner: a used motor vehicle three years old or less shall have a warranty as provided in clause (i); a used motor vehicle more than three, but less than six years old, shall have a warranty as provided in clause (ii); and a used motor vehicle six years old or more shall have a warranty as provided in clause (iii). A used motor vehicle’s age shall be determined by subtracting its model year from the year in which the warranty holder purchased said used vehicle.

(C) The warranty periods established by this section shall be tolled during any period in which the used motor vehicle is out of service as a result of any repair attempt pursuant to any warranty created by this section. The applicable warranty period shall be extended thirty days from the date of completion of any repair required by this section as to the defect repaired if the warranty would otherwise have expired during such period.

(3) (A) A dealer may repair, within the meaning of this section, either by performing the repair himself or by arranging and making payment for prompt repair by another.

(i) A consumer shall return a vehicle for repair under this section by presenting it to the dealer no later than five business days after the expiration of the applicable warranty period and informing him of the defect. Said return period shall be tolled during any time period in which the consumer has notified the dealer of the defect but cannot reasonably present the vehicle to the dealer; including, but not limited to, the reason that a used motor vehicle is inoperable and the dealer refuses to pay the charge to tow said vehicle. The dealer shall immediately accept return of a vehicle when it is so presented. Said used motor vehicle shall be deemed out of service commencing the day it is so presented, notwithstanding any dealer’s failure to accept its return on said day. During the applicable warranty period and the aforesaid return period, the dealer shall pay the reasonable costs of towing from point of breakdown up to thirty miles to obtain required repairs or to return the vehicle to the dealer.

Upon return of the used motor vehicle to the consumer after repair, the dealer shall provide the consumer with a warranty repair receipt describing (a) the defect complained of, (b) the work performed in an attempt to correct such defect and the identity of the repairer if it is not the dealer, and (c) the parts replaced in performing such work. For the dealer to toll the ten business day period as provided in clause (ii) of this paragraph said dealer shall attach to each such warranty repair receipt copies of such order forms, invoices, receipts or other evidence of a parts order and its receipt to evidence his compliance with this paragraph.

(ii) If the dealer fails to repair the same defect within three attempts, or if the used motor vehicle is out of service for more than a cumulative total of ten business days after the consumer has returned it to the dealer for repair of the same, then the dealer shall accept return of the vehicle from the consumer and refund the full repurchase price, less a reasonable allowance for use. A reasonable allowance for use shall be fifteen cents for each mile the used motor vehicle has been operated between its sale and the dealer’s repurchase.

A consumer shall have the option of retaining the use of any vehicle returned under the provisions of this section until such time as said consumer has been tendered a full refund. The use of any vehicle retained by a consumer after its return to a manufacturer under the provisions of this section, shall, in instances in which a refund is tendered, be reflected in the above-mentioned reasonable allowance for use.

A used motor vehicle shall not be considered out of service for purposes of the ten business-day period described hereinabove for any day in which a part necessary to repair a defect complained of is not in the dealer’s possession; provided, however, that the dealer has ordered the part by reasonable means on the same day on which he knew or should have known that the part was necessary, except that in no event shall a part’s unavailability operate to toll the ten business-day period for more than twenty-one days. The applicable warranty period shall be extended by the number of days a part is unavailable.

(iii) All dealers shall submit to state-certified, used car arbitration, if such arbitration is requested by the consumer, asserting his or her right to a repurchase under this section, within six months from the date of original delivery to such consumer of a used motor vehicle. State-certified, used car arbitration shall be performed by a professional arbitrator or arbitration firm appointed by the secretary of consumer affairs and business regulation and operating in accordance with the regulations promulgated pursuant to this section, and shall result in a written finding of whether the motor vehicle in dispute meets the standards set forth by this section for vehicles that are required to be repurchased. Said finding shall be issued within forty-five days of receipt by said secretary of a request by a consumer for state-certified arbitration under this section. Said secretary shall promulgate rules and regulations governing the proceedings of state-certified, used car arbitration which shall promote their fairness and efficiency. Such rules and regulations shall include, but not be limited to, a requirement of the personal objectivity of each such arbitrator, and the protection of the right of each party to present its case and to be in attendance during any presentation made by the other party.

If a motor vehicle is found by state-certified, used car arbitration to have met the standards set forth by this section for vehicles required to be repurchased, and if the dealer who sold said motor vehicle is found to have failed to provide said refund as required, such dealer shall, within twenty-one days from the issuance of such finding, deliver such refund, including the incidental and other costs set forth in the definition of “repurchase price” or appeal the finding in a district or superior court. No such appeal by a dealer shall be heard unless the petition for such appeal is filed with the clerk of the district or superior court within twenty-one days of issuance of the finding of the state-certified arbitration and is accompanied by a bond in a principal sum equal to the money award made by the state-certified arbitrator plus five hundred dollars for anticipated attorneys’ fees, secured by cash or its equivalent, payable to the consumer.

The liability of the surety of any bond filed pursuant to this section shall be limited to the indemnification of the consumer in the action. Such bond shall not limit or impair any right of recovery otherwise available pursuant to law, nor shall the amount of the bond be relevant in determining the amount of recovery to which the consumer shall be entitled.

Upon an appeal, the court shall vacate the award only if:

(a) the award was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means;

(b) there was evident partiality by an arbitrator or corruption in any of the arbitrators, or misconduct prejudicing the rights of any party; or

(c) the arbitrators exceeded their powers.

In addition to any other rights and remedies, any consumer dissatisfied with any finding of state-certified, used car arbitration shall have the right to file a claim pursuant to chapter ninety-three A.

In addition to any other recovery, any prevailing consumer shall be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

Whoever, within twenty-one days of any finding in favor of the consumer of the state-certified, used car arbitration, fails to appeal such finding and does not deliver a refund shall be punished by a fine of fifty dollars per day until the delivery of such refund. Said fine shall not exceed five hundred dollars for each such violation. The amount of said fine shall begin to accumulate on the twenty-second day following the arbitration decision. If eighty-one days has elapsed from the issuance of a finding in favor of the consumer of the state-certified, used car arbitration, and no appeal has been taken and no award delivered and no fine paid, the attorney general shall initiate proceedings against dealer for failure to pay said fine. The proceedings initiated pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be commenced in superior court department of the trial court.

In addition to the remedies hereinbefore provided, the attorney general may bring an action on behalf of the commonwealth to restrain further violation of this section, to enforce any provision, and for such other relief as may be appropriate.

(iv) At any time within the applicable warranty period and after a consumer has complained of a defect, notwithstanding any objection from the consumer, the dealer shall have the option of repurchasing a used vehicle and refunding the full repurchase price, less a reasonable allowance for use. A reasonable allowance for use shall be fifteen cents for each mile the used motor vehicle had been operated between its sale and the dealer’s repurchase.

(v) If the dealer is required to or elects to repurchase a vehicle under the terms of this section, the consumer and dealer shall cooperate with each other to execute all necessary documents in order to clear the title of any encumbrances on the repurchased vehicle.

(B) It shall be an affirmative defense to any claim under this section that an alleged defect (i) does not impair the vehicle’s use or safety, (ii) is the result of owner negligence, abuse, damage caused by accident, vandalism, or, an attempt to repair the vehicle by a person other than the dealer, the dealer’s designee, or the manufacturer’s representative under clause (ii) of paragraph (A) of subsection (2), (iii) is the result of any attempt by the consumer to modify the vehicle, (iv) was covered or warranted under an express warranty issued by the manufacturer of such used motor vehicle, that such warranty issued by the manufacturer of such used motor vehicle was in effect during the warranty period established by this section, so long as the conditions in said clause (ii) of said paragraph (A) of said subsection (2) are met.

(4) Clear and conspicuous notice of the warranties created by this section, of the rights pertaining thereto, and of the implied warranty of merchantability shall be given to the consumer in writing at the time the consumer purchases a used motor vehicle from the dealer. Failure to provide such notice shall toll the warranty periods under this section until such notice is given.

(5) The secretary of consumer affairs and business regulation shall promulgate rules and regulations to implement the notice provisions of this section. Said rules and regulations shall include the establishment of wording, format, placement, and distribution of all notices specified in this section. In her discretion, and in order to facilitate ease of understanding by consumers, said secretary may consolidate the notices required by this section and any other notices pertaining to the purchase of motor vehicles; provided, however, that such consolidation does not render the notices inconsistent with any of the provisions of this section or any other law. Each notice required by this section shall describe the procedures available to redress violations of this section and shall contain the telephone number of the attorney general’s consumer protection division complaint section and the office of consumer affairs and business regulation.

(6) A dealer’s failure to comply with any of the provisions of this section shall constitute an unfair or deceptive act under the provisions of chapter ninety-three A.

(7) Notwithstanding any provisions of law to the contrary, this section shall not apply to any used motor vehicle sold by a dealer to a consumer for less than seven hundred dollars.

(8) A private seller shall clearly disclose to any prospective buyer, before the sale is completed, all defects the seller knows of which impair the used motor vehicle’s safety or substantially impair its use. Failure to so disclose known defects shall entitle the buyer, within thirty days after the sale, to rescind the sale and be entitled to return of all monies paid to the seller less a reasonable amount for use as defined in clause (iv) of paragraph (A) subsection (3). In any subsequent action by a buyer under this section, if the court finds that the settlement offer was unreasonable in light of the circumstances or that the private seller has otherwise failed to comply with the requirements of this subsection, in addition to damages, it shall award the buyer reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs; if the court finds that the buyer’s action was frivolous or not in good faith, it shall award the seller reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. It shall be an affirmative defense in any such action that an alleged defect does not impair the vehicle’s safety, or substantially impair its use, or that it is the result of the buyer’s negligence, abuse, damage caused by accident, vandalism or attempt to modify the vehicle.

(9) Nothing in this section shall be construed in any way to limit the enforceability of any implied warranties created by law, any rights created by section seven N or seven N1/2, or chapter ninety-three A or any rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, or express warranties given by a dealer in connection with the sale of a used motor vehicle, or any other rights or remedies available to consumers under applicable law.

(10) If a consumer is eligible for relief under the provisions of section seven N1/2, to have repairs effected or other relief provided under the provisions of an express warranty covering such used motor vehicle issued by the manufacturer of such used motor vehicle, said consumer shall make reasonable effort in accordance with the terms and conditions thereof to obtain such relief or repairs before seeking enforcement of rights under this section. If the consumer, notwithstanding his eligibility to do so, is unable to enforce rights under said section seven N1/2 or under such express warranty and the dealer provides such relief or, in accordance with the provisions of this section, repurchases such used motor vehicle, the dealer shall be subrogated to the rights of such consumer against such manufacturer under the provisions of said section seven N1/2, such express warranty and otherwise in accordance with applicable law, and may enforce the same in his name in the superior court or district court department. Such manufacturer shall hold the dealer harmless from and against all damages, liabilities, losses and reasonable expenses of suit, including reasonable attorneys’ fees arising out of or incurred by the dealer by its compliance with the provisions of this section if such manufacturer, having been notified in writing by the dealer that such rights have been asserted by a consumer, fails to resolve the same at its own expense in or within seven business days.

(11) The licensing authorities responsible pursuant to section fifty-nine of chapter one hundred and forty for licensing used motor vehicle dealers shall distribute copies of this section to each dealer licensed at any time a license is granted or renewed.

(12) The provisions of this section shall not apply to the sale of a leased vehicle by a lessor to the lessee of said vehicle, a family member or employee of said lessee or to the sale of a used motor vehicle by an employer to his employee.

(13) Any action brought pursuant to this section shall be commenced within two years of the date of original delivery of the used motor vehicle to the consumer.