In the current economic climate, it is certainly a “buyer’s
market” for automobiles and trucks. If you can qualify for a loan,
there are deals to be had. Many dealers are offering “employee pricing”
and many other incentives. But even with car dealers eager to make a sale,
buyers should beware and understand their rights when it comes to defective vehicles.
The reason? Car manufacturers—especially in the U.S.—ship a
large percentage of defective vehicles. If you’re trying to “do
the right thing” and buy American, this is a fact you should be
aware of, and also be aware of your rights under the law.
A lemon is generally defined as a vehicle that has had repeated warranty
repair work for a defect or defects that impair the use, value or safety
of the vehicle. The first warning to the dealer that you’re driving
a lemon, however, is when you bring your vehicle into the dealership for
a second attempt at repairing the same problem. At this point, the dealer,
financially motivated to not properly deal with a lemon, may start pulling
all kinds of tricks in an effort to get you to go away. This includes
somehow indicating that you really don’t know what you’re
talking about, and that the defect is actually your fault.
“In such a case, the service writer or technician wants the owner
to believe that he or she is too stupid to understand how to use a car,”
said Norman Taylor, leading
California lemon law attorney. “Dealerships actually want consumers to believe their cars are
fine, and that if they only knew something about cars, there never would
have been a problem in the first place.”
In his many years as a consumer activist and lemon law attorney, Taylor
has encountered numerous instances of this kind of dealer behavior. He
has been a lemon law specialist since 1987, and he and his firm, Norman
Taylor and Associates, have handled over 6,000 cases for consumers with
a 98 percent success rate.
Other dealer “deflections” include explaining that the car
was actually designed to operate that way, claiming after several repair
attempts that no problem was found, and simply avoiding the customer by
not returning calls or claiming that they can’t take the car for
“What consumers need to know is that a manufacturer and dealer almost
always know about a defect, despite what they tell you” Taylor concluded.
“If you think you may be driving a lemon, it is best to
contact a qualified lemon law attorney right away.”