61-4-501. Definitions. For purposes of this part, the following
(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
History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 144, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 744,
L. 1985; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 300, L. 1991.
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 consumer.
(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.
History: (1)En. Sec. 2, Ch. 144, L. 1983; (2)En. Sec. 5, Ch.
144, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 744, L. 1985.
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 lienholder, if any, in proportion to
History: En. Sec. 3, Ch. 144, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 744,
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
(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.
History: En. Sec. 4, Ch. 144, L. 1983.
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
(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.
History: En. Sec. 8, Ch. 144, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 744,
61-4-506. Provisions nonexclusive -- applicability of U.C.C.
(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,
(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.
History: En. Sec. 6, Ch. 144, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 744,
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.
History: En. Sec. 7, Ch. 144, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 6, Ch. 744, L.
(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 practices that:
(a) delay a decision in any dispute beyond 60 days after
the date on which the consumer initially resorts to the dispute
(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).
History: En. Sec. 7, Ch. 744, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 13, Ch. 503,
61-4-512. Annual audit -- revocation or suspension of certification.
(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.
History: En. Sec. 8, Ch. 744, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 13, Ch. 503,
61-4-513 and 61-4-514 reserved.
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
History: En. Sec. 10, Ch. 744, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 23, Ch. 744,
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.
History: En. Sec. 11, Ch. 744, L. 1985.
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
(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 filing fee.
(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
History: En. Sec. 12, Ch. 744, L. 1985.
61-4-518. Arbitration -- role of department of commerce --
(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 the dispute.
(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.
History: En. Sec. 13, Ch. 744, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 13, Ch. 503,
61-4-519. Action by arbitration panel -- decision.
(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 to:
(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;
(e) reimbursement of expenses and costs to the prevailing
(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 -- arbitration de novo.
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.
History: En. Sec. 16, Ch. 744, L. 1985.
61-4-521 through 61-4-524 reserved.
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.
History: En. Sec. 9, Ch. 744, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 13, Ch. 503,
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,
History: En. Sec. 15, Ch. 744, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 13, Ch. 503,
61-4-527 through 61-4-530 reserved.
61-4-531. Nondelegable. The liabilities and obligations
contained in this part may not be delegated or assigned to or assumed
by any other person or entity.
61-4-532. Rulemaking. The department of commerce may adopt
rules to implement the provisions of this part.
History: En. Sec. 18, Ch. 744, L. 1985.
61-4-533. Penalty. A violation of any provision of this
part is an unfair or deceptive trade practice under Title 30, chapter
14, part 2, and the penalties provided in 30-14-224(1) apply.