Sudden Unintended Acceleration in California Vehicles

Car speeding on the road

When you purchase a car, you expect that it won’t have any problems and will be safe to operate. Unfortunately, some vehicles may have manufacturing defects that can cause unintended acceleration. These issues can cause cars to accelerate without the driver stepping on the gas pedal, and veer out of control. Not only can sudden acceleration be a frightening experience for the driver and their passengers, but it can also lead to crashes and collisions that result in serious injuries.

Unintended acceleration is a critical safety issue — you shouldn’t assume that the problem will only happen once or that it will go away on its own. If your car begins to accelerate or speed up on its own suddenly, you should bring it back to the authorized dealership for a diagnostic. In some cases, sudden unintended acceleration might mean your car is a lemon.

What is Sudden Acceleration?

Unintended acceleration is one of the most dangerous defects a vehicle can have. The term describes an event in which a vehicle speeds up without the operator putting any pressure on the accelerator pedal. Drivers who have experienced these issues also usually report that they have lost control of their brakes. These frightening episodes can last several seconds or more, placing drivers, their passengers, and others on the road at risk of a serious accident.

Uncontrolled acceleration can occur when a vehicle is driving at any speed on the road. Sudden acceleration can also happen when you first start the engine, or while parking. Despite how advanced the safety system is in a vehicle, this type of defect can still arise and it’s crucial to ensure it is repaired immediately.

What Causes Unintended Acceleration?

The root causes of unintended acceleration in vehicles can be difficult to determine. Often, car manufacturers try to blame acceleration issues on user error. However, the problem may also be caused by a variety of mechanical failures or computer malfunctions.

Unexpected acceleration in a vehicle can be caused by a wide range of defects such as:

  • Electrical issues
  • Electronic throttle control problems
  • Sticking accelerator pedals
  • Software issues
  • Computer glitches
  • Unresponsive pedals
  • Mechanical interference
  • Defectively designed floor mats

Many car manufacturers have started to install brake throttle override systems in new cars to address the safety issues caused by sudden acceleration. This type of technology cuts power to the throttle in the event that both the brake and the accelerator pedals are depressed at the same time. While the safety feature may help reduce the instances of uncontrolled acceleration, it’s still important to exercise caution while driving.

Does Unexpected Acceleration Make My Car a Lemon?

Purchasing a car that has problems can take a significant toll on you financially — not to mention the inconvenience caused by having to bring the vehicle to the repair shop. California Lemon Law helps protect consumers who have purchased a new or used vehicle that doesn’t conform to its warranty, including those with safety issues or manufacturing defects that cause unintended acceleration.

Under California’s lemon law, you might be entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle if you purchased a car within the state with a substantial defect that can’t be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. However, in cases involving a problem that is dangerous and has the potential to cause injuries — such as unexpected acceleration — only two attempts at repairs must be shown to invoke the lemon law.

You may also be entitled to relief under the lemon law if you brought your car to the shop for an unintended acceleration issue, and it remained there for thirty days or more.

Importantly, to assert the lemon law for a vehicle defect such as uncontrolled acceleration, your car must still be under warranty. Or, you must have discovered the nonconformity while your vehicle is covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty. In California, there is also a presumption that a car is a lemon if the issue arose within 18 months of delivery or the first 18,000 miles driven.

What Cars Have Sudden Acceleration Problems?

Any vehicle make and model can have an uncontrolled acceleration issue. In the last decade, there have been millions of recalls related to unintended acceleration. Some manufacturers have linked the issue to faulty floor mats or sticking accelerator pedals. There can be countless other causes, as well.

Although unintended acceleration has been a potential problem with cars for years, a massive Toyota recall in 2009 and 2010 raised awareness about the issue. Recently, consumers have also complained about sudden acceleration issues in Subaru vehicles and in the Tesla Model S, Model 3, and Model X. Other owners have raised concerns about sudden deceleration issues in certain Acura MDX and RDX models.

Unexpected acceleration isn’t just limited to these vehicles. There can be any number of mechanical failures that may cause a car to speed up unexpectedly. While entire lines of certain makes and models may have a particular manufacturing or design defect that makes the vehicle dangerous, an individual vehicle can also have a specific issue that makes it rise to the level of a lemon.

Contact a Southern California Lemon Law Attorney

If you purchased a vehicle with sudden acceleration problems that can’t be repaired, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle under California’s lemon law. A skilled California Lemon Law attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected and you’re aware of your remedies. However, it’s critical to understand that you only have four years from the date you discovered your vehicle’s defect to file a case under the lemon law in California.

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.