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How Do Recalls Affect Lemon Law Cases?

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  July 29, 2021

While many people know that a recall issue does not mean a car is a lemon, we are often asked whether existing recalls affect lemon law cases. We are also often asked whether repair attempts associated with a recall count when factoring a manufacturer’s “reasonable” attempts at repairing a car designated as a lemon. Determining whether a vehicle is a lemon can be complicated, and in some cases, the existence of an active or past recall on a car can complicated matters. Below we look at these two questions and discuss how recalls may affect your lemon law claim.

What Is the Purpose of a Recall?

When manufacturers or the NHTSA discover a safety defect with a vehicle or car, the manufacturer must deal with the problem. They do this by issuing a recall for the car. When a recall is issued, the manufacturer (or dealership) will fix the problem for free. If the problem cannot be repaired or replaced, the manufacturer is required to offer the owner a refund, or in some cases, repurchase the vehicle back from the owner.

According to the NHTSA, the definition of a safety defect is two-fold. It is “a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment that poses a risk to motor vehicle safety, and may exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture, or items of equipment of the same type and manufacture.”

Common car recalls include:

  • Brakes
  • Car seats
  • Engines
  • Transmissions

Recall problems tend to impact specific makes and models of vehicles and are typically tied to part or equipment defects during manufacturing. For example, a defective battery used in an electric vehicle is likely to impact many cars of the same make, model, and year. Depending on how widely the manufacturer used the defective battery in their vehicles, it may even impact several makes, models, and vehicle years. For example, the the recent Chevy Bolt recall that impacted Bolts from model years 2017-2019.

Do Recall Repairs Count in Lemon Law Claims?

Under California’s Lemon Law, manufacturers are entitled to a reasonable number of repair attempts before a car is classified as a lemon. Consequently, we are often asked whether recall repair attempts count towards this reasonable number of attempts in Lemon Law claims. Generally speaking, recall repair attempts do count when determining whether a car is a lemon.

Just because there is an active recall does not mean that the individual vehicle is not a lemon. Most recall issues are repaired on the first attempt. However, if your car or vehicle continues to have issues after a recall repair, you may have a lemon on your hands.

When to Get a Lawyer Involved

If you are struggling with a defective vehicle, you should reach out to an experienced Lemon Law attorney like ours at Norman Taylor & Associates. If you have a lemon, the manufacturer is required to either replace the defective part, replace the vehicle, or refund you for the cost of the car. Lemon Law cases can be complicated. It is recommended that you work with a lawyer throughout the process to ensure that your rights are protected and that manufacturers are held responsible.

New, used, and leased cars are all protected under California’s Lemon Law, but there are limitations. However, this does not mean that you do not have any recourse when dealing with a defective vehicle. If you do not have grounds for a Lemon Law claim, you may still have grounds for a breach of warranty case. Your lawyer can help you explore all of your legal options when dealing with a defective vehicle.

To learn more about the difference between Lemon Law claims and breach of warranty cases, review our blog here.

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