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Recalls of Defective Vehicles Underscores Lemon Law Value

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  April 26, 2010

Just as it seemed as though the hullabaloo about defective vehicle recalls was dying down, Toyota has added two new models to the list: the Lexus GX 460 and the Land Cruiser Prado. The recall came just hours after Toyota agreed to pay the largest fine ever imposed by the government against an automaker. This recall is to fix a problem with the stability control system. According to Consumer Reports, the rear end of the GX has a tendency to slide sideways during sharp turns and Toyota has temporarily stopped building and selling the vehicle in response.

Consumer protection and advocacy is something Americans take for granted; but we are in fact very fortunate to have these check s and balances in place. The Consumer Protection section of the website covers everything from air travel to workplace safety. Vehicle safety is of course one of the major areas of consumer protection.

Every state has a law known as the lemon law covering the need for cars to have a warranty and for manufacturers to replace or refund the money for any defective vehicle that can’t be fixed after reasonable efforts to do so. While many people think this applies mainly to used cars, recent events have shown that it applies to new cars too. In fact, most cases brought to lemon law attorneys involve new cars.

California has the strongest consumer protection laws of any U.S. state, partly because of rigorous advocacy and lobbying by groups such as Utility Consumers’ Action Network, Consumer Federation of California and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The California lemon law is also one of the best in the U.S. The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act provides protection for consumers who lease or buy new motor vehicles. The law applies for the entire period of your warranty. So if your vehicle is covered by a three-year warranty and you discover a defect after two years, the manufacturer will have to replace the vehicle or reimburse you if they are unable to fix the defect after a reasonable number of attempts to do so.


Under Federal law there are two main categories of warranties, called ‘full’ and ‘limited’. A full warranty imposes many requirements on the manufacturer, including a requirement that the manufacturer replace a defective product after a reasonable opportunity to repair it. Unfortunately, most manufacturers only provide limited warranties, however most state laws fill in for this deficiency.

If a warranty expires before a dealer or manufacturer has corrected persistent defects, the manufacturer’s duty usually continues beyond the warranty period. In some states, including California, when a defect appears during the warranty but repair attempts fail to correct the defect, the warranty period is extended until the defect has actually been fixed. This rule was established to prevent manufacturers from performing ‘band-aid’ repairs, designed to address the defect only until the warranty expires, and then saying, “we have no further obligation.”

Thanks to our strict lemon law, this is not acceptable – the law requires a permanent cure.

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