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Driving a Lemon? Get Help Immediately

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  February 4, 2010

Toyota Motor Corporation sure has had its share of headlines lately. First it was for an apparent problem with floor mat configuration causing unexpected acceleration. Then a suit was filed targeting vehicle computer systems for unexpected acceleration. In the last week was a story on yet another part causing the same problem, and just on the heels of that comes the very latest story detailing 102 complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for loss of braking ability in the auto maker’s Prius line. All this shows the continuing need for California lemon law.

With such high-profile defects that have already made their way into the major news outlets, Toyota has no choice but to service customers who own affected vehicles. Unfortunately, however, many more defects go under the radar—and manufacturers and dealers will do their best to keep them there. If you think you may be driving a lemon, it is best to contact a qualified California lemon law attorney right away.

One question a consumer might have is, what exactly constitutes a lemon?

“The lemon laws refer to such vehicles as those that qualify for a refund or return,” said leading California lemon law attorney Norman Taylor. “Most define them as vehicles that the manufacturer has not successfully repaired after a certain number of attempts, or after the vehicle has been out of service for a particular number of days.” Consumers should consult such an attorney if they have questions on the specifics of their particular state laws.

A vehicle defect is defined as something that the vehicle does that it should not do (for example, pulls to the left), or something it does not do that it should (for example, won’t start) that falls below the standard set forth in the vehicle’s warranty. Most lemon laws also specify within the definition that a “lemon” has a defective condition that substantially impairs its use. “Certainly defects that prevent the vehicle from starting, stopping, turning or otherwise operating properly would qualify as ‘substantial impairment,’” said Taylor. “Defects in important components like the air conditioning system or even significant paint defects that require repainting the entire vehicle might also be substantial impairments.”

Whether a defect is a substantial impairment or not is ultimately a decision for a judge or a jury. However, how the consumer feels about his or her experiences with the vehicle may also assist a jury in determining whether the vehicle is a lemon. “In many states, whether impairment is substantial is determined from the point of view of the consumer, not the manufacturer,” Taylor said. “This suggests a subjective standard, from the point of view of the particular consumer in each case. If you have a new vehicle that doesn’t work as promised, it can certainly leave a bitter taste in your mouth.”

If you are driving a vehicle that you feel is defective, the time to act is now. Contact a California lemon law attorney, know your rights and—most importantly—know if you are indeed driving a lemon.

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