A Sacramento, California-based consumer advocacy group called CARS (Consumers
for Automobile Reliability and Safety) is arguing that Toyota Motor Corporation
should buy back models with the highly-publicized unexpected acceleration
problem as lemon law buy-backs. So far, Toyota has not taken this measure
with their customers, instead urging them to bring the affected cars to
dealerships where they will be repaired.
Rosemary Shahan, president of CARS and a nationally known advocate for
vehicle owners’ rights stated that consumers who have experienced
the horror of unexpected acceleration should not be subjected to repeat
experiences, but should instead be offered a refund by the manufacturer.
“Such a request may certainly have merit, although it doesn’t
strictly conform to lemon law,” said Norman Taylor, leading California
lemon law attorney. “Under California’s lemon law, a manufacturer
is entitled to a reasonable opportunity to repair a defect. While the
court assumes that four repair attempts for the same defect is enough
of an opportunity, fewer repair attempts are required if the defect is
a serious safety risk—under which the Toyota acceleration problem
would certainly be classified.”
Taylor has seen and dealt with his share of vehicle defects. He has been
a California lemon law specialist for the past 23 years, and he and his
firm, Norman Taylor and Associates, have handled over 8,000 cases for
consumers with a 98 percent success rate.
Shahan is arguing that Toyota should simply buy back the affected vehicles
and keep them until they are made completely safe, at which point they
could be re-sold but with the statement “lemon law buyback”
affixed to their titles. This would relieve consumers who have already
been through one or more frightening unexpected accelerations.
Toyota has not commented one way or the other on Shahan’s statements.
“A vehicle with a defect is not necessarily a lemon,” Taylor
added. “Usually the manufacturer is entitled to a reasonable opportunity
to repair. If however, the defect is one which is life threatening or
is likely to lead to serious bodily injury, the consumer may pursue a
buyback without giving what is normally considered a reasonable opportunity
A good rule of thumb for consumers would be: if you think you may be driving
a lemon, contact a qualified lemon law attorney right away.