The 2009 Car Complaint Index has just been published, showing the ranking,
by vehicle, of cars receiving the highest ratio of complaints to sales.
Complaints are fielded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA), results are published yearly and this year shows the Land Rover
LR2, the Mitsubishi Lancer, the Pontiac Solstice, the Dodge Avenger and
Subaru Impreza to be the top offenders.
Attention is sharply paid to vehicles with high complaint ratios for good
reason: the percentage of defective vehicles, or lemons, is astoundingly
high, especially from the U.S. “Big Three” automakers. To
add insult to injury, when a defect is found in a vehicle, a manufacturer
will do as much as possible to cover it up so that they are not plagued
with demands for refunds or replacements.
There is, in fact, something called a “secret warranty” that
can act as a deflection to consumers with valid
lemon law complaints. “A secret warranty is a strategy that manufacturers
use to avoid a recall,” explained California lemon law attorney
Norman Taylor. “Under a secret warranty, manufacturers will pay
for repair of a particular defect in a particular kind of vehicle, even
after the warranty has expired. They call them ‘warranty adjustment
policies’ or ‘goodwill gestures.’ And even these have
to be pried from the manufacturers by loudly complaining consumers—only
the squeaky wheel actually gets the grease.”
Taylor has witnessed such practice many times over the years. 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
It comes as no surprise that manufacturers will resort to such tactics
to avoid a recall. If the NHTSA discovers safety-related defects and orders
a recall, the manufacturer must arrange to repair the defect at no charge
or, if the manufacturer chooses, can replace or repurchase the vehicle
or defective component. The manufacturer must also file a public report
with detailed information on the recall, must notify all owners of affected
vehicles, and take numerous other costly steps to right the wrong.
Because manufacturers can and do take every measure to avoid replacement
or refund of defective vehicles, it behooves any consumer who believes
he or she may have purchased a lemon to contact a qualified lemon law
attorney right away.