Is there a Lemon Law for Used Vehicles in New Mexico?
The short answer is yes. There is a lemon law for used vehicles in New Mexico.
New Mexico law requires a used car dealer to honor the “implied warranty of merchantability,” described in Section 55-2-314. A licensed New Mexico used car dealer cannot limit your rights under that warranty for at least 15 days or 500 miles, whichever is first to occur.
Q: What is the Implied Warranty of Merchantability?
“Implied” means you do not have to bargain or “haggle” to get it. It comes with the contract and is considered to be “implied” by law. “Merchantability” is a way of saying that when you buy a car, you get one that operates and drives, at least on some minimal level. You are not paying for a used car so that it sit in the yard or on the side of the road, with the hood up.
The law in New Mexico says that “Goods to be merchantable must at least, be such as:
(a) pass without objection in the trade under the contract description;
(b) … are of fair average quality within the description;
(c) are fit for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used; and
(f) conform to the promises or affirmations of fact made… .”
The New Mexico Supreme Court had this to say about implied warranties:
“…[T]he ordinary buyer in a normal commercial transaction has a right to expect that the goods . . . will not turn out to be completely worthless. The purchaser cannot be expected to purchase goods offered by a merchant for sale and use and then find the goods are suitable only for the junk pile. On the other hand, a buyer who has purchased goods without obtaining an express warranty as to their quality and condition cannot reasonably expect that those goods will be the finest of all possible goods of that kind. Protection of the buyer under the uniform commercial code lies between these two extremes. If an item is used or is second hand, surely less can be expected in the way of quality than if the item is purchased new.”
What does this mean for me?
If you buy a used vehicle and you drive it off the lot and the car breaks down or has some other defect (a serious problem such as mechanical, electrical, drive train issues) soon after you buy it, you have rights but you must act quickly under the law. You are obligated to notify the dealer of the problem within 30 day and must give them the chance to fix the vehicle. Everything should be put in writing and the dealer should repair any serious problem that shows up in the first 15 days or 500 miles. Counting days and miles is a little more complicated than you might expect-(you get credit for days that the vehicle is inoperable and miles taking the vehicle back and forth for repairs)
What should I do if the dealer won't take my calls or gives me the runaround?
You should contact Humphreys Wallace Humphreys P.C. so that we can review and discuss your situationto discuss your situation. If you decide you want to hire us, we will explain the law to you in terms you understand, offer you clear and specific advice, and give you the guidance you need to best protect yourself. We can arrange for consultations in our Santa Fe, New Mexico office or over the phone, throughout the entire state of New Mexico. We are dedicated to helping ordinary people and we have won awards for serving the needs of low and moderate income consumers.