Montana State Statutes
Title 61, Chapter 4, Part 5
New Motor Vehicle Warranties -- Remedies
For purposes of this part, the following definitions apply:
(1) "Collateral charge" means all governmental charges, including
but not limited to sales tax, property tax, license and registration fees, and fees in
lieu of tax.
(2) "Consumer" means the purchaser, other than for purposes of
resale, of a motor vehicle that has not been brought into nonconformity as the result of
abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations by the purchaser, any
person to whom the motor vehicle is transferred during the duration of an express
warranty applicable to the motor vehicle, or any other person entitled by the terms of
the warranty to the benefits of its provisions.
(3) "Incidental damage" means incidental and consequential damage as
defined in 30-2-715.
(4) "Manufacturer" has the meaning applied to that word in 61-4-201.
(5) "Motor vehicle" means a vehicle, including the nonresidential
portion of a motor home as defined in 61-1-130, propelled by its own power, designed
primarily to transport persons or property upon the public highways, and sold in this
state. The term does not include a truck with 10,000 pounds or more gross vehicle weight
rating or a motorcycle as defined in 61-1-105. Motor vehicle does not include
components, systems, fixtures, appliances, furnishings, accessories, and features that
are designed, used, and maintained primarily for residential purposes.
(6) "Reasonable allowance for use" is an amount directly
attributable to use of the motor vehicle by the consumer and any previous consumers
prior to the first written notice of the nonconformity to the manufacturer or its agent
and during any subsequent period when the vehicle is not out of service because of
nonconformity. The reasonable allowance for use shall be computed by multiplying the
total contract price of the vehicle by a fraction having as its denominator 100,000 and
having as its numerator the number of miles that the vehicle traveled prior to the
manufacturer's acceptance of its return.
(7) "Warranty period" means the period ending 2 years after the date
of the original delivery to the consumer of a new motor vehicle or during the first
18,000 miles of operation, whichever is earlier.
61-4-502. Notice -- warranty enforceable after warranty period
(1) If a consumer notifies in writing the manufacturer or its agent during the
warranty period that a new motor vehicle does not conform to all applicable express
warranties, the repairs necessary to conform the new motor vehicle to the express
warranties shall be made by or at the expense of the warrantor, regardless of the
expiration of the warranty period after notification of nonconformity is given by the
(2) The warranty period of an express warranty is extended to equal the time
that repair services are not available because of war or invasion or because of strike
or fire, flood, or other natural disaster. The presumption provided herein may not apply
against a manufacturer who has not received prior written notification from or on behalf
of the consumer and has not had an opportunity to cure the alleged defect.
(3) The manufacturer must clearly and conspicuously disclose to the consumer
in the warranty or owner's manual that written notification of a nonconformity is
required before a consumer may be eligible for a refund or replacement of the vehicle.
The manufacturer must include with the warranty or owner's manual the name and address
where the written notification must be sent.
61-4-503. Replacement for nonconformity to warranty.
(1) If after a reasonable number of attempts the manufacturer or its agent or
authorized dealer is unable, during the warranty period, to conform the new motor
vehicle to any applicable express warranty by repairing or correcting any defect or
condition that substantially impairs the use and market value or safety of the motor
vehicle to the consumer, the manufacturer shall replace it with a new motor vehicle of
the same model and style and of equal value, unless for reasons of lack of availability
such replacement is impossible, in which case the manufacturer shall replace it with a
vehicle of comparable market value.
(2) As an alternative to replacement, the manufacturer may accept return of
the new motor vehicle from the consumer upon refund to him of the full purchase price,
plus reasonable collateral charges and incidental damages, less a reasonable allowance
for the consumer's use of the motor vehicle. The refund shall be paid to the consumer
and to a lien holder, if any, in proportion to their interests.
61-4-504. Reasonable number of attempts -- presumption.
A reasonable number of attempts to conform a new motor vehicle to the applicable
express warranties is presumed to have been made for purposes of 61-4-503(1) if:
(1) the same nonconformity has been subject to repair four or more times by
the manufacturer or its agent or authorized dealer during the warranty period but the
nonconformity continues to exist; or
(2) the vehicle is out of service because of nonconformity for a cumulative
total of 30 or more business days during the warranty period after notification of the
manufacturer, agent, or dealer.
61-4-505. Dealer exemption -- liability to manufacturer.
(1) Nothing in this part imposes any liability on a dealer or creates a cause
of action by a consumer against a dealer under 61-4-503.
(2) A dealer is not liable to a manufacturer for any refunds or vehicle
replacements in the absence of evidence indicating that repairs made by the dealer were
carried out in a manner inconsistent with the manufacturer's instructions.
61-4-506. Provisions nonexclusive.
(1) The provisions of this part do not limit the rights or remedies available
to a consumer under any other law.
(2) All express warranties arising from the sale of a new motor vehicle are
subject to the provisions of Title 30, chapter 2, part 3.
(3) It is an affirmative defense to a claim brought under this part that an
alleged nonconformity does not substantially impair the use, market value, or safety of
the vehicle or that the nonconformity is the result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized
modification or alteration of a motor vehicle by the consumer.
61-4-507. Exhaustion of remedies under federal law.
The provisions of 61-4-503 are not applicable against a manufacturer who has
established an informal dispute settlement procedure certified by the department of
commerce to be in substantial compliance with the provisions of Title 16, Code of Federal
Regulations, part 703, as those provisions read on October 1, 1983, unless the consumer
has first resorted to that procedure without satisfaction.
61-4-511. Manufacturer's dispute settlement procedure.
(1) A manufacturer who has established an informal dispute settlement
procedure under the provisions of Title 16, Code of Federal Regulations, part 703 (16
CFR, part 703), as those provisions read on October 1, 1983, shall submit a copy of the
procedure to the department of commerce. The department of commerce shall issue a
certificate of approval to a manufacturer whose procedure complies in all respects with
such federal regulations and subsection (2). The department of commerce shall report to
the department of justice all manufacturer's procedures certified. The department of
commerce may issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of witnesses and the production of
records, documents, or other evidence necessary to it in an investigation related to the
certification of a manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedure.
(2) A manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedure must afford the
consumer or his representative an opportunity to appear and present evidence in Montana
at a location reasonably convenient to the consumer and, further, may not include any
(a) delay a decision in any dispute beyond 60 days after the date on which
the consumer initially resorts to the dispute settlement procedure;
(b) delay performance of remedies awarded in a settlement beyond 10 days
after a decision, except that a manufacturer may have 30 days following the date of
decision to replace a motor vehicle or make refund to the consumer as provided in
(c) require the consumer to make the vehicle available for inspection by a
manufacturer's representative more than once;
(d) fail to consider in decisions any remedies provided by this part; or
(e) require the consumer to take any action or assume any obligation not
specifically authorized under the federal regulations referred to in subsection (1).
61-4-512. Annual audit
(1) A manufacturer establishing an informal dispute resolution procedure shall
file with the department of commerce a copy of the annual audit required under Title 16,
Code of Federal Regulations, part 703 (16 CFR, part 703), as those provisions read on
October 1, 1983, along with any additional information the department of commerce may
require, including the number of refunds and replacements made by the manufacturer
during the period audited.
(2) The department of commerce may, after notice and hearing as provided in
Title 2, chapter 4, suspend or revoke the certification of a manufacturer's informal
dispute resolution procedure upon a finding that the procedure is being used to create
hardship to consumers. The department of commerce shall notify the department of justice
of any revocation or suspension of a certification. The department of justice may
consider the revocation or suspension in licensing manufacturers under Title 61, chapter
4, part 2.
61-4-515. Arbitration procedure.
(1) The department of commerce shall provide an independent forum and
arbitration procedure for the settlement of disputes between consumers and manufacturers
of motor vehicles that do not conform to all applicable warranties under the provisions
of this part. The procedure must conform to Title 27, chapter 5. All arbitration shall
take place in Montana at a place reasonably convenient to the consumer.
(2) Except as provided in 61-4-520, a consumer owning a motor vehicle that
fails to conform to all applicable warranties may bring a grievance before an
arbitration panel only if the manufacturer of the motor vehicle has not established an
informal dispute settlement procedure which has been certified by the department of
commerce under 61-4-511.
61-4-516. Composition of arbitration panel.
An arbitration panel hearing a grievance under this part must consist of three members.
One member must be chosen by the consumer, one member must be chosen by the manufacturer,
and one member must be chosen by mutual agreement of the parties. The department of
commerce may maintain a list of persons willing to serve on panels from which the third
member may be chosen.
61-4-517. Implementation of arbitration.
(1) A consumer may initiate a request for arbitration by filing a notice with
the department of commerce. The consumer shall file, on a form prescribed by the
department of commerce, any information considered relevant to the resolution of the
dispute and shall return the form, along with a $50 filing fee, within 5 days after
receiving it. The complaint form must offer the consumer the choice of presenting any
subsequent testimony orally or in writing, but not both.
(2) The department of commerce shall determine whether the complaint alleges
the violation of any applicable warranty under this part. If the department of commerce
determines that a complaint does not allege a warranty violation, it must refund the
(3) Upon acceptance of a complaint, the department of commerce shall notify
the manufacturer of the filing of a request for arbitration and shall obtain from the
manufacturer, on a form prescribed by the department of commerce, any information
considered relevant to the resolution of the dispute. The manufacturer must return the
form within 15 days of receipt, with a filing fee of $250.
(4) Fees collected under this section shall be deposited in a special revenue
fund for the use of the department of commerce in administering this part.
(5) The manufacturer's fee provided in subsection (3) is due only if the
department of commerce arbitration procedures are utilized.
(1) The department of commerce shall investigate, gather, and organize all
information necessary for a fair and timely decision in each dispute. The department of
commerce may, on behalf of the arbitration panel, issue subpoenas to compel the
attendance of witnesses and the production of documents, papers, and records relevant to
(2) If requested by the panel, the department of commerce may forward a copy
of all written testimony and documentary evidence to an independent technical expert
certified by the national institute of automotive excellence. The expert may review the
material and be available to advise and consult with the panel. The expert may sit as a
nonvoting member of the panel whenever oral testimony is presented. The department of
justice may suggest an expert at the request of the department of commerce.
61-4-519. Action by arbitration panel
(1) The arbitration panel shall, as expeditiously as possible, but not later
than 60 days after the department of commerce has accepted a complaint, render a fair
decision based on the information gathered and disclose its findings and its reasoning
to the parties.
(2) The decision shall provide appropriate remedies, including but not limited
(a) repair of the vehicle;
(b) replacement of the vehicle with an identical vehicle or a comparable
vehicle acceptable to the consumer;
(c) refund as provided in 61-4-503(2);
(d) any other remedies available under the applicable warranties or 15 U.S.C.
2301 through 2312, as in effect on October 1, 1983; or
(e) reimbursement of expenses and costs to the prevailing party.
(3) The decision shall specify a date for performance and completion of all
awarded remedies. The department of commerce shall contact the prevailing party within
10 working days after the date for performance to determine whether performance has
occurred. The parties shall act in good faith in abiding by any decision. In addition,
if the decision is not accepted, the parties shall follow the provisions of Title 27,
chapter 5. If it is determined by the court that the appellant has acted without good
cause in bringing an appeal of an award, the court, in its discretion, may grant to the
respondent his costs and reasonable attorney fees.
61-4-520. Nonconforming procedure.
A consumer injured by the operation of any procedure that does not conform with
procedures established by a manufacturer pursuant to 61-4-511 and the provisions of Title
16, Code of Federal Regulations, part 703, as in effect on October 1, 1983, may appeal any
decision rendered as the result of such a procedure by requesting arbitration de novo of
the dispute by a department of commerce panel. Filing procedures and fees for appeals must
be the same as those required in 61-4-515 through 61-4-517. The findings of the
manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedure are admissible in evidence at the
department of commerce arbitration panel hearing and in any civil action arising out of
any warranty obligation or matter related to the dispute.
61-4-525. Notice on resale of replaced vehicle.
A motor vehicle which is returned to the manufacturer and which requires replacement or
refund may not be sold in the state without a clear and conspicuous written disclosure of
the fact that the vehicle was returned. The department of justice may prescribe by rule
the form and content of the disclosure statement and a procedure by which the disclosure
may be removed upon a determination that the vehicle is no longer defective.
61-4-526. Records of disputes.
The department of commerce shall maintain records of each dispute as it determines,
including an index of disputes by brand name and model. The department of commerce shall,
at intervals of no more than 6 months, compile and maintain statistics indicating the
record of compliance with arbitration decisions and the number of refunds or replacements
awarded. A copy of the statistical summary must be filed with the department of justice
and must be considered by it in determining the issuance of any manufacturer license
required under Title 61, chapter 4, part 2.