Lemon Law and ‘Reasonable Opportunity to Repair’
Norman Taylor & Associates
May 21, 2009
Lemon laws continue to be strengthened throughout the country. The Oregon Senate has just passed a bill that lengthens the period of time a consumer has to complain about a defective vehicle to 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. The state hopes the bill will improve consumer confidence when it comes to making an investment in a new car.
Such laws have become increasingly necessary over the years due to the fact that auto manufacturers and their dealers deliberately make it difficult for consumers to get their due under the law. Utilizing delaying tactics and all manner of subterfuge, the entire intent seems designed to make the owner of a lemon simply give up and go away. “Instead of fixing vehicle defects, dealers and manufacturers will try to convince a consumer that the vehicle doesn’t need to be fixed, or that in fact the consumer actually doesn’t want it fixed,” said Norman Taylor, leading California lemon law attorney.
In his many years as a consumer activist and lemon law attorney, Taylor has heard many stories supporting this statement. He has been a lemon law specialist since 1987, and he and his firm, Norman Taylor and Associates, have handled over 8,000 cases for consumers with a 98 percent success rate. He is one of the leading lemon law attorneys in southern and all of California.
Under most state lemon laws, a manufacturer is entitled to a “reasonable opportunity to repair” a defect in a vehicle before legal action is taken. What exactly does that mean? Before lemon laws existed, it could be endless; it was not uncommon for manufacturers to insist they be allowed yet another chance to repair even after twenty or thirty failed attempts. Today many states, including California, presume that four repair attempts for the same defect is enough, and if the defect is a serious safety risk consumers may seek legal relief after fewer attempts.
There is also a legal definition of what exactly constitutes an “attempt.” Manufacturers will often argue that a repair visit should count as a repair attempt only if their dealership actually performed some kind of work. If, for example, a dealership inspects the car and cannot find a problem and ends up performing no work, the manufacturer argues that this is not a “repair attempt” even if the consumer brought the vehicle in eight times for the same problem. If actual work was only performed once or twice during this time, the manufacturer will argue it had only one or two repair attempts.
“The manufacturer’s argument doesn’t hold water,” said Taylor. “Your only duty is to give the manufacturer an opportunity to repair by bringing your vehicle to an authorized dealer. It is not your fault if the dealer does not take advantage of the opportunity. All of your repair visits count, regardless of what the dealer does or does not do.”
The best course of action for any consumer, if they suspect they have a lemon, is to contact a qualified lemon law attorney right away.