The Massachusetts Used Vehicle Warranty Law (UVWL) which covers used or “pre-owned” vehicles purchased from a dealer or private party and provides important buyer rights and remedies including mandatory repairs, refunds, or repurchases.
Under the statute, a dealer is defined as anyone who sells four or more vehicles in a twelve month period. In Massachusetts dealers are prohibited from selling any vehicle “as is” and all dealer sold vehicles are protected by an implied warranty of merchantability that guarantees the vehicle will function with reasonable safety and efficiency for a reasonable period of time.
In addition, the UVWL requires dealers to provide consumers with a written warranty against defects that impair the use or safety of any vehicle that costs at least $700.00 and has fewer than 125,000 miles on the odometer when sold. If a dealer fails to provide a written warranty or the correct warranty, then the warranty does not begin to expire until the dealer provides a complete and accurate warranty.
The length of the dealer warranty under the UVWL depends on the mileage. Used vehicles with less than 40,000 miles must be warranted for 90 days or 3750 miles, whichever comes first; vehicles between 40,000 and 80,000 miles for 60 days or 2500 miles; and between 80,000 and 125,000 miles for 30 days or 1250 miles. The warranty only covers defects that impair the use or safety of the vehicle and does not cover repair attempts made by someone other than the dealer. The warranty is extended by one day for each day the vehicle is out of service for repairs and any repair performed on a covered defect during the warranty period carries its own 30-day warranty.
The warranty gives consumers the right to a refund, including registration fees and other expenses, if the vehicle was either repaired 3 times for the same defect or was out of service for repair or invalid refusal to repair for at least 11 business days, not necessarily all at one time.
The UVWL applies differently to a vehicle purchased from a private party and requires private party sellers to inform buyers about any and all known defects which impair the safety or substantially impair the use of the vehicle. There is no additional implied warranty on private party sales. The law applies to all private party sales regardless of the sales price or mileage. If a buyer discovers a defect that impairs the vehicle’s safety or substantially impairs the use, and can show that the seller knew about the defect but failed to disclose it, the buyer can cancel the sale within 30 days of the purchase and the seller must refund the purchase price. Generally, if a defect is obvious or prevents the vehicle from passing inspection, a buyer would be able to prove that the seller knew about the defect.
More information on the Used Vehicle Warranty Law may be found at the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations website.