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Motor Vehicle Defects Law: Are You Covered?

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  February 28, 2020

Buying or leasing a brand-new or “like new” used vehicle should be a great experience. Most consumers enjoy the whole process and can’t wait to park their new vehicle in their driveway and take in that “new car smell.” Ideally, the new car is everything the consumer imagined. The car handles beautifully and it runs smooth – the manufacturer delivered as promised and then some.

But what if the new car failed to perform as promised? What if the consumer finds themselves taking their “new car” back to the repair shop one too many times and the car is now giving them more trouble than they bargained for?

Does all the consumer’s money go down the drain? Are they stuck with this hefty auto loan while they’re having to rely on their spouse’s older car, their friends, or even a ride-sharing service to get them to work and back? Or, does the consumer have legal recourse against the manufacturer for failing to deliver a reliable vehicle?

When a Motor Vehicle is Defective

There are new and used vehicles on the market that wow consumers, handle beautifully, and perform as they’re supposed to, but that is not the case in every scenario. Since perfection is difficult to achieve even for the largest motor vehicle manufacturers, there are a percentage of vehicles that are sold to consumers that are defective.

When a motor vehicle is defective, it is usually covered by “motor vehicle defects law,” a breed of consumer protection law that applies to cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, RVs, etc. that are covered by warranties.

When car manufacturers and dealerships sell vehicles, they typically come with manufacturers’ warranties, which imply the vehicles are safe to drive. However, not every vehicle sold at a dealership is safe and sometimes the hazards are unknown by the manufacturer at the time of sale. Often, a motor vehicle defect isn’t discovered until months, if not years after the unsafe vehicle is sold or leased.

If a designer made an error or if a manufacturer decided to cut corners or if there was a mistake during manufacturing, consumers could be driving ticking timebombs that contain deadly defects that could surface at any moment while on the road.

When Lemon Laws Take Effect

Generally, consumers who have purchased or leased defective vehicles that do not respond to repairs (that have warranties in effect) are entitled to a replacement vehicle or full refund from the manufacturer.

Sometimes, the manufacturer discovers the defect, notifies the consumer, and tries to repair the vehicle free of charge. Other times, the manufacturer tries to escape responsibility and blames the consumer somehow, for example, they may blame the consumer’s driving behavior – that’s a common tactic.

Regardless if the manufacturer issued a recall or not, when a consumer spends an excessive amount of time trying to get their defective vehicle repaired and the car doesn’t respond to repairs, the consumer is often protected under lemon laws, a set of consumer protection laws that entitle consumers the right to a refund or replacement when they have a “lemon” on their hands.

If your motor vehicle is defective, it’s important to discuss the issue with a local lemon law attorney who can explain California’s state rules and regulations. To get started, contact Norman Taylor & Associates today.

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