What to Do if You Think Your Car is a Lemon?

Understanding Your Legal Rights

You save money to purchase a vehicle, only to find it is unreliable. Despite numerous attempts to repair the vehicle under the manufacturer or dealer warranty, your new or used vehicle remains unsafe for you and your family. Not having a vehicle you can trust is especially frustrating. Fortunately, California protects consumers from keeping vehicles with unfixable issues. The California Lemon Law helps consumers get back on the road and holds automakers responsible for vehicles that are defective, and therefore, lemons.

Lemon Law History

Today’s lemon law is the result of the 1970 Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. The act requires all manufacturers to replace faulty products they failed to fix after a “reasonable number” of repair attempts. There is an enhancement for vehicles under California Lemon Law for protection against defective vehicles. The enhancement is called the Tanner Protection Act. It allows the consumer to request a repurchase or replacement and the consumer can elect which remedy to choose from. The act was amended in 2007 to allow members of the Armed Forces who are stationed in or who are residents of California to exercise their rights under the act. It does not matter where the service members bought their vehicle or where it is registered.

Using the term lemon as a metaphor for a defective vehicle is thought to have originated from American-English slang of 1900 to 1910. The metaphor derived from the British English expression “to hand someone a lemon,” which, at the time, meant to pass off a substandard item as a good one.

Ways to qualify your vehicle under California Law Lemon Law

The Presumption

The Tanner Act contains added protection by creating a “presumption” concerning whether or not the repair attempts on the vehicle are reasonable and therefore the car can be treated as a “lemon”. A presumption guideline also helps to identify if your car is a lemon. If the following criteria are met within the first 18,000 miles or 18 months of delivery to the buyer or the lessee, then under California law, the car is presumed to be a lemon:

  • The manufacturer or its agents have made two or more attempts to repair a warranty problem that results in a condition that is likely to cause serious injury or death if the vehicle is driven.
  • The manufacturer or its agents have made four or more attempts to fix the same warranty problem.
  • The vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 days for repair due to a variety of warranty problems. The thirty days is total and not necessarily concurrent.
  • The warranty covers the problems and the problems are not the result of abuse of the vehicle. The problems substantially reduce the vehicle’s use, safety, and value to the consumer.
  • If the warranty or owner’s manual requires the owner to notify the manufacturer of problems, the owner must do so, preferably in writing.

What if your vehicle falls outside of the 18,000 mile or 18-month window?

Lemon law issues occur when you have a substantial impairment to the use, value or safety of the vehicle. Even a “fit and finish” problem can constitute a defect and may qualify your vehicle for treatment as a lemon. So if your car has had problems during the warranty period (and even if your car is now out of warranty), your vehicle will most likely qualify as a lemon. Used cars can also qualify as lemon vehicles. All you need is a minimum of two repair attempts (unless two repair attempts are not possible since the vehicle is destroyed or the manufacturer cannot provide a potential fix for the vehicle.

Understanding Warranties

California lemon laws apply to manufacturer warranties. New cars come with manufacturer warranties that are transferred with ownership to another driver. These types of warranties typically cover a specific time frame and mileage, like three years, 36,000 miles. New vehicles usually come with either a basic (bumper-to-bumper) warranty, and a longer drivetrain warranty.

A drivetrain warranty covers just about everything that makes the vehicle move. This includes the engine, transmission, drive axles, and driveshaft.

Warranty coverage continues to evolve with the growing electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid market. A standard EV or hybrid battery costs an average of $5,000. While not covered under a basic warranty, federal emissions regulations require that the batteries have a warranty of at least eight years or 100,000 miles.

If you purchase a used vehicle that still has part of the manufacturer warranty remaining, or that comes with a dealer warranty—and the problems meet one or more of the criteria listed above—then the lemon law applies to your case.

Beware of Extended Warranties

You may think you that purchasing an extended warranty from a third party is a good idea. Be aware that California lemon laws only protect you from problems under the original manufacturer warranty. Third party extended warranties do not apply to the state’s lemon law. A manufacturer’s own extended warranty or a Certified Pre-owned Vehicle “CPO” extended warranty will most likely qualify to extend the original warranty for lemon law purposes.

In fact, many states regard extended warranties as service contracts and not actual warranties. Warranties only originate from the automaker (the manufacturer)—and in the case of CPO “Certified Pre Owned Vehicles” used cars, the dealership—something else worth noting.

Do your homework before you invest extra money into questionable warranties. Understand that the California lemon laws are in place to protect you from large auto manufacturers who fail to deliver a quality product, and not from substandard third-party warranty issuers.

Lemon Law Associates of California

Taking on car manufacturers and large automakers requires focus and dedication. That’s why at Lemon Law Associates of California, our practice is limited to lemon law cases and auto fraud.

A typical lemon law case takes approximately three to six months. Automakers will attempt to delay the process, but we do everthing we can at Lemon Law Associates to speed things up and get you back on the road in a different vehicle. It is very important that throughout the process, you continue to make your vehicle payments. However, it is not necessary for you to still possess the vehicle in order to make a lemon law claim.

California lemon laws protect consumers from becoming stuck with an unreliable and possibly unsafe vehicle. When a vehicle is simply not fixable despite at least 2 attempts at repair, then it’s time to call (877) 955-3666 or to contact us online.

Our highly experienced legal team understands the complex nature of lemon law cases and we’re not afraid to fight for your rights. You’ve worked too hard and invested your hard-earned money into purchasing a reliable vehicle. When the manufacturer warranty fails to fix the serious issues that have you concerned, call the Lemon Law Associates of California.

Located in San Diego, our firm handles lemon law cases throughout the state. Contact us today to set up a free evaluation of your case with a member of our team.

Differences Between the Jeep Class Action and Your Potential Lemon Law Claim

It’s important to know that you have legal rights when it comes to a defective vehicle. The Song Beverly Act and other laws afford you protections commonly known under the umbrella term “lemon law”. In California, after meeting certain standards, you may be eligible for a refund or exchange of your vehicle. So why might you be subject to a decision you may have never heard about?

Opt Out and Avoid Losing your Lemon Law Rights

Class action lawsuits are one form of litigation that helps millions of claims regarding similar issues from bogging down the court systems. In the case of Fiat Chrysler, they have decided to settle, without admitting wrongdoing, with owners of the 2014-2015 Jeep Cherokee, 2015 Jeep Renegade, 2015 Chrysler 200, and the 2015 Ram ProMaster City that came with the then-new nine-speed automatic transmission.

The case is designed to limit further liability for FCA, wherein they offer just $2,000 or a trade-in value of $4,000 for these vehicles, or an additional six-year, 100,000-mile warranty to each of the vehicle owners, known as the class. They don’t have to worry about future litigation unless people opt out. And they hope that no one does, because at least it’s something. It’s just not a lot, unless you’re the company who is saving tens of millions of dollars or the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys who makes 30 percent of the entire sum distributed to the class.

How You Can Do Better

Yes, you must act on your own, but it’s your own legal rights you’re protecting. If you opt out of the settlement by January 2, 2019, you can pursue a California lemon law claim. Consulting with an experienced litigator about the facts regarding your specific vehicle sets the stage for a stronger case against Fiat Chrysler if you own one of these vehicles. Rather than getting a small guaranteed check, you may be able to get the full compensatory damages the facts of your case merit. Get in touch with a lemon law lawyer today.

Opt Out of Jeep Class Action Settlement

In most cases, lemon law claims revolve around a specific issue with a single vehicle or a small number of SUVs. However, sometimes vehicle defects are so widespread that they result in class action lawsuits. However, California attorneys are arguing that owners should consider opting out of a settlement regarding a Jeep transmission case.

Each of the vehicles used a nine-speed ZF automatic transmission, with the number of gears supposedly helping fuel economy. Instead, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued that the transmission was so rough that it affected driving.

The vehicles affected include the:
2014-2015 Jeep Cherokee
2015 Jeep Renegade
2015 Chrysler 200
2015 Ram ProMaster City

Terms of the Class Action Settlement

The class is comprised of those who bought one of the named vehicles who made at least three transmission-related complaints to a Fiat Chrysler dealership. Owners of any of these vehicles who DO NOT opt out by January 2, 2019 will get:

  1. $2,000 or a trade-in value of up to $4,000 on other Fiat-Chrysler vehicles; and
  2. An extension of the warranty on the class vehicles of up to six years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Why Opt Out in Favor of a Lemon Law Case?

Simply put, the terms of the agreement offer relatively little value for California car owners. As noted in other articles, the consumer protection laws in California and federally offer owners the ability to seek a full refund or purchase if the car is still under warranty. There are specific issues regarding these vehicles due to their age, however, consulting with an experienced lemon law attorney should help establish the facts of your potential case against Fiat Chrysler.

Choosing the Right Lemon Law Attorney

The lemmon Law in California and under Federal law applies to all consumers. In California, the Tanner Protection Act provides the right of replacement as well as reimbursement. So, if your vehicle does cause you issues, you have legal remedies available. One is to consult a lemon law attorney. While many may claim to be one, look for the following before you decide on one:

  1. Experience – there is no direct certification for specific areas of law. Ask any lawyer you consult with about their specific track record with defective vehicles, especially if your car is not subject to a recall or you have faced difficulties with a dealership.
  2. Success – Going beyond actually fighting manufactures to get you a replacement vehicle or refund if you want a different car, you want to know that your legal representation has had actual success with obtaining a remedy so that you actually get the best possible result.
  3. Personal Fit – You’ve already had to deal with several repairs on your vehicle and lost the ability to go where you need to. That can be stressful especially if you’re struggling to get your kids to school or yourself to work. Find a lawyer whose style matches your needs to go with experience for the best possible fit.

Current Recalls

Cars Up For Recall at the End of 2018

This year, like the prior two, has not been good for car makers facing extreme consequences of defects that qualify under lemon law protections. Some of the largest recalls now come from Ford and BMW, while in recent months, Kia and Hyundai have faced scrutiny. Lemon law attorneys are frequently at the forefront of these movements, trying to collect reports to bolster their clients’ claims.

BMW, Ford and Toyota Recalls

BMW and Ford are both facing issue. More than 50,000 diesel BMWs could catch fire. Certain trims of the 2012-2018 Ford Focus can stall in the middle of driving because of a fuel pickup issue.

Toyota has two recalls: one for 807,000 Toyota Priuses that had been subject to a prior recall. Now, there’s the risk that they’ll stall unexpectedly. 2018 Toyota Tundra and Sequoias may not have their airbags inflate. 2019 Tundras and Sequoias along with 2019 Avalons are affected.

Moving Forward

The Takata (an automotive supplier) airbag recalls are just one recent example of automakers needing to comply pre-emptively with lemon law attorneys and their clients prior to actual litigation. There are also ongoing concerns about the Hyundai/Kia family of vehicles that have led to engine fires in the 2011-2014 Kia Sorento, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Santa Fe, and 2010-2015 Kia Soul.

One consumer watchdog is urging a recall to protect consumers and their rights beyond what has already been done by lemon law attorneys. They’ve compiled evidence of more than 200 engine fires.

California Lemon Law Specifics

California leads the country in consumer protection litigation, and its lemon law and the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act are there to help car owners who think that their vehicle was defective.

Song-Beverly Act

The 1970 statute allows for a presumption of a car being considered a lemon if, after 18,000 miles or a year and a half of ownership, even if they were not the first owner:

1) Two repairs have failed to remedy a life-threatening defect;
2) Four repairs have been made on any part covered by the warranty;
3) For 30 days, not necessarily in a row, the car has been unusable by the driver

While the consumer is still responsible for notifying the manufacture, this is often covered by having the repair work done at the dealership.

What Issues Can Arise

The manufacturer can dispute the lemon classification by arguing that the problems are minor or don’t substantially impact the value of your car, truck or SUV. In addition, most manufacturers participate in the Department of Consumer Affairs-certified arbitration program. The arbitrators are not state employees, but they do follow guidelines. You must participate in a hearing before you can pursue legal remedies, although you can also accept the arbitrator’s decision if it seems reasonable.

How Do I Know I Have a Lemon for a Car?

Defective vehicles can be a safety hazard or just make life miserable. However, there are certain requirements before you may have a claim under lemon law. The main criteria are the following:

  1. Must Be Covered By An Express Warranty – It’s important to review the fine print on your warranty. Certain parts, like brake pads and clutches, may not be covered by the manufacturer because they wear down over time.Picture1
  2. May Violate Federal or State Laws – The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act covers basically all vehicles and is the primary statute cited in major lemon law claims. If the warranty coverage seems unfair, a lawyer may be able to help remedy the situation.
  3. Must Have Attempted Repairs – The manufacturer might not be able to repair your car, truck or SUV, but you have to at least let them try to comply with lemon law. By doing so, it may fix the problem, but at least notifies the manufacturer of the issues you’ve been having.

If your situation meets those three criteria, you should be able to receive either a refund or a replacement from the manufacturer, but legal representation could also be necessary if things get difficult with the car maker.

Recall on the 2018 Ford F-Series Pickup Trucks and 2018 Expeditions

There’s a recall on the 2018 Ford F-Series pickup trucks and 2018 Expeditions. Close to 300,000 vehicles of these models sold in the United States are affected by this recall.

Continue reading “Recall on the 2018 Ford F-Series Pickup Trucks and 2018 Expeditions”

Mitsubishi Mirage Recall – Non-Inflating Airbags

Mitsubishi is recalling nearly 84,000 Mirage models from 2014-2018 in the U.S.

A safety restraint computer error is reading road vibrations or a flat tire as a sensor error, thus turning off the vehicle airbags. So if the computer sensor reads the road as vibrating in the midst of a crash, it would shut off all airbags.

Mitsubishi has not released if any crashes or injuries have occurred due to recall.

Mitsubishi dealerships will reprogram the computer to fix the error, but notices are not going out until next month.

As families are traveling for the holidays, their airbags may not function correctly. Don’t wait to be notified!