Common Toyota Lemon Law Qualifications

Toyota dealership

Toyota manufactures some of the most popular vehicles sold across the country, including California. While many consumers purchase various Toyota models believing that they will be dependable and provide reliable transportation, this isn’t always the case. Like other cars, Toyota vehicles can malfunction, be defective, and fail to conform to their warranties. If you bought a new or used Toyota and began noticing it had problems after you drove it off the lot, there’s a chance your vehicle may qualify under Toyota lemon law.

Frequently Reported Problems in Toyota Vehicles

Despite Toyota being a favorite vehicle choice among consumers, many owners have complained about a wide range of issues in various makes and models. Some problems commonly reported to have occurred in Toyota vehicles can include:

  • Engine failure
  • Transmission issues
  • Defects to the air-conditioning system
  • Issues with the heating system
  • Bad brakes
  • Faulty airbags
  • Fuel pump issues
  • Check engine light issues
  • Overheating
  • Seat belt defects

Specifically, drivers of the Toyota Tacoma have complained about a number of defects, including braking issues that make it difficult for the vehicle to come to a complete stop and delayed engagement of the automatic transmission. Both of these problems not only can be a nuisance, but they can cause serious safety hazards. There have also been recalls issued in recent years for issues concerning stalling and differential oil leaks in the Tacoma models.

If you experienced any defect or safety issue with a Toyota vehicle, it’s crucial to bring it back to the authorized dealership for a diagnostic. If your car is still under warranty and the defect cannot be repaired, you may be able to assert the Toyota lemon law for a full refund or a replacement vehicle.

What is the Toyota Lemon Law Process?

Buying a Toyota that turned out to be a lemon can cause considerable inconvenience, frustration, and hassle. California’s Lemon Law protects consumers from the financial burden they could face as a result of buying a vehicle — including a Toyota — that fails to conform to the manufacturer’s warranty.

Under the lemon law, a consumer may be entitled to a refund or replacement if they purchased a vehicle within the state that has a defect which substantially impairs its safety or value. The first step in the Toyota lemon law process is to bring the car back to the authorized Toyota dealership for repairs. Generally, if the nonconformity still cannot be repaired after four attempts, or the vehicle has been in the shop for thirty days or more, you may be able to invoke the lemon law. Only two repair attempts are usually required if the defect gives rise to a serious safety issue that could result in injury to the driver, their passengers, or others on the road.

It’s important to bring your Toyota to the dealership as soon as you begin experiencing problems — to assert your rights under the lemon law, the defect must have been detected while the car is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty. Additionally, a lemon law case must be brought within four years of discovering the problem. There is a legal presumption in California that a car is a lemon if a nonconformity arose within the first 18 months of the vehicle’s delivery or the first 18,000 miles driven.

What Qualifies a Toyota for a Lemon Law Buyback?

If your Toyota meets the lemon law criteria, the manufacturer may “buy back” the car. This means that they will repurchase the defective vehicle from the consumer once they’ve made a certain number of unsuccessful repair attempts.

Once “lemon law buybacks” are reacquired by the manufacturer and the nonconformity is repaired, the cars can then be placed back on the market to be sold to another consumer. However, this doesn’t always mean that the problem was fully remedied. California has strict laws in place that require a dealership to inform potential purchasers of a vehicle’s lemon law history so they can make an informed decision. The manufacturer and the dealership must make specific disclosures about the defects that made the vehicle qualify as a lemon law buyback and the repairs that were made.

If you’re considering purchasing a Toyota lemon law buyback, it’s always best to do your complete diligence on the vehicle. In some cases, the car may have qualified as a lemon simply because it remained in the repair shop for over a month due to a minor defect that was fully resolved. In other instances, you could end up spending a substantial amount of money in repairs for a problem that can’t be fixed.

Toyota Recalls

Over the past decade, millions of Toyota vehicles have been recalled over issues ranging from seatbelt defects to faulty Takata airbags and engine problems. Significantly, more than three million Toyota and Lexus models were recalled by the manufacturer in 2020 due to a fuel pump problem found in specific makes and models. Toyota first announced it was conducting a safety review of certain vehicles in January 2020. The recall was expanded in October 2020 — and once again in December to add additional makes and models.

The recalled vehicles include a number of Toyota models manufactured between 2013 and 2020, including the Toyota Tacoma, Sienna, Highlander, 4Runner, Land Cruiser, Tundra, Corolla, Corolla Hatchback, Camry, FJ Cruiser, and Avalon. In addition, the fuel pump in many Lexus models made within the same time frame have also been found to be defective.

If the fuel pump fails in the affected models, the vehicle could stall suddenly or hesitate, leading to an increased risk of accident. Signs of a problem with the fuel pump can include warning lights and messages displaying on the instrument panel or a rough running engine.

Another Toyota recall last year concerned faulty engine blocks in several 2019-2020 Toyota and Lexus models. As a result of a manufacturing defect, the engine block in certain vehicles may be cracked, leading to stalling or engine fire due to coolant or oil leakage. The 2020 Toyota Camry, Toyota Camry Hybrid, and the Toyota Avalon Hybrid are among the affected vehicles, as well as 2020 Lexus ES300h sedans, and 2019-2020 Toyota RAV4 and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SUVs.

Toyota is replacing the defective parts in the affected vehicles at no charge to consumers. However, even if you have received a replacement part, you might continue to experience a defect or vehicle malfunction. If your car was unable to be fully repaired, you may be able to assert your rights to a refund or replacement vehicle under California’s lemon law.

Contact a Southern California Toyota Lemon Law Attorney

If you purchased a new or used Toyota that turned out to be a lemon, you have rights as a consumer under California’s lemon law. A skilled California Lemon Law attorney can help ensure you get the refund or replacement vehicle to which you’re entitled if your vehicle failed to conform to the manufacturer’s warranty. It’s critical to understand that a lemon law case must be brought in California within four years from the date you found out that the car was defective.

The California Lemon Law lawyers at the Ledbetter Law Firm help people in Southern California who have experienced Lemon Law issues with their vehicles obtain a vehicle replacement or the refund that they deserve. With offices conveniently located in San Diego and Torrance, California, telephone and video conferencing options are also available. Call (619) 374-0252 to schedule a consultation with a California Lemon Law used car attorney today.