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Due to advances in technology, more cars than ever before are being equipped with driver assistance systems. While many vehicle owners purchase these packages for the peace of mind they may provide, you might want to rethink whether you want to add one to your vehicle. Regardless of how innovative these systems may seem, driver assistance technology is not without flaws or safety defects.
Although driver assistance features in vehicles are meant to reduce collisions and other safety hazards, it may actually cause them in some cases. Overreliance on emergency brake and lane departure systems, back-up cameras, or blindspot monitors can significantly increase the risk of a crash — especially if the functions don't work correctly. If you purchased a car with faulty driver assistance features that cannot be repaired, you might be entitled to a remedy under the lemon law.
While driver assistance packages in vehicles can help to prevent accidents and be convenient, they may not be entirely reliable. Drivers still need to exercise the same caution they would have if they were driving a vehicle without one of these systems. In fact, drivers may need to take additional precautions when operating cars with driver assist features. According to the American Automobile Association's research findings, cars with active driver assistance systems experienced a problem every eight miles over the course of 4,000 miles driven.
Some common issues with driver assistance technology can include:
While faulty driver assistance systems may fail to function when necessary, the features may also engage even if there is no hazard present, putting vehicle occupants and others on the road at risk of injury or fatality. Nonconformities can be caused by software, computer, or electrical issues, design defects, and other flaws that occurred during the manufacturing process. Sometimes, the problem can be resolved with a software update. In other instances, manufacturers may not be able to identify a solution, or the issue may not be repairable.
If you purchased a vehicle in California with driver assist technology that fails to work properly, you might have bought a lemon. California Lemon Law protects consumers who purchased cars with driver assistance system defects from incurring significant repair expenses for issues that cannot be fixed, as long as the vehicle is still under the original manufacturer's warranty.
In order to be entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle under the lemon law for a faulty driver assistance system, a reasonable number of repair attempts are required — or your car must have been in the repair shop for 30 days or more. Generally, four attempts must be made to repair the vehicle's nonconformity. However, in cases involving a defect that presents a serious safety risk, such as those involving driver assistance systems, two repair attempts are usually sufficient to invoke the lemon law.
In California, there is a legal presumption that a vehicle with a driver assist defect is a lemon if the nonconformity arose within 18 months of the vehicle's delivery or the first 18,000 miles on the odometer.
If your vehicle meets the lemon law criteria, you have four years to file your claim from the date you discovered that your driver assistance system was flawed.
Automated driving systems have become increasingly common in cars manufactured over the last few years. Although vehicles with autopilot capabilities can be nearly self-driving, they still require the operator's supervision and full attention. Contrary to what consumers might think, autopilot functions do not mean a car is fully automated.
Depending solely upon automated driving features can be dangerous — particularly if they're defective. Notably, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration had commenced an investigation into Tesla's autopilot features, following a fatal accident involving a driver who was relying on them at the time of the collision. Additionally, Mercedes Benz recalled 6,200 vehicles in 2019 concerning a defect with its active steering assist system due to its potential to cause a crash.
If your vehicle's autopilot system is malfunctioning or disengages unexpectedly, it's critical to bring your car back to the dealership immediately for a diagnostic and any necessary repairs. If the root of the autopilot system problem is a software glitch that cannot be remedied or fixed with an update, you may be able to assert your legal rights under the lemon law.
If you purchased a vehicle with a driver assistance package that didn't conform to the manufacturer's warranty, your car may be a lemon. A knowledgeable California Lemon Law attorney can fight to ensure that you receive the refund or replacement vehicle you deserve. The attorneys at the Ledbetter Law Firm have extensive experience advocating for the rights of consumers who bought new and used cars that rise to the level of a lemon and obtaining positive outcomes in their cases.
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.