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Experienced attorneys here to help you recover costs associated with persistent automotive problems.

Do Bad Brakes Make My Vehicle a Lemon?

Car brakes

Nothing can be more distressing than driving your vehicle, hitting the brakes, and realizing that they don’t work properly. The brakes in your vehicle are one of its most essential components — when brakes malfunction, the likelihood of an accident increases substantially, putting drivers, passengers, and others on the road at risk of imminent harm.

No vehicle should be driven with bad brakes — and a car should never leave the manufacturer with them. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that cars with bad brake rotors, faulty brake pads, or other defects make their way onto dealership lots and are sold to consumers. If you purchased a vehicle with brake issues that aren't repairable, you may have bought a lemon.

Does the California Lemon Law Cover Car Brake Problems?

If your car has a faulty brake system, it's critical to bring the vehicle back to the dealership right away. Depending on what is causing the issue, the problem may be quickly resolved, or it might not be repairable at all. California Lemon Law helps to protect consumers who have purchased a new or used vehicle in the state with an issue that makes it fail to conform to the manufacturer's warranty — such as brake defects.

Consumers are generally required to make four attempts at repairs before invoking the lemon law. However, a car with a substantial defect that presents a significant safety hazard only needs to be brought into the shop twice. Since brake issues in cars can potentially cause severe injuries, you may be eligible to receive a refund or replacement under the lemon law if the dealership cannot fix the problem after just two repair attempts. You may also be entitled to relief under the lemon law if your car is in the repair shop for its brake problems for thirty days or more.

To assert your rights under California Lemon Law for car brake problems or any other defect, the issue must have been discovered while the vehicle is still under the original manufacturer's warranty. It's also presumed that your car is a lemon if the brake defects arose within 18 months of delivery or before the odometer reaches 18,000 miles.

Signs Your Car Might Have Bad Brakes

Having brakes in good working order is critical — they're what makes a vehicle stop, slow down, and avoid collisions. Although brake systems in cars today are more technologically advanced than ever before, there can still be any number of problems that can arise, causing malfunctions and safety issues.

While a car's failure to stop when you put your foot on the brake may signify that the vehicle has an obvious defect, there can also be many other indications that your vehicle has bad brakes. Some common warning signs your car has a brake issue may include:

  • Strange smells when you hit the brakes
  • Drifting while braking
  • Unusual noises or vibrations
  • A difference in brake pedal resistance
  • Needing to press harder on the brake pedal
  • Brake fluid leaks
  • Brake light appears
  • Grinding or squeaking sounds while braking
  • Bouncing or rocking when stopping short
  • Unexpected braking

Bad brakes should not be ignored. If your car is experiencing any issues with the braking system, it's important to bring your car to the dealership immediately for a diagnostic and any necessary repairs. By delaying having your brakes inspected, you not only increase your chances of getting into an accident, but you could end up spending more on repairs in the long run and incur the costs when the vehicle is no longer under warranty.

It's essential to keep a copy of all correspondence from the dealership, as well as any receipts and invoices for repairs. These documents can help provide proof of the braking defect in the event you need to commence a lemon law case.

Causes of Brake Issues with Cars

Brake systems are complex, and issues can arise due to any number of problems. Brake issues with cars can be caused by a design flaw or a manufacturing defect and affect an entire line of vehicles. In these cases, the manufacturer may issue a recall. Other times, brake system defects that cannot be repaired occur in just one particular vehicle, making it a lemon.

Software or electrical issues, bad brake rotors, worn-out brake pads, welding defects, or use of poor-quality materials during manufacturing are all nonconformities that can pose a risk of serious danger to drivers and their passengers. Even defective or poorly designed floor mats have the potential to cause safety issues if they prevent the brake pedals from moving.

Problems with Automatic Emergency Braking Systems

Many cars made today are equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems. This safety feature is meant to help drivers avoid rear-end accidents and avert objects in the road. Although AEB technology was designed to help prevent accidents, many drivers have reported defects in these systems that may actually lead to crashes instead. Consumers have complained about a number of issues with AEB systems, including unintended stalling, unexpected stopping, and improper activation of the braking mechanism.

Specifically, drivers have made complaints about recent model years of the Volkswagen Atlas, Nissan Rogue, and the Honda CR-V. The NHTSA launched an investigation into the Nissan Rogue brake issues. The manufacturer is also facing a class action lawsuit concerning the allegedly defective AEB system. Consumers who purchased a vehicle in California with a defective AEB system may also be entitled to invoke the state’s lemon law.

Contact a Southern California Lemon Law Attorney

If you bought a car with bad brakes or a brake system defect that can't be repaired, you may be entitled to a replacement vehicle or refund under California's lemon law. An experienced California lemon law attorney can fight for your rights and help ensure you reach a positive resolution. If your vehicle is showing signs that it has a brake problem, it's important to be aware that you only have four years in California to file a lemon law case, beginning on the date you discovered the defect.

The Ledbetter Law Firm helps 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 attorney today.

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