New Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Reliable When it Comes to Cars

shiny car for sale in summer weather

Is it better to buy a new or used car? Many people purchase new vehicles — rather than pre-owned cars — because they believe they are more reliable. But while consumers may think new vehicles won’t be as likely to break down and spend time in the repair shop, this isn’t necessarily true. Regardless of the safety-related features and technology implemented in new cars, some purchasers may find themselves disappointed. Unfortunately, manufacturers sometimes put vehicles on the market with reliability issues or defects that impair a vehicle’s safety or value.

Is it Better to Buy a New or Used Car?

It’s not always better to buy a brand new car instead of a pre-owned vehicle. New cars are not always immune to issues or meet a buyer’s expectations when it comes to reliability. Before purchasing any vehicle, it’s always best to research the specific make and model you are considering — just because a car was reliable one model year does not automatically mean it will be in the next one.

In many cases, a certified pre-owned vehicle may be just as reliable as a new car. It can also cost considerably less money and not require as much insurance coverage. When determining whether to buy a new or used car, it’s a good idea to evaluate all expenses — including maintenance, gas, repairs, and insurance.

What Can New Car Buyers Do if Their Car Has Reliability Issues?

No one expects to purchase a car only to discover that it repeatedly breaks down and cannot be relied upon to get them where they need to go. Depending on the severity of the issue and whether repairs were attempted, a consumer might be able to take legal action. Critically, California has strong laws to protect consumers from being financially burdened and inconvenienced by defective vehicles that do not conform to their warranties.

To bring a lawsuit under California’s Lemon Law, an owner must establish that their vehicle has a substantial defect that impairs its safety or value — and the problem cannot be repaired. It’s usually sufficient to show the car’s defect is not repairable after it has been brought to the repair shop four times for the same issue. However, only two repair attempts are typically necessary if the problem could cause physical harm or fatality to the driver, their passengers, or others on the road.

A car might be deemed a lemon under the law if it was in the repair shop for a total of 30 days and was not repaired. There is also a presumption that a vehicle is a lemon if the defect arose within 18 months of delivery or the first 18,000 miles driven. Importantly, a consumer has four years from the date the defect is discovered to commence a lemon law lawsuit to obtain a refund or replacement vehicle.

Is the Lemon Law Only for New Cars?

California’s Lemon Law doesn’t only apply to new cars — it applies to any vehicle that is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty. This means that in many instances, pre-owned vehicle owners are also protected by the lemon law and may be entitled to pursue a legal remedy if the car has a nonconformity that cannot be repaired after several reasonable attempts.

If you are thinking about purchasing a used car, it’s crucial to be aware that there are certain regulations dealerships in California must follow in order to label a used car as “certified.” Specifically, a vehicle cannot be certified if:

  • The vehicle has not undergone a complete inspection
  • The car is a Lemon Law buyback
  • The car has unrepairable defects
  • The vehicle has been damaged in a fire, flood, or collision
  • The car has frame damage or is being sold “as is”

A certified pre-owned vehicle must have undergone a complete inspection, and the buyer is entitled to a copy of the report. Dealerships that engage in deceptive practices when it comes to labeling vehicles as “certified” when they do not meet the legal criteria can be subject to civil and criminal penalties. If a consumer purchases a vehicle that was fraudulently designated “certified,” they may be able to recover compensation for the damages they incurred under California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act.

Contact an Experienced Southern California Lemon Law Attorney

If you bought a new or used car with a substantial defect that cannot be repaired, you might have a lemon. A skilled lemon law attorney can assess your specific situation and advise you regarding your legal rights and remedies. The Ledbetter Law Firm is committed to providing high-quality representation and aggressive advocacy for consumers who have purchased unreliable cars that do not conform to their warranties.

The Ledbetter Law Firm helps people in Southern California who have experienced lemon law issues with their vehicles obtain positive results in their cases. With offices conveniently located in Torrance and San Diego, California, telephone and video conferencing options are also available. Call (310) 878-0067 to schedule a consultation with a California Lemon Law attorney today.