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