The other day my aunt had asked me about how New Mexico’s lemon law works. As an Albuquerque business lawyer, I figured that this subject would be of interest to many consumers who have purchased a vehicle in this state. Believe it or not there exists a lemon law with regard to both used and new vehicles. The lemon law comes from the Motor Vehicle Quality Assurance Act (NMSA 1978, 57-16A-1 to 57-16A-9).
With regard to newly purchased vehicles the lemon law applies to new and demonstration vehicles sold by New Mexico car dealers. Basically the law applies to force car dealers to repair all defects which have a substantial impact on the market value and of course the use of the car. The time period to which the law applies is the shorter period of either one-year after which the consumer takes possession of the vehicle, or when the manufacturer’s warranty expires. Basically the law will allow a consumer to be eligible for a replacement or repurchase under the law, if during the one-year period the car has been at the dealership for a total of thirty days or more (this is cumulative), or the car has the same problem repaired four or more times.
NMSA 1978, 57-16A-3.1 applies to used vehicles, and applies to vehicles sold by a New Mexico car dealer. Car dealers must include disclosure of the lemon law in the contract for the sale of the vehicle otherwise the purchaser may cancel the contract. The law provides that used vehicles cannot be sold “as is”; any commercial lawyer would recognize the “as is” language as a disclaimer of warranty, but it does not apply in this context. Additionally the law creates a warranty on the vehicle for the time period of whichever occurs first between 500 miles or 15 days. Once the consumer becomes aware of a problem that limits the use of the car, he or she must return the vehicle to the dealer before attempting to have the car repaired. Failure to follow this key point will make the lemon law inapplicable to the dealer; the essence of this is to give the dealer a chance to repair the problem. The car dealer can charge up to $25 for the first two attempts to repair the vehicle. If a dealer refuses to fix a problem that occurs within the short warranty period, then the consumer can cancel the contract, is entitled to get their money back and if a car was traded in, the consumer can get their old car back. Lastly and obviously, the law does not apply when the problem occurs as the result of abuse, off-roading, racing, failure to maintain required fluids or lubricants and other such operator errors. If you have questions about whether the lemon law applies to your situation, contact one of our Albuquerque attorneys.