This chapter may be cited as the Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty
The General Assembly recognizes that a motor vehicle is a major
consumer purchase, and there is no doubt that a defective motor
vehicle creates a hardship for the consumer. It is the intent of the
General Assembly that a good faith motor vehicle warranty complaint by
a consumer should be resolved by the manufacturer, or its agent,
within a specified period of time. It is further the intent of the
General Assembly to provide the statutory procedures whereby a
consumer may receive a replacement motor vehicle, or a full refund,
for a motor vehicle which cannot be brought into conformity with the
express warranty issued by the manufacturer. However, nothing in this
chapter shall in any way limit the rights or remedies which are
otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following
"Collateral charges" means any sales-related charges including but
not limited to sales tax, license fees, registration fees, title fees,
finance charges and interest, transportation charges, dealer
preparation charges or any other charges for service contracts,
undercoating, rust proofing or installed options, not recoverable from
a third party.
"Comparable motor vehicle" means a 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 with an
offset from this value for a reasonable allowance for its use.
"Consumer" means the purchaser, other than for purposes of resale,
of a motor vehicle used in substantial part for personal, family, or
household purposes, and any person to whom such motor vehicle is
transferred for the same purposes during the duration of any warranty
applicable to such motor vehicle, and any other person entitled by the
terms of such warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty.
"Incidental damages" shall have the same meaning as provided in §
"Lemon law rights period" means the period ending eighteen months
after the date of the original delivery to the consumer of a new motor
vehicle. This shall be the period during which the consumer can report
any nonconformity to the manufacturer and pursue any rights provided
for under this chapter.
"Lien" means a security interest in a motor vehicle.
"Lienholder" means a person, partnership, association, corporation
or entity with a security interest in a motor vehicle pursuant to a
"Manufacturer" means a person, partnership, association,
corporation or entity engaged in the business of manufacturing or
assembling motor vehicles, or of distributing motor vehicles to motor
"Manufacturer's express warranty" means the written warranty, so
labeled, of the manufacturer of a new automobile, including any terms
or conditions precedent to the enforcement of obligations under that
"Motor vehicle" means only passenger cars, pickup or panel trucks,
motorcycles, self-propelled motorized chassis of motor homes and
mopeds as those terms are defined in § 46.2-100 and demonstrators or
lease purchase vehicles with which a warranty was issued.
"Motor vehicle dealer" shall have the same meaning as provided in §
"Nonconformity" means a failure to conform with a warranty, a
defect or a condition, including those that do not affect the
driveability of the vehicle, which significantly impairs the use,
market value, or safety of a motor vehicle.
"Notify" or "notification" means that the manufacturer shall be
deemed to have been notified under this chapter if a written complaint
of the defect or defects has been mailed to it or it has responded to
the consumer in writing regarding a complaint, or a factory
representative has either inspected the vehicle or met with the
consumer or an authorized dealer regarding the nonconformity.
"Reasonable allowance for use" shall not exceed one-half of the
amount allowed per mile by the Internal Revenue Service, as provided
by regulation, revenue procedure, or revenue ruling promulgated
pursuant to § 162 of the Internal Revenue Code, for use of a personal
vehicle for business purposes, plus an amount to account for any loss
to the fair market value of the vehicle resulting from damage beyond
normal wear and tear, unless the damage resulted from nonconformity to
"Serious safety defect" means a life-threatening malfunction or
nonconformity that impedes the consumer's ability to control or
operate the new motor vehicle for ordinary use or reasonable intended
purposes or creates a risk of fire or explosion.
"Significant impairment" means to render the new motor vehicle
unfit, unreliable or unsafe for ordinary use or reasonable intended
"Warranty" means any implied warranty or any written warranty of
the manufacturer, or any affirmations of fact or promise made by the
manufacturer in connection with the sale of a motor vehicle that
become part of the basis of the bargain. The term "warranty" pertains
to the obligations of the manufacturer in relation to materials,
workmanship, and fitness of a motor vehicle for ordinary use or
reasonable intended purposes throughout the duration of the lemon law
rights period as defined under this section.
Conformity to all warranties
If a new motor vehicle does not conform to all warranties, and the
consumer reports the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agents, or
its authorized dealer during the manufacturer's warranty period, the
manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer shall make such
repairs as are necessary to conform the vehicle to such warranties,
notwithstanding the fact that such repairs are made after the
expiration of such manufacturer's warranty period.
Nonconformity of motor vehicles
A. If the manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealers do not
conform the motor vehicle to any applicable warranty by repairing or
correcting any defect or condition, including those that do not affect
the driveability of the vehicle, which significantly impairs the use,
market value, or safety of the motor vehicle to the consumer after a
reasonable number of attempts during the lemon law rights period, the
1. Replace the motor vehicle with a comparable motor vehicle
acceptable to the consumer, or
2. Accept return of the motor vehicle and refund to the consumer
and any lienholder as their interest may appear the full purchase
price, including all collateral charges, incidental damages, less a
reasonable allowance for the consumer's use of the vehicle up to the
date of the first notice of nonconformity that is given to the
manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealer. The consumer shall have
the unconditional right to choose a refund rather than a replacement
vehicle and to drive the motor vehicle until he receives either the
replacement vehicle or the refund. The subtraction of a reasonable
allowance for use shall apply to either a replacement or refund of the
motor vehicle. Mileage, expenses, and reasonable loss of use
necessitated by attempts to conform such motor vehicle to the express
warranty may be recovered by the consumer.
B. It shall be presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have
been undertaken to conform a motor vehicle to any warranty and that
the motor vehicle is significantly impaired if during the period of
eighteen months following the date of original delivery of the motor
vehicle to the consumer either:
1. The same nonconformity has been subject to repair three or more
times by the manufacturer, its agents or its authorized dealers and
the same nonconformity continues to exist;
2. The nonconformity is a serious safety defect and has been
subject to repair one or more times by the manufacturer, its agent or
its authorized dealer and the same nonconformity continues to exist;
3. The motor vehicle is out of service due to repair for a
cumulative total of thirty calendar days, unless such repairs could
not be performed because of conditions beyond the control of the
manufacturer, its agents or authorized dealers, including war,
invasion, strike, fire, flood or other natural disasters.
C. The lemon law rights period shall be extended if the
manufacturer has been notified but the nonconformity has not been
effectively repaired by the manufacturer, or its agent, by the
expiration of the lemon law rights period.
D. The manufacturer shall clearly and conspicuously disclose to the
consumer, in the warranty or owner's manual, that written notification
of the nonconformity to the manufacturer is required before the
consumer may be eligible for refund or replacement of the vehicle
under this chapter. The manufacturer shall include with the warranty
or owner's manual the name and address to which the consumer shall
send such written notification.
E. It shall be the responsibility of the consumer, or his
representative, prior to availing himself of the provisions of this
section, to notify the manufacturer of the need for the correction or
repair of the nonconformity, unless the manufacturer has been notified
as defined in § 59.1-207.11. If the manufacturer or factory
representative has not been notified of the conditions set forth in
subsection B of this section and any of the conditions set forth in
subsection B of this section already exists, the manufacturer shall be
given an additional opportunity, not to exceed fifteen days, to
correct or repair the nonconformity. If notification shall be mailed
to an authorized dealer, the authorized dealer shall upon receipt
forward such notification to the manufacturer.
F. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit or impair
the rights and remedies of a consumer under any other law.
G. It is an affirmative defense to any claim under this chapter
1. An alleged nonconformity does not significantly impair the use,
market value, or safety of the motor vehicle; or
2. A nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized
modification or alteration of a motor vehicle by a consumer.
Action to enforce provisions of chapter
Any consumer who suffers loss by reason of a violation of any
provision of this chapter may bring a civil action to enforce such
provision. Any consumer who is successful in such an action or any
defendant in any frivolous action brought by a consumer shall recover
reasonable attorney's fees, expert witness fees and court costs
incurred by bringing such actions.
Informal dispute settlement procedure
A. If a manufacturer provides an informal dispute settlement
procedure, it shall be the consumer's choice whether or not to use it
prior to availing himself of his rights under this chapter.
B. If a dispute settlement procedure is resorted to by the consumer
and the decision is for a refund or a comparable motor vehicle, the
manufacturer shall have forty days from its receipt of the consumer's
acceptance of the decision or from the date of a court order to comply
with the terms of the decision.
C. In any action brought because of the manufacturer's failure to
comply with the decision, within the scope of the procedure's
authority, rendered as a result of a dispute resolution proceeding or
a court order, the court may triple the value of the award stipulated
in the decision as provided for in this chapter, plus award other
equitable relief the court deems appropriate, including additional
Action to be brought within certain time
Any action brought under this chapter shall be commenced within the
lemon law rights period following the date of original delivery of the
motor vehicle to the consumer; however, any consumer whose good faith
attempts to settle the dispute have not resulted in the satisfactory
correction or repair of the nonconformity, replacement of the motor
vehicle or refund to the consumer of the amount described in
subdivision 2 of subsection A of § 59.1-207.13, shall have twelve
months from the date of the final action taken by the manufacturer in
its dispute settlement procedure or within the lemon law rights
period, whichever is longer, to file an action in the proper court,
provided the consumer has rejected the manufacturer's final action.