Legal Question in Consumer Law in Massachusetts

Acceptable new car mileage

Is there a limit on the number of miles on a ''new'' car's odometer before a dealer can no longer sell the car as new?

Dealer located requested car out-of-state and drove it from CT to MA. Based on mileage estimate from MapQuest vs odometer reading, it appears auto already had approx. 50 miles on odometer. Can this car be sold as new or a demo?

Asked on 9/08/05, 10:05 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Maria Murber Law Offices of Maria Murber, PC
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Re: Acceptable new car mileage

Please see below statute and thereafter reference Mass.Gen.Laws chap 90D, section 7. Basically, for new vehicles, manufactures have to issue the dealer a certificate of franchise where the vehicle originated.

Basically, as to chap. 90D, section 7, until purchased and registered, by an individual (consumer) that is when the new vehicle becomes used. For an example, when I purchased my "new" vehicle, it had 80 miles on it b/c some vehicles need to be transported to the dealer in order to obtain it for sale and/or people try out vehicles prior to purchase; however, the vehicles are still considered new until a person actually purchases it and files title and registration b/c they are actually the first owner. Hope this is helpful to you.

CHAPTER 90D. MOTOR VEHICLE CERTIFICATES OF TITLE

Chapter 90D: Section 6 Certificate of origin

Section 6. When a new vehicle is delivered in the commonwealth by a manufacturer to an agent or a franchised dealer, the manufacturer shall execute and deliver to such agent or franchised dealer a certificate of origin in such form as the registrar shall prescribe; and effective with nineteen hundred and eighty models and all subsequent years such certificate shall be on safety paper as approved by the registrar. The certificate of origin shall contain the manufacturer's vehicle identification number of the motor vehicle, the name of the manufacturer, model year, year of manufacture, number of cylinders, a general description of the body, if any, and the type of model. When a new vehicle is sold in this commonwealth, the manufacturer, his agent or his franchised dealer shall execute and deliver to the purchaser, in case of an absolute sale, assignment of the certificate of origin, or, if other than absolute sale, assignment of the certificate of origin subject to contract, signed or executed by the manufacturer, his agent or dealer, with the names and business or residence addresses of both stated thereon.

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9/08/05, 3:10 pm
Raymond P. Bilodeau Law Office of Raymond P. Bilodeau
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Re: Acceptable new car mileage

An interesting question. I had a case about 12 years ago involving that precise issue, and at the time, there was a definition that required a motor vehicle that had more than (if I remember right) 100 miles on the odometer to be sold as used.

I have just done a check of MA statutes and regulations, and apparently the definition has been changed to avoid a mileage test. A new car is defined merely as one that has not been sold or leased to a consumer.

It is not unusual for cars to be transferred from dealer to dealer to get a buyer the color, make or model wanted, and that car might well be found in upstate Maine or New York.

I assume the dealers and manufacturers got the legislation changed to avoid the problem.

940 CMR (Code of Massachusetts Regulations) 5.02:

(2) It is an unfair or deceptive act or practice for a motor vehicle dealer to advertise any vehicle for sale which is not new unless the advertisement clearly and conspicuously discloses:

(a) The stock number of the vehicle;

(b) That the vehicle is used; and

(c) A designation of the vehicle as a demonstrator, taxicab, police car, leased or daily rental vehicle, if the dealer knows or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should know that the vehicle was previously so used.

"Demonstrator" does not seem to be defined. You may want to call the consumer protection division of the Attorney General to see if they know of any definition.

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9/08/05, 12:34 pm

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