If you purchased or leased a defective vehicle, and now you’re considering filing a lemon law claim, you may be wondering which entity is legally responsible under the lemon law. Is it the manufacturer or is it the dealer? For starters, it’s important to understand that despite appearances, manufacturers and dealers are separate business entities. Often, consumers believe manufacturers and dealers are one of the same, but that is not the case.
Manufacturers are the ones responsible under California’s lemon law, specifically because the lemon law addresses vehicle defects that are covered under the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. So, if a manufacturer produces a vehicle with substantial defects that are not responding to a reasonable number of repairs, the manufacturer is liable because it must honor its warranty. Dealers don’t issue warranties on new motor vehicles, manufacturers do. A dealership might however issue a warranty on a used vehicle, in addition to the remainder of a manufacturer’s warranty on the vehicle.
The Manufacturer’s Responsibilities
When you buy or lease a vehicle, it typically comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, which promises to repair the vehicle if something were to go wrong. Sometimes, though, a consumer will bring their vehicle to the dealership for repairs, and the repair shop is unable to fix it. At this point, the repair shop cannot do any more, and the consumer turns to the manufacturer for a permanent solution.
Under the lemon law, if the manufacturer is unable to repair a defective vehicle and the defect is substantial enough, the manufacturer must replace the vehicle or offer the consumer a full refund.
If the manufacturer refuses to provide the consumer with an appropriate offer after making a reasonable number of attempts to fix the vehicle, the consumer has legal recourse; he or she can file a civil lawsuit against the manufacturer. If the consumer prevails, the manufacturer will be required to provide a replacement or refund, and pay all of the consumer’s court and legal fees.
We hope this clears up any questions you had about manufacturers and dealers. To discuss filing a lemon law claim against the manufacturer, contact Norman Taylor & Associates.