New Mexico dealer fighting state's used vehicle inspection rule

Publish Date: 
Apr 9, 2014
By Holly J. Wagner

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Despite a stay of enforcement until Aug. 1, New Mexico vehicle dealers are operating under a new regulation that requires stringent inspections of used vehicles and a certification process that many dealers say is unwieldy and burdensome.

The new rule was devised as a consumer protection measure to ensure that dealers are giving customers accurate information about used vehicles sold by the retailers, especially collision and modification histories.

“In the motorcycle business, for the most part we are in the remove-and-replace business, not the repair business. We are not equipped to do body work.”

-- Rick Alcon, Team R&S Powersports

The New Mexico Auto Dealers Association, New Mexico Independent Auto Dealers Association, six auto dealers and one powersports dealer sued Attorney General Gary King in two venues to strike the new regulation, claiming he exceeded his authority in creating it and that it is vague and unworkable. King agreed to delay enforcement of the rule until Aug. 1 to give dealers “necessary time to implement those changes.”

But unless the court decides otherwise, as of April 1 dealers must inspect and document used vehicles for prior collision and other damage, and provide a declaration with each vehicle.

That, said Rick Alcon, dealer principal at Las Lomas-based RSA Enterprises, is asking powersports dealers to meet standards that were set for the auto industry and do not apply to powersports.

RSA, which has three dealerships under the Team R&S Powersports brand and representing the Can-Am, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Polaris, SeaDoo, SkiDoo, Suzuki and Yamaha brands, is the sole powersports plaintiff suing King to get the rule reversed.

“We represented motorcycle dealers during the [rulemaking] hearing process. We tried to bring out the egregious points of this rule. It is all written in terms for cars,” Alcon said. “All the certified training points are to ASE [Automotive Service Excellence] or I-CAR [Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair] standards. Those are not motorcycle standards.”

For example, the rule includes long vehicle inspection checklists that include looking for items like “paint tape edges in the jambs” and “uneven paint thickness.”

“In the motorcycle business, for the most part we are in the remove-and-replace business, not the repair business. We are not equipped to do body work,” Alcon said.

“What this law is putting the onus on us for, we are supposed to disclose that there has been damage in excess of a certain percentage. We don’t have the same way to judge that,” Alcon said. “What is ‘significant’ damage? On a sportbike, if it fell off the kickstand, it would exceed the values that they talked about in these rules” to replace damaged parts and repair scratches, even though the bike had never been in a collision or even out of the showroom.