CO Statutes 42-10-101 – 42-10-107
As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
“Consumer” means the purchaser, other than for purposes of resale, of a motor vehicle normally used for personal, family, or household purposes, any person to whom such motor vehicle is transferred for the same purposes during the duration of a manufacturer’s express warranty for such motor vehicle, and any other person entitled by the terms of such warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty.
“Motor vehicle” means a self-propelled private passenger vehicle, including pickup trucks and vans, designed primarily for travel on the public highways and used to carry not more than ten persons, which is sold to a consumer in this state; except that the term does not include motor homes as defined in section 42-1-102 (57) or vehicles designed to travel on three or fewer wheels in contact with the ground.
“Warranty” means the written warranty, so labeled, of the manufacturer of a new motor vehicle, including any terms or conditions precedent to the enforcement of obligations under that warranty.
42-10-102; Repairs to Conform Vehicle to Warranty
If a motor vehicle does not conform to a warranty and the consumer reports the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer during the term of such warranty or during a period of one year following the date of the original delivery of the motor vehicle to a consumer, whichever is the earlier date, the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer shall make such repairs as are necessary to conform the vehicle to such warranty, notwithstanding the fact that such repairs are made after the expiration of such term or such one-year period.
42-10-103; Failure to Conform Vehicle to Warranty – Replacement or Return of Vehicle
If the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer is unable to conform the motor vehicle to the warranty by repairing or correcting the defect or condition which substantially impairs the use and market value of such motor vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer shall, at its option, replace the motor vehicle with a comparable motor vehicle or accept return of the motor vehicle from the consumer and refund to the consumer the full purchase price, including the sales tax, license fees, and registration fees and any similar governmental charges, less a reasonable allowance for the consumer’s use of the motor vehicle. Refunds shall be made to the consumer and lienholder, if any, as their interests may appear. A reasonable allowance for use shall be that amount directly attributable to use by the consumer and any previous consumer prior to the consumer’s 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 shall be presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been undertaken to conform a motor vehicle to the warranty if:
The same nonconformity has been subject to repair four or more times by the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer within the warranty term or during a period of one year following the date of the original delivery of the motor vehicle to the consumer, whichever is the earlier date, but such nonconformity continues to exist; or
The motor vehicle is out of service by reason of repair for a cumulative total of thirty or more business days of the repairer during the term specified in subparagraph (I) of this paragraph (a) or during the period specified in said subparagraph (I), whichever is the earlier date.
For the purposes of this subsection (2), the term of a warranty, the one-year period, and the thirty-day period shall be extended by any period of time during which repair services are not available to the consumer because of war, invasion, strike, or fire, flood, or other natural disaster.
In no event shall a presumption under paragraph (a) of this subsection (2) apply against a manufacturer unless the manufacturer has received prior written notification by certified mail from or on behalf of the consumer and has been provided an opportunity to cure the defect alleged. Such defect shall count as one nonconformity subject to repair under subparagraph (I) of paragraph (a) of this subsection (2).
Every authorized motor vehicle dealer shall include a form, containing the manufacturer’s name and business address, with each motor vehicle owner’s manual on which the consumer may give written notification of any defect, as such notification is required by paragraph (c) of this subsection (2), and the form shall clearly and conspicuously disclose that written notification by certified mail of the nonconformity is required, in order for the consumer to obtain remedies under this article.
The court shall award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing side in any action brought to enforce the provisions of this article.
42-10-104; Affirmative Defenses
An alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use and market value of a motor vehicle; or
A nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the motor vehicle by a consumer.
(1) It shall be an affirmative defense to any claim under this article that:
42-10-105; Limitations on Other Rights and Remedies
Nothing in this article shall in any way limit the rights or remedies which are otherwise available to a consumer under any other state law or any federal law. Nothing in this article shall affect the other rights and duties between the consumer and a seller, lessor, or lienholder of a motor vehicle or the rights between any of them. Nothing in this article shall be construed as imposing a liability on any authorized dealer with respect to a manufacturer or creating a cause of action by a manufacturer against its authorized dealer; except that failure by an authorized dealer to properly prepare a motor vehicle for sale, to properly install options on a motor vehicle, or to properly make repairs on a motor vehicle, when such preparation, installation, or repairs would have prevented or cured a nonconformity, shall be actionable by the manufacturer.
42-10-106; Applicability of Federal Procedures
If a manufacturer has established or participates in an informal dispute settlement procedure which substantially complies with the provisions of part 703 of title 16 of the code of federal regulations, as from time to time amended, the provisions of section 42-10-103 (1) concerning refunds or replacement shall not apply to any consumer who has not first resorted to such procedure.
42-10-107; Statute of Limitations
Any action brought to enforce the provisions of this article shall be commenced within six months following the expiration date of any warranty term or within one year following the date of the original delivery of a motor vehicle to a consumer, whichever is the earlier date; except that the statute of limitations shall be tolled during the period the consumer has submitted to arbitration under section 42-10-106.
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.
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 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 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 noncomformities he does discover will be remedied.
What is a noncomformity substantially impairing the value of the vehicle?
A noncomformity may include a number of relatively minor defects whose cumulative total adds up to a substantial impairment. This is the “Shake Faith” Doctrine first stated in the Zabrisikie case. “For a majority of people the purchase of a new car is a major investment, rationalized by the peace of mind that flows from its dependability and safety. Once their faith is shaken, the vehicle loses not only its real value in their eyes, but becomes an instrument whose integrity is substantially impaired and whose operation is fraught with apprehension”.
A substantial noncomformity may include a failure or refusal to repair the goods under the warranty. In Durfee V. Rod Baxter Imports, the Minnesota Court held that the Saab owner that was plagued by a series of of annoying minor defects and stalling, which were never repaired after a number of attempts, could revoke, “if repairs are not successfully undertaken within a reasonable time”, the consumer may elect to revoke.
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.