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The Ledbetter Law Firm, APC

Los Angeles, California, Lemon Law Blog

Understanding the California lemon law

Dealing with car repairs is part of life. However, when a consumer purchases a new vehicle or a vehicle that is still covered by a manufacturer's warranty, it is often with the hope that the car will not need repairs, at least in the beginning. Having to make multiple trips to a mechanic can quickly become discouraging, and many turn to California's lemon law to understand their options.

The lemon law, also called the Tanner Consumer Protection Act, protects car owners from vehicles that have irreparable defects that affect the safety, value or use of the vehicle. When a car owner experiences the same malfunction numerous times within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, or the vehicle has a series of issues in that time, the law considers that car a lemon. Nevertheless, the owner must take the appropriate steps when seeking satisfaction through the lemon law.

More defective vehicles catching fire

Recently, the media seems to be reporting more incidents of automobiles catching fire. Many of these vehicles are manufactured by Kia and Hyundai, but numerous other carmakers have dealt with similar issues when customers complain that their vehicles spontaneously combust. In fact, hundreds of complaints have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other safety agencies, yet no one has issued a recall for the defective vehicles. More concerning to California consumers may be the fact that some carmakers do not think the matter is serious.

Using euphemisms like "thermal event," Kia spokespeople promise to continue investigating reports about fires. In numerous examples of these vehicle fires, the drivers were unaware that their cars were burning until another driver got their attention to warn them. In at least one case, the fire created an electrical malfunction that trapped the driver in the vehicle while it burned.

Carmakers discourage lemon law claims process

Vehicle owners in California and elsewhere often face many frustrations when dealing with a breakdown or other defect. They are fortunate when the mechanic quickly finds the trouble and repairs the problem effectively. However, when a new vehicle breaks down and the dealer's mechanic cannot repair the problem, car owners may have to begin the lemon law claims process.

This process involves collecting proof that the owner has made several unsuccessful attempts to repair the vehicle. The owner then contacts the manufacturer to report the issue. Theoretically, the manufacturer will offer to replace or repurchase the problem vehicle. Unfortunately, some manufacturers are not eager to do this. In fact, consumer advocates report that the toll-free number many car manufacturers publicize for complaints of lemons may connect consumers to a public relations agent, not someone who can really assist them.

Fulltime RVers rely on California lemon laws

Purchasing an RV or camper is not something you do on an impulse. You may have spent years planning and saving until you were ready to shop for the perfect RV. It had to be safe, reliable and comfortable enough to live in, especially if you planned to RV full time or to spend entire seasons in your new recreational vehicle. If traveling across California or even seeing the country was your plan, you never thought you would end up with a lemon for an RV.

It's one thing to be stranded when your car breaks down. However, if your new RV lets you down, you may be stranded hundreds or thousands of miles from home, far from anything you know or anyone you trust. This may be even more frustrating if an RV manufacturer's mechanic is unable to find the reason for the problem.

More California car owners rely on lemon law rights

One of the costliest purchases a consumer makes is buying a new vehicle. Many in California have gone through the frustration and uncertainty of owning a used car, often dealing with expensive repairs while still paying on a car loan. To avoid this, they study their options and purchase a new vehicle, assuming it will be reliable. Unfortunately, some find themselves facing lemon law issues nonetheless.

Investigating the reliability of a new car includes reading reports and reviews from consumer advocates. Recently Consumer Reports released its list of the most and least-reliable new car models. The criteria with which new vehicles are judged includes the number of issues consumers and researchers have had with the vehicle over the past year. While Lexus, Mazda and Toyota have put out fairly reliable vehicles this year, consumers are frustrated with the problems they have after purchasing Tesla, Volvo or Cadillac cars.

California drivers not included in Honda defect repair

Car repairs are not cheap. Even if a new vehicle is under warranty, repairs can still cost a car owner who has to take time from work and family or find alternate transportation while the car is in the shop. A new car that requires multiple repairs can quickly become a frustration an owner does not want to deal with. In fact, in such cases, the car repairs may fall under California lemon laws.

Some owners of new Honda CR-Vs are becoming fed up with the defects in their vehicles, and Honda is finally taking steps to correct a common issue. Soon after purchasing the car, owners may begin to smell an odor inside the car, see numerous warning lights on the dash board or have the car stall leaving them stranded. Dozens of Honda owners report that dealership mechanics, unable to correct the issue, have told them to adjust their driving, such as taking only short trips or using only the most expensive gasoline.

What happens to a lemon law claim after a recall?

We see recalls frequently on the news. Large car companies such as Ford or Honda have recalled certain vehicles due to significant manufacture errors or defects. Usually, they send out a recall notice, and you bring in your car for repair.

However, what if you were pursuing compensation for a defect in your new car through a lemon law claim when it was recalled? What happens then?

Mom invokes lemon law for failing instrument panel

While some in California are fortunate enough to own vehicles just for fun, purchasing a car is a necessity for most consumers. Car buyers, especially parents, look for reliability to get them to work and safety to transport their children. For this reason, they may make the extra investment in a new car. The last thing a hard-working parent needs is to deal with lemon law violations after making numerous trips to the mechanic for repeated repairs on a new vehicle.

Unfortunately for one mother in another state, the purchase of a new vehicle brought just such frustrations. The single mom was proud to buy a Nissan Pathfinder, but the vehicle showed signs of trouble soon after the purchase. The Pathfinder's instrument panel continued to malfunction. Since the instrument panel is the center of many programs within the vehicle, a malfunction often left the driver without many important components.

Truck manufacturer blames water for tailgate malfunction

Most people in California purchase pickup trucks, especially heavy-duty trucks, because they want to haul things. Manufacturers of pickup trucks often use their dependability as a selling point. However, dependability does not always refer only to the way the engine runs. When it comes to a truck, the body of the vehicle must be strong and reliable. One manufacturer is receiving complaints that its truck has a serious flaw in its body.

Ford's popular heavy-duty F-250 and F-350 are now under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after the agency received complaints from five consumers that the tailgates on their trucks do not remain shut. The NHTSA plans to investigate over 54,000 models from 2017 to see why some of the tailgates spontaneously open when the vehicle is in motion. Although no injuries have yet been reported to the NHTSA, there is the possibility that a truck carrying cargo may lose its load, which can result in damage to other vehicles or cause an accident.

New Jeep Wrangler has serious defect

From the time they are old enough to imagine getting a driver's license, many in California and across the country envision themselves behind the wheel of a dream car. For some, it is a classic convertible, and for others, it is a sleek luxury sedan. One of the most popular vehicles sold in the United States is the Jeep Wrangler. While the distinct style of the Jeep make it a must-have for thousands of car buyers, some Jeep owners are learning that their dream car has a serious defect.

The Fiat Chrysler company claims no injuries have been reported, but about 18,000 2019 Jeep Wranglers are currently facing recall because of a defect that could cause the vehicle to crash without warning. The front track bar in these Jeeps has a faulty weld that can cause the bar, which stabilizes the axles, to break away from the frame. This may cause the driver to lose the ability to steer the vehicle.

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