Lemon Law - Maine
Lemon Law - "Lemon
law" is that body of state law which defines an automobile
owners rights when the manufacturer is not able to repair the
automobile within the limits specified. In
such cases, the automobile is referred to as a "lemon",
and is subject to the conditions of the state lemon law.
Your Lemon Law:
These pages are created to inform and educate the public about lemon
law and under the lemon law in your state. They are not and
should not be considered legal opinions or advice as to whether you
have rights under lemon law or whether you should pursue "a
lemon law case". If after reading this information,
you believe you qualify, you should seek the advice and counsel of
an attorney specializing in lemon law in your state. Remember
that each state's lemon laws vary.
As used in this chapter, unless the
context indicates otherwise, the following terms have the following
"Consumer" means the purchaser, other than for purposes of
resale, or the lessee, of a motor vehicle, any person to whom the
motor vehicle is transferred during the duration of an express
warranty applicable to the motor vehicle and any other person
entitled by the terms of the warranty to enforce the obligations of
the warranty, except that the term "consumer" shall not
include any governmental entity, or any business or commercial
enterprise which registers three or more motor vehicles.
"Manufacturer" means manufacturer, importer, distributor
or anyone who is named as the warrantor on an express written
warranty on a motor vehicle.
3. Motor Vehicle.
"Motor vehicle" means any motor driven vehicle, designed
for the conveyance of passengers or property on the public highways,
which is sold or leased in this State, except that the term “motor
vehicle” does not include any commercial vehicle with a gross
vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or more.
4. Reasonable allowance for
use. "Reasonable allowance for use" means that amount
obtained by multiplying the total purchase price of the vehicle by a
fraction having as its denominator 100,000 and having as it
numerator the number of miles that the vehicle traveled prior to the
manufacturer’s acceptance of its return.
arbitration. "State-certified arbitration" means the
informal dispute settlement procedure administered by the Department
of the Attorney General which arbitrates consumer complaints dealing
with new motor vehicles that may be so defective as to qualify for
equitable relief under the Maine lemon laws.
1162 Scope; construction.
1. Consumer Rights. Nothing
in this chapter in any way limits the rights or remedies which are
otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.
distributors, agents and dealers. Nothing in this chapter in any way
limits the rights or remedies of franchisees under chapter 204 or
other applicable law.
3. Waivers void. Any
agreement entered into by a consumer which waives, limits or
disclaims the rights set forth in this chapter shall be void as
contrary to public policy.
1163 Rights and duties.
1. Repair of
nonconformities. If a new motor vehicle does not conform to all
express warranties, the manufacturer, its agent or authorized dealer
shall make those repairs necessary to conform the vehicle to the
express warranties if the consumer reports the nonconformity to the
manufacturer, its agent or authorized dealer during the term of the
express warranties, within a period of 2 years following the date of
original delivery of the motor vehicle to a consumer, or during the
first 18,000 miles of operation, whichever is the earlier date. This
obligation exists notwithstanding the fact that the repairs are made
after the expiration of the appropriate time period.
2. Failure to make effective
repair. If the manufacturer or its agents or authorized dealers are
unable to conform the motor vehicle to any applicable express
warranty by repairing or correcting any defect or condition, or
combination of defects or conditions, which substantially impairs
the use, safety or value of the motor vehicle after a reasonable
number of attempts, the manufacturer shall either replace the motor
vehicle with a comparable new motor vehicle or accept return of the
vehicle from the consumer and make a refund to the consumer and lien
holder, if any, as their interests may appear. The consumer may
reject any offered replacement and receive instead a refund. The
refund shall consist of the following items, less a reasonable
allowance for use of the vehicle:
A. The full purchase price
or, if a leased vehicle, the lease payments made to date, including
any paid finance charges on the purchased or leased vehicle;
B. All collateral charges,
including, but not limited to, sales tax, license and registration
fees and similar government charges; and
C. Costs incurred by the
consumer for towing and storage of the vehicle and for procuring
alternative transportation while the vehicle was out of service by
reason of repair.
The provisions of this section
shall not affect the obligations of a consumer under a loan or sales
contract or the secured interest of any secured party. The secured
party shall consent to the replacement of the security interest with
a corresponding security interest on a replacement motor vehicle
which is accepted by the consumer in exchange for the motor vehicle,
if the replacement motor vehicle is comparable in value to the
original motor vehicle. If, for any reason, the security interest in
the new motor vehicle having a defect or condition is not able to be
replaced with a corresponding security interest on a new motor
vehicle accepted by the consumer, the consumer shall accept a
refund. Refunds required under this section shall be made to the
consumer and the secured party, if any, as their interests exist at
the time the refund is to be made. Similarly, refunds to a lessor
and lessee shall be made as their interests exist at the time the
refund is to be made.
3. Reasonable number of
attempts; presumption. There is a presumption that a reasonable
number of attempts have been undertaken to conform a motor vehicle
to the applicable express warranties if:
A. The same nonconformity
has been subject to repair 3 or more times by the manufacturer or
its agents or authorized dealers within the express warranty term,
during the period of 2 years following the date of original delivery
of the motor vehicle to a consumer or during the first 18,000 miles
of operation, whichever is the earlier date, and at least 2 of those
times the same agent or dealer attempted the repair but the
nonconformity continues to exist; or
B. The vehicle is out of
service by reason of repair by the manufacturer, its agents or
authorized dealer, of any defect or condition or combination of
defects for a cumulative total of 15 or more business days during
that warranty term or the appropriate time period, whichever is the
3-A. Final opportunity to
repair. If the manufacturer or his agents have been unable to make
the repairs necessary to conform the vehicle to the express
warranties, the consumer shall notify, in writing, the manufacturer
or the authorized dealer of his desire for a refund or replacement.
For the seven business days following receipt by the dealer or the
manufacturer of this notice, the manufacturer shall have a final
opportunity to correct or repair any nonconformities. This final
repair shall be at a repair facility that is reasonably accessible
to the consumer. This repair effort shall not stay the time period
within which the manufacturer must provide an arbitration hearing
pursuant to 1165.
4. Time limit; extension.
The term of an express warranty, the one-year and two-year periods
following delivery of the 15-day period provided in subsection 3,
paragraph B, shall be extended by any period of time during which
repair services are not available to the consumer because of a war,
invasion, strike or fire, flood or other natural disaster.
5. Dealer liability. Nothing
in this chapter may be construed as imposing any liability on a
dealer or creating a cause of action by a consumer against a dealer
under this section, except regarding any written express warranties
made by the dealer apart from the manufacturer’s own warranties.
6. Disclosure of notice
requirement. No consumer may be required to notify the manufacturer
of a claim under this section, unless the manufacturer has clearly
and conspicuously disclosed to the consumer, in the warranty or
owner’s manual, that written notification of the nonconformity is
required before the consumer may be eligible for a refund or
replacement of the vehicle. The manufacturer shall include with the
warranty or owner’s manual the name and address to which the
consumer shall send the written notification.
6-A. Notification of Dealer.
Consumers may also satisfy a manufacturer’s notice requirement by
notifying in writing the authorized dealer of a claim under this
section. The dealer shall act as the manufacturer’s agent and
immediately communicate to the manufacturer the consumer’s claim.
7. Disclosure at time of
resale. No motor vehicle which is returned to the manufacturer under
subsection 2, may be resold without clear and conspicuous written
disclosure to any subsequent purchaser, whether that purchaser is a
consumer or a dealer, of the following information:
A. That the motor vehicle
was returned to the manufacturer under this chapter;
B. That the motor vehicle
did not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranties; and
C. The ways in which the
motor vehicle did not conform to the manufacturer’s express
1164 Affirmative defense.
It is an affirmative defense to any
claim under this chapter that:
1. Lack of impairment. An
alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use, safety
or value of the motor vehicle; or
2. Abuse. A nonconformity is
the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or
alterations of a motor vehicle by anyone other than the
manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealers since delivery to the
1165 Informal dispute
If a manufacturer has established
an informal dispute settlement procedure which complies in all
respects with the provisions of 16 CFR, Part 703, as from time to
time amended, the provisions of section 1163, subsection 2,
concerning refunds or replacement shall not apply to any consumer
who has not first resorted to that procedure or to state-certified
arbitration. This requirement shall be satisfied 40 days after
notification to the informal dispute settlement procedure of the
dispute or when the procedure’s duties under 16 CFR, Part 703.5(d)
are completed, whichever occurs sooner.
1166 Unfair or deceptive trade
A violation of any of the
provisions of this chapter shall be considered prima facie evidence
of an unfair or deceptive trade practice under Title 5, chapter 10.
1167 Attorney’s fees.
In the case of a consumer’s
successful action to enforce any liability under this chapter, a
court may award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred.
1168 New car leases.
For the purposes of this chapter
only, the following apply to leases of new motor vehicles.
1. Warranties. If express
warranties are regularly furnished to purchasers of substantially
the same kind of motor vehicles:
A. Those warranties shall be
deemed to apply to the leased motor vehicles; and
B. The consumer lessee shall
be deemed to be the first purchaser of the motor vehicle for the
purpose of any warranty provisions limiting warranty benefits to the
2. Lessee’s rights. The
lessee of a motor vehicle has the same rights under this chapter
against the manufacturer and any person making express warranties
that the lessee would have under this chapter if the vehicle had
been purchased by the lessee. The manufacturer and any person making
express warranties have the same duties and obligations under this
chapter with respect to the vehicle that the manufacturer and other
person would have under this chapter if the goods had been sold to
1169 State-certified, new car
1. Neutral new car
arbitration. All manufacturers shall submit to state-certified, new
car arbitration if arbitration is requested by the consumer within 2
years from the date of original delivery to the consumer of a new
motor vehicle or during the first 18,000 miles of operation,
whichever comes first. State-certified arbitration shall be
performed by one or more neutral arbitrators selected by the
Department of the Attorney General operating in accordance with the
rules promulgated pursuant to this chapter. The Attorney General may
contract with an independent entity to provide arbitration or the
Attorney General’s office may appoint neutral arbitrators. Each
party to an arbitration is entitled to one rejection of a proposed
2. Written findings. Each
arbitration shall result in a written finding of whether the motor
vehicle in dispute meets the standards set forth by this chapter for
vehicles that are required to be replaced or refunded. This finding
shall be issued within 45 days of receipt by the Department of the
Attorney General of a properly completed written request by a
consumer for state-certified arbitration under this section. All
findings of fact issuing from a state-certified arbitration shall be
taken as admissible evidence of whether the standards set forth in
this chapter for vehicles required to be refunded or replaced have
been met in any subsequent action brought by either party ensuing
from the matter considered in the arbitration. The finding reporting
date may be extended by 5 days if the arbitrator seeks an
independent evaluation of the motor vehicle.
3. Administered by Attorney
General. The Department of the Attorney General shall promulgate
rules governing the proceedings of state-certified arbitration which
shall promote fairness and efficiency. These rules shall include,
but are not limited to, a requirement of the personal objectivity of
each arbitrator in the results of the dispute that that arbitrator
will hear, and the protection of the right of each party to present
its case and to be in attendance during any presentation made by the
4. Consumer arbitration
relief. If a motor vehicle is found by state-certified arbitration
to have met the standards set forth in section 1163, subsection 2,
for vehicles required to be replaced or refunded, and if the
manufacturer of the motor vehicle is found to have failed to provide
the refund or replacement as required, the manufacturer shall,
within 21 days from the receipt of a finding, deliver the refund or
replacement, including the costs and collateral charges set forth in
section 1163, subsection 2, or appeal the finding in Superior Court.
For good cause, a manufacturer may seek from the Department of the
Attorney General an extension of the time within which it must
deliver to the consumer a replacement vehicle.
5. Appeal of arbitration
decision. No appeal by a manufacturer or consumer of the
arbitrator’s findings may be heard unless the petition for appeal
is filed with the Superior Court of the county in which the sale
occurred, within 21 days of issuance of the finding of the
In the event that any
state-certified arbitration resulting in an award of a refund or
replacement is upheld by the court, recovery by the consumer may
include continuing damages up to the amount of $25 per day for each
day subsequent to the day the motor vehicle was returned to the
manufacturer, pursuant to section 1163, that the vehicle was out of
use as a direct result of any nonconformity, not issuing from owner
negligence, accident, vandalism or any attempt to repair or
substantially modify the vehicle by a person other than the
manufacturer, its agent or authorized dealer, provided that the
manufacturer did not make a comparable vehicle available to the
consumer free of charge.
In addition to any other recovery,
any prevailing consumer shall be awarded reasonable attorney’s
fees and costs. If the court finds that the manufacturer did not
have any reasonable basis for its appeal or that the appeal was
frivolous, the court shall double the amount of the total award to
6. Consumer’s rights if
arbitrator denies relief. The provisions of this chapter shall not
be construed to limit or restrict in any way the rights or remedies
provided to consumers under this chapter or any other state law. In
addition, if any consumer is dissatisfied with any finding of
state-certified arbitration, the consumer shall have the right to
apply to the manufacturer’s informal dispute settlement procedure,
if the consumer has not already done so, or may appeal that finding
to the Superior Court of the county in which the sale occurred
within 21 days of the decision.
7. Disclosure of consumer
lemon law rights. A clear and conspicuous disclosure of the rights
of the consumer under this chapter shall be provided by the
manufacturer to the consumer along with ownership manual materials.
The form and manner of these notices shall be prescribed by rule of
the Department of the Attorney General. The notice disclosures shall
not include window stickers.
8. Manufacturer’s failure
to abide by arbitrator’s decision. The failure of a manufacturer
either to abide by the decision of state-certified arbitration or to
file a timely appeal shall entitle any prevailing consumer who has
brought an action to enforce this chapter to an award of no less
than 2 times the actual award, unless the manufacturer can prove
that the failure was beyond the manufacturer’s control or can show
it was the result of a written agreement with the consumer.
9. Consumer request for
information. Upon request from the consumer, the manufacturer or
dealer shall provide a copy of all repair records for the
consumer’s motor vehicle and all reports relating to that motor
vehicle, including reports by the dealer or manufacturer concerning
inspection, diagnosis or test-drives of that vehicle and any
technical reports, bulletins or notices issued by the manufacturer
regarding the specific make and model of the consumer’s new motor
vehicle as it pertains to any material, feature, component or the
performance of the motor vehicle.
10. Penalties. It shall be
prima facie evidence of an unfair trade practice under Title 5,
chapter 10, for a manufacturer, within 21 days of receipt of any
finding in favor of the consumer in state-certified arbitration, to
fail to appeal the finding and not deliver a refund or replacement
vehicle or not receive from the Department of the Attorney General
an extension of time for delivery of the replacement vehicle.
11. New car arbitration
account. To defray the costs of this program, a $1 arbitration fee
shall be collected by the authorized dealer from the purchaser as
part of the new motor vehicle sale agreement. Pursuant to rules
adopted by the Secretary of State, this fee shall be forwarded
annually by the dealer or its successor to the Secretary of State
and deposited in the General Fund. At the end of each fiscal year,
the Department of the Attorney General shall prepare a report
listing the annual money generated and the expenses incurred in
administering this arbitration program.