Georgia Lemon Law

 

Georgia Lemon Law

Official
Code of Georgia Annotated, §§10-1-780 to 792

10-1-780

This article shall be known and may be
cited as the "Motor Vehicle Warranty Rights Act."

10-1-781

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.

10-1-782

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.

10-1-783

(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.

10-1-784

(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 lien holder 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."

10-1-785

(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 ot