Shopping for a brand new car can be a frustrating experience. But once you’ve bought the car you’ve been looking for, driving it should make up for that by being enjoyable. However, when something goes wrong, you lose that pleasure.
Unfortunately, about 150,000 (approximately 1%) of new vehicles sold each year turn out to be “lemons” – cars that have repeated, unfixable problems. Every state, including California, has enacted some type of “lemon law” to give consumers who get stuck with a lemon car a way to rectify the situation.
Is your car a lemon? To qualify as lemon car under most state laws, your car must:
- Have a substantial defect covered by the warranty that occurred within a certain period of time or number of miles after you purchased it
- Not be fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts
What constitutes a substantial defect? A lemon car has at least one manufacturing defect that significantly affects its function or that compromises your safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the follow defects are considered safety issues, and you should report the problems to the dealer ASAP:
- Steering problems that have the potential to cause partial/total loss of vehicle control
- Signs of fuel leakage that could result in a fire
- Accelerator controls that may break or stick
- Cracked wheels that could result in loss of vehicle control
- Wiring system problems that could in a fire
- Airbags that deploy when they’re not supposed to
- Faulty windshield wipers
- Faulty seat belts
- Critical vehicle components that break, fall apart, or separate from your vehicle
If you purchased your car directly from the dealership, the first thing you have to do is get help from the dealership in repairing your car.
Asking for help
If you’re having problems with a brand new car that’s still under warranty, you need to give the manufacturer’s dealership the opportunity to fix the problem(s). Under California’s Lemon Law, these guidelines are used to determine when a “reasonable number of repair attempts” have been made:
- The manufacturer or dealers hasn’t fixed the same problems after four or more attempts within the first 18,000 miles
- Your vehicle’s problems could cause death or serious bodily injury, and the manufacturer or dealer has made at least two unsuccessful repair attempts within the first 18,000 miles
- Your vehicle has been at the dealership for more than 30 days cumulatively
If the issues with your vehicle are unable to be fully resolved by the manufacturer or dealer after a “reasonable” number of attempts, the manufacturer must either replace your vehicle or refund its purchase price, whichever option you prefer.
Not getting the help you need?
Fortunately, most people don’t have serious problems with brand new cars considering that, on average, about 17 million new passenger vehicles and light trucks are sold annually. However, if you’re one of the 1% of buyers that does, the lemon laws of both the state and the federal government are in place to protect consumer rights.
If the dealership won’t fix your new car, it’s time to contact an experienced lemon law attorney. The Law Offices of Robert F. Brennan can help you to get the best possible outcome for your lemon law claim.