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Do I Have a Lemon Vehicle If My Car Was Recalled?

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  December 11, 2020

While a recalled vehicle and a lemon have similarities, they are viewed quite differently under the law.

What Is a Recall?

It is important first to understand how a recall is determined on a national level. When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) deems that a specific vehicle, part, or add-on is no longer meeting the safety standards of operation, a recall may be issued and the manufacturer will be required to remedy the problem for all affected vehicles.

Some recent safety defects that could have warranted a recall include:

  • Over 50,000 of the 2018-2019 Honda Odysseys were recalled in the past year for having severe transmission issues. While this has already been remedied for future models of its kind, it was still a great cause for concern.
  • Since 2003, Honda Pilots have had transmission issues that warranted consumers calling into the manufacturer. While the 2003, 2005, and 2016 models have not been recalled and the fix was a simple couple hundred dollar problem, accidents still occurred as a result of this.

However, just because specific vehicles or their parts are recalled does not necessarily mean that their owners have grounds for lemon law claims. We explain more below.

How Do Recalls Work with Lemon Laws?

When a car is recalled, the manufacturer is already aware of the problem and has likely figured out the way to fix it. Keep in mind that this is a very expensive proposition for a manufacturer, and they don’t just voluntarily do it unless they are out of options and are ordered to do so by the NHTSA.

Most recalls require the manufacturer to repair or replace the affected vehicle or part automatically. In these cases, it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to reach out to the consumer and get the issue resolved. In nearly all cases, the recall issues will be adequately fixed upon the first repair attempt.

In lemon law cases, on the other hand, the consumer must engage with the manufacturer about a significant problem with their vehicle. The problem can be something that either poses a potential safety hazard or diminishes the value of the vehicle, and the manufacturer must make a reasonable number of attempts to remedy the defect.

A recall may become a lemon if, for instance, the consumer has already taken their vehicle in for repair related to the recall and has given the manufacturer a reasonable chance to replace or repair the vehicle. If the problem is pervasive and not fixed after multiple attempts, the consumer would have a legitimate claim for a buyback under California’s Lemon Law.

It is important to note that if you are experiencing a factory defect with your vehicle, it is vital that you have the dealership document your complaint of the defect for lemon law purposes. If you have any questions regarding this, please contact our office for clarification.

Wondering If Your Car Is a Lemon? Call Us!

Our California Lemon Law attorneys have handled over 10,000 cases involving lemon vehicles and are eager to take on your case. If you are unsure if your car qualifies under California’s Lemon Laws, contact our office today by calling (818) 244-3905 to schedule a free case evaluation.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.


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