“Montana’s New Motor Vehicle Warranty Act helps consumers who have bought a new vehicle that qualifies as a “lemon.” When repeated attempts at repair have been unsuccessful, the law may require the manufacturer to replace or repair the defective vehicle.”
The Lemon Law covers:
- vehicles purchased, titled or leased in Montana, provided they are less than two years old and have 18,000 miles or less on the odometer. This includes motorcycles.
- substantial defects that impair the use, market value or safety of the vehicle
The Lemon Law does not cover:
- vehicles purchased for business use
- trucks over 10,000 lbs. GVW
- non-motorized and off-road vehicles
- the “residential” portion of motor homes
- defects resulting from accident, abuse, neglect, modification or alteration by anyone other than the manufacturer or authorized dealer
Keep all records of warranty repairs and all written communications with dealers and manufacturers. Work orders provide the best proof as to when a problem was first reported.
To prove that a vehicle is a lemon, be prepared to produce:
- all purchase (or lease) documents
- all maintenance records
- all repair orders
- receipt for maintenance supplies
- certified letter of notification to the manufacturer (copy)
- any and all other documents relating to the defect
- Notify the manufacturer. If the problem is a substantial defect or condition that recurs or still exists after the third repair attempt, notify the manufacturer by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the need to repair the defect or condition on the fourth attempt. This notification procedure is not required under the Lemon Law, but does serve as notice to the manufacturer of your intentions.
- If the manufacturer fails to correct any substantial defect or condition following your written notification, the manufacturer must either refund the full purchase price – plus any reasonable expenses directly incurred because of the vehicle’s condition – or provide an identical or reasonably similar replacement vehicle. If the vehicle is bought back, the manufacturer can deduct an amount for the use of the vehicle calculated based on the odometer reading at the time of repurchase.
- If you think you are entitled to a refund or replacement and the manufacturer is unwilling to provide either remedy, you must first submit your dispute to a state-certified dispute settlement program approved by the Montana Department of Justice. Contact the Office of Consumer Protection for further assistance.
Organizations Providing Vehicle-Related Consumer Services
The following includes government, association and commercial sites that provide a wide range of information for consumers on buying, insuring and maintaining vehicles. Also, the Motor Vehicle Division site provides additional information to inform and educate in the buying of a new or used vehicle in Montana.
- ALLDATA – A fee service that provides contact information for parts and services for “vehicle enthusiasts.”
- CARFAX – Consumers can purchase a copy of their vehicle history so they can determine the number of previous owners, crashes and whether a vehicle has been salvaged, leased or repurchased under a state lemon law.
- ConsumerAuto – Offers free advice on how to locate, inspect, test drive, purchase and finance a vehicle.
- Edmunds Tips & Advice – Offers free tips on purchasing new or used vehicles, vehicle insurance, financing, maintenance, etc.
- Federal Citizen Information Center – Lists a number of free or low-cost publications on buying, leasing and renting vehicles, maintaining your vehicle, safety, etc., that can be read online or ordered.
- Federal Trade Commission – Automobiles – Offers free advice on purchasing, leasing and renting vehicles, comparing fuel mileage and conserving fuel. The FTC also offers videos with important tips for each stage of the car-buying process. These mobile-friendly videos cover: Spotting Deceptive Car Ads, Financing a Car, and Understanding Car Add-ons.
- National Automobile Dealers Association Guides – Information for new and used car buyers, including buyers’ guides and price quotes by region.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Free information on vehicle recalls, safety investigations and consumer safety issues.