NMVB - Frequently Asked Questions

Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) that we have received about the New Motor Vehicle Board programs and services. If you have a more specific question that you would like answered,contact us.

Our FAQs are organized into the following categories:

Protest

Q. I am a new motor vehicle dealer and received notice from the manufacturer that it intends to take action that I want to protest. Is a letter protesting the manufacturer's intended action sufficient to preserve my rights?

A. No. A formal protest in the appropriate format should be sent to the Board's offices via regular mail, e-mail, facsimile, or certified mail, return receipt requested within the statutory time period along with proof of service that the manufacturer or distributor was served with a copy of the protest, and a $200.00 filing fee or a request for a fee waiver upon good cause shown.

Q. Since I notified the manufacturer that I do not approve of its intended action, do I still need to file a protest with the Board?

A. Yes. A formal protest in the appropriate format should be sent to the Board's offices via regular mail, e-mail, facsimile, or certified mail, return receipt requested within the statutory time period along with proof of service that the manufacturer or distributor was served with a copy of the protest, and a $200.00 filing fee or a request for a fee waiver upon good cause shown.

Q. How much are the filing fees in a protest?

A. Both the protestant and respondent are each charged a $200.00 filing fee.

Q. I just completed a hearing on the merits of a protest. How long will it take to get a final decision?

A. Once the transcripts are available, the Board will establish a briefing schedule. It generally takes 30 days to receive the transcripts. Post-hearing briefing schedules can last anywhere from 45 to 90 days. After the completion of post-hearing briefing, the Administrative Law Judge has 30 days to draft a proposed decision. The parties are sent via certified mail a copy of the Administrative Law Judge's proposed decision within 10 days after the Board receives it. Within 30 days after receipt of the proposed decision, the Board members meet and deliberate on the proposed decision. The Board can adopt, modify, or reject the proposed decision. Additionally, the Board has the power to remand the matter back to the Judge for additional findings and/or evidence.

Q. How do I request that a matter be dismissed?

A. If you are the Protestant or counsel, a letter or pleading should be filed with the Board requesting that the matter be dismissed with or without prejudice. Once the Board receives the request, an Order of Dismissal will be sent to the parties.

Q. What rights does an interested individual have?

A. In general, an interested individual has the right to notification of all proceedings and the right to present direct testimony. There are no rights to discovery, cross-examination, or to participate in settlement.

Q. The time within which to file a protest has almost expired. Can I obtain an extension within which to file my protest?

A. In Vehicle Code section 3062/3072 protests, a 10-day extension may be granted by the Executive Director or Board upon a showing of good cause if within the statutory time period a request for extension is received by the Board via regular mail, e-mail or facsimile, or sent certified mail, return receipt requested. In Vehicle Code section 3060/3070 protests, there are no extensions of time within which to file a protest.

Q. Can a protest and petition be filed in one pleading?

A. The causes of action plead in a protest are different than those plead in a petition and cannot be combined into one document. However, once the documents are each filed/received with separate filing fees and proofs of service, the matters can be consolidated for purposes of hearing.

Mediation

Q. I bought my new car three days ago and have decided I don't want it. Can I can cancel my contract with the dealer and give them the car back?

A. Probably not. There is no new cooling off period for vehicle sales. Generally speaking, once a consumer signs the contract for a vehicle they are legally bound by it unless financing cannot be secured. Vehicle sales contracts must contain a notice to this effect. The notification is located immediately above the signature line on the contract.

Q. When I negotiated the deal on my new vehicle, I told the salesman I would get my own financing, however, I have been unable to do so and now the dealer says that I must allow them to try.  Is this true?

A. Civil Code section 2982.9 provides that the contract is rescinded when a consumer has expressly notified the sales person of their intention to arrange for their own financing and has been unable to do so.  However, most dealers insist in writing that they be allowed to procure financing if you are unable.

Q. I have subsequently discovered indications that the new vehicle I recently purchased was involved in an accident.  What are my rights?

A. Vehicle Code section 9990 clearly defines the dollar amount of the damage that must be disclosed to the purchaser.  The amount is defined in part as "... damage required repairs having a value, including parts and labor calculated at the repairer's cost, exceeding 3 percent of the manufacturer's suggested retail price of the vehicle or $500 dollars, whichever is greater ... "  This applies to new cars only.  The dealership's license can be suspended or revoked if the dealership is found guilty of fraud or deceit (Veh. Code § 11705(14)).

Q. I purchased a service contract for my vehicle, and now I have decided I don't want it.  What can I do?

A. Civil Code section 1794.41 provides that a consumer is entitled to a full refund if they cancel the service contract within 60 days of receiving the contract for a new vehicle, or 30 days in the case of a used vehicle.  A consumer must provide written notice of their cancellation to the dealership.  The notification should be sent certified mail with return receipt requested.  If a claim has been made against the contract within the above time periods, then the consumer is entitled to a pro-rata refund.  Please note that if the vehicle is being financed, the refund will be sent to the lender, not the consumer.

Q. I bought a new car (1) week ago.  The dealership called me today and informed me that they haven't been able to get the vehicle financed at the terms on the contract.  They told me to come to the dealership and sign a new contract at a higher interest rate or give them the car back.  Can they do that?

A. It depends. Many contracts used by dealers contain a provision whereby the customer and the dealer can agree to rescind the contract if the dealer is unable to get the vehicle financed. The provision usually provides that this rescission right can be exercised by the dealer only if the dealer notifies the customer of the rescission within ten (10) days of the date of the contract. If your sales contract contains this provision, then the dealership can rescind the contract. You are entitled to whatever consideration you put toward the vehicle, such as a cash down payment or a vehicle trade-in. The dealership cannot charge you for the mileage that you put on the vehicle while they were looking for a lender. On the other hand, if you still want the vehicle, then you have to renegotiate the terms of the contract, which might include a higher interest rate or a larger down payment.

Q. The dealer refuses to give me a copy of my warranty work orders.  Am I entitled to a copy?

A. Civil Code section 1793.1(a)(2) provides that the dealership shall give the consumer a copy of the warranty work order or repair invoice after completing the repair.

Q. The dealership refuses to perform warranty work on my vehicle because I did not purchase it there.  What can I do?

A. All franchise agreements (contract between the manufacturer and the dealership) require that a dealership perform the warranty work for the particular line it sells, regardless of whether or not the vehicle was purchased from the dealership.  A franchisor can terminate a dealership's sales agreement for failing to perform warranty work (see Veh. Code § 3061 or § 3071).

Q. The transmission on my new vehicle needed repairs after only 400 miles of driving.  Even though it has only happened once, and the vehicle has been in the shop for less than 30 days, I no longer want the vehicle.  What are my rights?  Can the California Lemon Law help me?

A. In order to gain the rebuttable presumption that you are due a refund or replacement under the Lemon Law, you must have four or more unsuccessful repair attempts on the same material defect or 30 days out of service for repairs; the manufacturer or its agents have made four or more attempts to repair the same warranty problem, or the vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 days (not necessarily all at the same time) while being repaired for any number of warranty problems; the manufacturer of its agents have made two or more attempts to repair a warranty problem that results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven. Since the failure has not occurred the required number of times (four or more), the Lemon Law presumption may not aid you in this situation.  However, you may wish to:  consult with a private attorney to determine whether other legal remedies are available to you; or, file a Mediation Request Form with the New Motor Vehicle Board and attempt to resolve the matter through mediation.

Q. When I purchased my vehicle, it did not have a sticker in the window which indicated its price, accessories, etc.  Are new vehicles required to have a sticker in the window?

A. United States Code section 1232 provides that the manufacturer will affix a sticker ("Monroney sticker") to each new automobile.  Dealerships who remove the sticker may be fined $1,000.  Used vehicles must have a Buyer's Guide sticker affixed to the window pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Part 455.   

Q. I went to a local dealership to purchase a vehicle.  Somehow I ended up leasing the vehicle.  I want to change the contact from a lease to a purchase.  Can I do that?

A. You should try to work the situation out with the dealership.  If that is not successful, you may wish to file a Mediation Request Form with the New Motor Vehicle Board and attempt to resolve the matter through mediation.

Q. I just purchased a brand new vehicle and I have already had a problem that had to be repaired by the dealer. Shouldn't a brand new vehicle be free of any problems?

A. Not necessarily. Because most vehicles are mass-produced and are made up of hundreds of different parts that are manufactured by different companies, it is inevitable that some new vehicles will have problems. This is precisely why manufacturers provide an original manufacturer warranty with new vehicles. Manufacturers provide such a warranty so that if a new vehicle experiences a problem that is a manufacturing defect (not the result of owner neglect or normal wear and tear), the owner will not have to pay for the repair.

Q. I just purchased a new vehicle and the owner's manual lists when I should have various maintenance procedures completed (often called a vehicle maintenance schedule) such as engine oil changes, tire rotation, engine tune-ups, and transmission services. Must I follow the manufacturer maintenance schedule?

A. Yes. If you fail to have the required maintenance completed on your vehicle at the specified time, e.g., oil change every three months or 3,000 miles, you may render the original manufacturer warranty void for any damage caused by your failure to have the required maintenance completed at the required time.

Petitions

Q. How much are the filing fees in a petition?

A. The petitioner and respondent are each charged $200.00. If there are multiple petitioners or respondents, each will be charged a $200.00 filling fee.

Q. I just completed a hearing on the merits of a petition. How long will it take to get a final decision?

A. Once the transcripts are available, the Board will establish a briefing schedule. It generally takes 30 days to receive the transcripts. Post-hearing briefing schedules can last anywhere from 45 to 90 days. After the completion of post-hearing briefing, the Administrative Law Judge has 30 days to draft a proposed decision. The parties are sent via certified mail a copy of the Administrative Law Judge's proposed decision within 10 days after the Board receives it. Within 30 days after receipt of the proposed decision, the Board members meet and deliberate on the proposed decision. The Board can adopt, modify, or reject the proposed decision. Additionally, the Board has the power to remand the matter back to the Judge for additional findings and/or evidence.

Q. How do I request that a matter be dismissed?

A. If you are the petitioner or counsel, a letter or pleading should be filed with the Board requesting that the matter be dismissed with or without prejudice. Once the Board receives the request, an Order of Dismissal will be sent to the parties.

Q. What rights does an interested individual have?

A. In general, an interested individual has the right to notification of all proceedings and the right to present direct testimony. There are no rights to discovery, cross-examination, or to participate in settlement.

Q. Under what circumstances should an amended petition be filed?

A. Any time there is a change of circumstances, an amended petition should be filed. There are no additional filing fees.

Q. Can a protest and petition be filed in one pleading?

A. The causes of action plead in a protest are different than those plead in a petition and cannot be combined into one document. However, once the documents are each filed/received with separate filing fees and proofs of service, the matters can be consolidated for purposes of hearing.

Appeals

Q. I am a new motor vehicle dealer who has received an adverse finding as a result of an Accusation filed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. I disagree with the decision of the DMV Director and would like to file an appeal. What steps should be taken?

A. An appeal should be filed with the Board via regular mail, e-mail, facsimile, or certified mail, return receipt request within the statutory period provided in Vehicle Code section 3052 and Section 566 Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations. Additionally, a copy of the appeal should be served on the DMV with a proof of service accompanying the original appeal and a $200.00 filing fee. (13 CCR §§ 553.40 and 570)

Board Members

Q. Who are the Board members and how are they appointed?

A. The Board members are appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Senate Rules Committee. See the section entitled "About the Board" for more information and a listing of the current Board.

Board Meetings

Q. How do I know when my matter will be before the Board?

A. All individuals with a matter before the Board are sent a copy of the Board meeting agenda via certified mail, return receipt requested, 10 to 20 days prior to the meeting.

Q. Are members of the public permitted to comment on Board agenda items?

A. Yes. Board meetings are conducted pursuant to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act (Gov. Code § 11120 et seq.) and anyone may comment on any agenda item.

Notices/OL124

Q. When should a manufacturer or distributor file an OL124 with the Board?

A. Unless specifically requested, the Board does not require the filing of an OL124.

Q. From the manufacturer or distributor's perspective, when is the market cleared for an off-site sale?

A. The market is cleared after all dealers of the same line-make within the relevant market area (see Veh. Code § 507) have received the required statutory notice in the appropriate format and no protests have been received. Generally, this occurs 21 to 22 days after the dealer(s) has (have) received the statutory notice.

Q. If there are no dealers who intend to protest an off-site sale, does the manufacturer still have to wait 20 days to clear the market?

A. Yes. To avoid waiting the 20-day period, all dealers who could protest the proposed off-site sale could submit protests to the Board and simultaneously dismiss the protests. The dealers could also submit a fee waiver (PDF).

Q. As a manufacturer or distributor, how can I be certain that enough time has lapsed for the market to be cleared in a Vehicle Code section 3062/3072 matter?

A. If the statutory time period to file a protest has lapsed and no protests have been received by the Board, the manufacturer or distributor can issue an OL124 and the dealer can seek the appropriate license from the DMV.

Q. The statutory time period within which to file a Vehicle Code section 3062/3072 protest has lapsed, however, we were just served with a protest. What happens now?

A. The protest would be processed and filed by the Board. A letter is sent to the manufacturer or distributor advising it that a protest has been filed by the Board. The manufacturer or distributor (hereinafter the Respondent) would determine whether to represent itself in-house or to hire outside legal counsel. A Notice of Appearance and payment of the filing fees should be timely received by the Board. Within 15 days of receipt of the protest, the Board staff will conduct a telephonic Pre-Hearing Conference wherein counsel or the parties will address the filing of any preliminary motions. If the protest has been filed untimely, Respondent could file a Motion to Dismiss the Protest as Untimely. The Motion would be resolved prior to addressing the merits of the protest. If the motion is denied, a pre-hearing conference will be scheduled for the parties to establish a discovery schedule, a settlement conference date, and/or a hearing date. If the motion is granted, the matter is submitted to the Board and will be considered at the next Board meeting.

Q. I work for a manufacturer/distributor and would like to know if the Board has received a protest concerning a specific market area. Can I obtain this information?

A. Yes. Representatives of a manufacturer or distributor can contact the Board's legal staff at (916) 445-1888.

General

Q. Can I file a document via facsimile or email?

A. The Board's regulations allow for filing documents via facsimile or e-mail (13 CCR § 595).

Q. When filing a document, how many copies of each document are required?

A. Unless otherwise specified, in a protest or petition, only one is required.

Q. How do I obtain a conformed copy of a document I am filling?

A. A party may obtain proof of the filing of a paper by submitting either an extra copy of the paper or a copy of the first page only, with a self-adressed return envelope, postage prepaid. The copy will be returned to the party with the date of filing indicated (13 CCR § 595).

Q. What fees are required to file a motion in a pending matter before the Board?

A. There are no fees to file a motion (13 CCR § 551.19).

Q. I am a new motor vehicle dealer seeking an attorney specializing in this area of the law, can the Board recommend an attorney?

A. No. The Board staff cannot recommend a specific attorney or law firm. Individuals seeking legal representation can contact the State Bar of California at (866) 442-2529, or their local County Bar Association.

Q. I am an attorney unfamiliar with practicing before the Board and would like to receive copies of prior decisions. How would I obtain prior decisions?

A. These decisions are available on the Board's website under "Final Decisions". If a hard copy is desired the Board compiles all document requests pursuant to the California Public Records Act (Gov. Code section §6250 et seq.). Requests for documents should be phoned in, mailed, faxed, or emailed to the Board specifying the type of documents sought (e.g., all Vehicle Code § 3060 termination decisions), the time frame (e.g., 1989 through 1999), and cost restraints, if any. The Board charges $.10 per page and $24.00 per hour labor for the actual time involved in copying the documents. Requested documents will be forwarded via regular mail upon receipt of payment. As specified in the Board's Public Records Access Guidelines which are available free of charge by a written request to the New Motor Vehicle Board, 1507 21st Street, Suite 330, Sacramento, CA 95811, via electronic means such as email at nmvb@nmvb.ca.gov, or fax at (916) 323-1632, or orally by telephone at (916) 445-1888, or in person by oral or written communication.

Q. How quickly will my document request be processed?

A. Under the Public Records Act, the Board has 10 days to review and respond to a document request. However, most requests are responded to within one to three days.

Q. How do I order a transcript from a hearing before the Board?

A. All litigants are informed at a hearing by the judge that they can purchase transcripts directly from the court reporter. Transcripts from prior hearings can be requested from the Board through the document request procedure mentioned above.

Q. I am a new motor vehicle dealer undergoing a name change, what should be filed with the Board?

A. Nothing. The Board does not require anything when a dealership changes its name.

 

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1507 21st Street, Suite 330
Sacramento, CA 95811
Phone: (916) 445-1888
FAX: (916) 323-1632