Vermont's Lemon Law
|Contact Information||Program Overview|
|Forms & Informational Materials||Vermont New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Law|
|Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board|
Lemon Law Brochure ( 158.38KB)
The Board includes gubernatorial appointees of a new car dealer and alternate, one active technician and alternate, and three citizens and one alternate "shall be persons having no direct involvement in the design, manufacture, distribution, sales or service of motor vehicles or their parts" (9 V.S.A. Section 4174). Interested citizens should be available for attendance at daylong hearings held monthly in Montpelier. Compensation is $50 per diem plus expenses (32 V.S.A. §1010).
If interested in being considered for appointment when an opening occurs please complete the on-line application and forward it to the Governor's office as directed within:
Where do I find contact information for the vehicle manufacturer?
Where do I file a claim or obtain additional information?
You should contact the Board at the following address:
Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board
14 Baldwin Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
(802) 828-2943 (phone)
(802) 828-5809 (fax)
Where do I obtain information about car buying and car repair issues in general?
Consumer Assistance Program
146 University Place
Burlington, VT 05405
Definitions of lemon law terminology may be found in Vermont Statutes, Title 9: Commerce and Trade, Chapter 115: New Motor Vehicle Arbitration, 4171. Definitions
A Demand For Arbitration ( 420.13KB) will be docketed for a hearing when it is completed in full, accompanied by the information requested within the Enclosures Checklist ( 241.47KB) and submitted per the Filing Instructions ( 50.53KB). The claim will be returned if applicable enclosures are omitted. Please remember the preparation and presentation of the case is your responsibility.
Minimum Eligibility Requirements
- The vehicle was purchased or leased in Vermont or is registered in Vermont.
- At least the first repair attempt for the claimed defect(s) was covered by the manufacturer's express warranty for a "three-times-out" claim. Additional repair orders may occur after the warranty expires by time or mileage and will be considered towards demonstration of reasonable repair.
- The defect(s)/condition(s) is present as of the date of filing for a "three-times-out" claim.
- All repair orders must be completed within the manufacturer's express warranty for a "30-days-out-of-service" claim. A symptom does not have to be present on the day of filing.
- The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for a truck cannot exceed 12,000 pounds. Refer to the GVWR label on the inside edge of driver's door or obtain in documentation from manufacturer or dealer.
- A business or commercial enterprise may have a maximum of two registered or leased vehicles.
- Vehicles within a government entity are not covered under Vermont's lemon law.
- A vehicle finance account must be current as of the date of the hearing.
- A consumer is precluded from filing through the State of Vermont if the manufacturer's dispute settlement mechanism is elected. This third-party option is usually referenced in the owner's manual.
- A claim must be filed within one year after expiration of the manufacturer's express warranty by time or mileage, whichever occurs first.
NOTE: Program procedures are subject to change.
The Arbitration program, established in 1984, provides consumers with a forum through which to resolve warranty problem(s) with motor vehicles pursuant to Sections 4170-4181 of 9 V.S.A.
A consumer may file a Demand for Arbitration to request a hearing after demonstration of reasonable repair, which is usually three unsuccessful attempts or thirty cumulative calendar days out of service within the manufacturer's express warranty. At least the first repair for a "three-times-out" claim must occur within the express warranty.
The final repair attempt is a legal provision that provides an opportunity for the manufacturer to assess and repair the claimed defect(s) to the consumer's satisfaction prior to hearing. The consumer may withdraw from the arbitration process if the repair is acceptable, but would retain the option to request a hearing if the condition recurs, as long as the vehicle is still within the manufacturer's express warranty.
If the consumer is not satisfied with the vehicle after the final repair attempt and continues to hearing, he/she must convince the Board that the defect(s)/condition(s) substantially impairs the vehicle's use, market value or safety. The consumer may continue to hearing even if the claimed condition appears to be fixed. The Board would then weigh the reason(s) for dissatisfaction.
There are five Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board members and three alternates appointed by the Governor for a three-year term. Each may be appointed for additional three-year terms twice. "One member of the board and one alternate shall be new car dealers in Vermont, one member and one alternate shall be persons active as automobile technicians, and three members and one alternate shall be persons having no direct involvement in the design, manufacture, distribution, sales or service of motor vehicles or their parts."(9 V.S.A. Section 4174)
Hearings are usually held monthly. Demands will not proceed to hearing if they are resolved by settlement, acceptance of the final repair attempt, administrative dismissal or other disposition.
The Board has authority to order:
- a pro-rated refund based on a statutory formula with guidelines for reimbursement of fees, incidental and consequential damages, and purchase and use tax,
- a comparable new replacement vehicle,
- in favor of the manufacturer,
- a dismissal, or
- a continuance.
1. Purpose and Scope
These rules are designed to provide a simple, fair and orderly procedure for hearing and deciding cases brought before the Vermont New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board (“the Board”). It governs all proceedings pursuant to 9 V.S.A. 4170-4181 as amended.
2. Clerk of the Arbitration Board
The New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board‘s administrator shall serve as clerk of the Board (“the Clerk”). Inquiries to and filings with the Board shall be addressed to the Clerk.
3. Manufacturer’s Filing
All motor vehicle manufacturers doing business in Vermont shall file their corporate or eastern zone office address, telephone and facsimile numbers and any other means of contact with the Clerk. A manufacturer shall also file a copy of the procedures, if any, and any descriptive material for its alternate dispute resolution process, including address, phone and facsimile numbers, and any other means of contact.
4. Request for Hearing
A consumer may request an arbitration hearing before the Board in writing on a form prescribed by the Board. The request, accompanied by the required supporting documentation, shall be filed with the Board with a copy to the manufacturer. The consumer shall indicate on the form the relief requested, either a refund or a replacement vehicle.
5. Manufacturer’s Answer
The manufacturer shall file a written response with the Board with a copy to the consumer within five days prior to hearing. The response shall be on the prescribed form and clearly set forth any defenses. Defenses not set forth in a manufacturer’s answer may be deemed waived and may not be considered by the Board.
6. Notice of Hearing
The parties will be notified of the date, time and location of the hearing by mail, facsimile or electronic mail. “Receipt” of the demand for arbitration from the consumer is attained when required supporting documentation has been filed or after request for the information by the Clerk is fulfilled.
Continuances may be granted only for good cause. Requests for continuances must be in writing and be received by the Clerk at least three days prior to the scheduled hearing, except in the most extraordinary circumstances. The Board authorizes the Clerk, in his or her discretion, to grant or deny continuances.
8. Withdrawal of Hearing Request
A consumer may withdraw his or her request for a hearing by written notice to the Clerk for good cause.
By at least three days prior to hearing, each party shall provide all documents and records that are relevant to the issues raised by the demand for arbitration to each other and the Board. The manufacturer shall file copies of any Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs), special service statements or similar documents that apply to the consumer’s claimed defect(s) after receipt of the consumer’s Demand form. Unless otherwise determined by the Board or the Clerk, all written requests to the manufacturer or dealer for documents shall be honored. Objections to the production of documents and records shall be directed to the Clerk. In his or her discretion, the Clerk may either rule on the objection or refer the matter to the Board.
10. Pre-hearing Conferences
A pre-hearing conference may be scheduled by the Board or at the request of the Clerk or any party. The intent of the conference is to resolve preliminary issues and, when appropriate, provide for the exchange of information. Pre-hearing conferences may be held by the Clerk or a person designated by the Chair of the Board. Conferences may be held in person or by an acceptable alternative means, e.g. telephone conference call.
11. Conduct of the Hearing
The Board shall conduct a hearing on issues for decision. A Board member shall administer an oath to all persons testifying. Each party shall have the opportunity to examine all documents or records presented prior to hearing as part of the filing; to produce witnesses and cross-examine witnesses through the Board; to present all relevant evidence prior to hearing; to advance any arguments, either oral or written; and to rebut opposing evidence.
The admission of any relevant evidence of a type commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent people in the conduct of their affairs shall be allowed. The Board may exclude evidence that is irrelevant or unduly repetitious. The Board is not required to employ the Vermont Rules of Evidence.
13. Repair Orders
All repair orders submitted by the consumer shall be presumed to be accurate copies of the originals.
14. Record for Decision
All hearings shall be tape-recorded. The evidence and argument presented at the hearing plus any knowledge gained from any inspection or test drive of the motor vehicle shall constitute the basis for decision.
For purposes of appeal, arrangements for a transcription of oral proceedings shall be made by the Clerk on written request. A party requesting a transcript shall pay the reasonable cost of transcription.
The members of the Board constitute the hearing authority, and a majority of the board constitutes a quorum. Upon considering the evidence and arguments, the Board shall determine whether the consumer is entitled to a refund, a replacement vehicle or no relief. The decision of the Board shall be mailed by certified mail to the consumer and transmitted by facsimile to the manufacturer.
17. Election of Chairperson and Vice Chairperson
Board members will elect a chairperson and vice chairperson annually in January. Chairperson duties include signatory authority for orders and Board expense accounts. The vice chairperson shall exercise these tasks in the absence of the chairperson.
18. Attendance at Hearings
If a party does not appear for a hearing at the time and place scheduled, the Board may permit the party in attendance to present evidence. The Board may render its decision in the case on the basis of the existing evidence.
The notice to consumers required by 9 V.S.A. § 4180 shall be in a form specified by the Board.