purposes of this part, the following definitions apply:
"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.
"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.
"Incidental damage" means incidental and consequential
damage as defined in 30-2-715.
"Manufacturer" has the meaning applied to that word in
"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
"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.
"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.
Notice -- warranty enforceable after warranty period
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 consumer.
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.
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
Replacement for nonconformity to warranty.
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
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.
Reasonable number of attempts -- presumption.
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:
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
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.
Dealer exemption -- liability to manufacturer.
Nothing in this part imposes any liability on a dealer or
creates a cause of action by a consumer against a dealer under
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.
The provisions of this part do not limit the rights or remedies
available to a consumer under any other law.
All express warranties arising from the sale of a new motor
vehicle are subject to the provisions of Title 30, chapter 2,
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.
Exhaustion of remedies under federal law.
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
Manufacturer's dispute settlement procedure.
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.
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
delay a decision in any dispute beyond 60 days after the date on
which the consumer initially resorts to the dispute settlement
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 61-4-503;
require the consumer to make the vehicle available for
inspection by a manufacturer's representative more than once;
fail to consider in decisions any remedies provided by this
require the consumer to take any action or assume any obligation
not specifically authorized under the federal regulations
referred to in subsection (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
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.
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.
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.
Composition of arbitration panel.
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.
Implementation of arbitration.
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.
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 filing
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.
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.
The manufacturer's fee provided in subsection (3) is due only if
the department of commerce arbitration procedures are utilized.
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 the dispute.
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.
Action by arbitration panel
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.
The decision shall provide appropriate remedies, including but
not limited to:
repair of the vehicle;
replacement of the vehicle with an identical vehicle or a
comparable vehicle acceptable to the consumer;
refund as provided in 61-4-503(2);
any other remedies available under the applicable warranties or
15 U.S.C. 2301 through 2312, as in effect on October 1, 1983; or
reimbursement of expenses and costs to the prevailing party.
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.
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
Notice on resale of replaced vehicle.
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.
Records of disputes.
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.