If a new draft regulation is adopted, private car buyers in China will be eligible for free repairs, replacement and even return of faulty cars in the first two years or 40,000 kilometers of ownership.
Now in the process of soliciting public opinion, the regulation from the General Administration of Quality Supervision was released last week. A public hearing is scheduled in late October.
The draft proposes that carmakers be required to provide warranties of at least two years or 40,000 km for the vehicle and three years or 60,000 km on the powertrain and steering system.
If quality problems are discovered within the warranty period, consumers could require free repair work, and if the maintenance takes more than five days, they would be offered a replacement vehicle or compensation to cover travel expenses, the draft said.
It also states that consumers have the right to return the vehicle within 30 days if there are serious quality problems such as severe cracking in the car body, non-functioning brakes or steering and oil leaks.
If serious safety problems are not solved within the warranty period after two repairs, consumers have the right to return the vehicle or demand a replacement, the draft regulation says.
They are also eligible for a replacement if repair work takes longer than 35 days or the car is in the shop five times for the same quality problem.
Under the current system, customers in practice can never demand a replacement or return a car once they buy it. Market observers said that if the new regulation is implemented, it will provide the legal basis for buyers to defend their rights.
Yet they call for more detail in the law to avoid possible disputes.
China now has more than 100 million cars on the road, and in each of the first eight months of this year on average about 1.2 million more cars hit the streets, according to the traffic management bureau at the Ministry of Public Security.
Along with the rapid growth numbers, complaints about auto quality and services are also rapidly increasing. Last year, the China Consumers' Association received 20,405 vehiclerelated complaints, more than half of them on quality problems. Improved legislation is widely expected to better protect consumer rights.
Last year, the government released the draft of new regulation on auto recalls, raising the maximum fine for carmakers that cover up problems to avoid recalls to 50 percent of the total value of affected products - up greatly from the current levy of just 30,000 yuan.
The regulation is still under discussion, but is expected to be issued this year.