Lemon Law and the Recall

Toyota has planned to recall 3.8 million U.S. Toyota and Lexus models -- its largest recall ever -- to fix floor mats that may snag gas pedals and cause vehicles to accelerate at high speeds. In the meantime, U.S. regulators are urging owners of the seven affected models to remove their driver-side floor mats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it issued the warning because of continued reports of vehicles accelerating rapidly after drivers released the accelerator.

The recall came on the heels of an August 28 accident in San Diego during which four people were killed in a Lexus, said Irv Miller, a spokesman for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. The investigation is continuing, but he said a floor mat catching on the accelerator may have caused that crash.

It is a good thing for consumers when a recall is issued—owners of affected vehicles can simply take advantage of the recall and the stipulated remedies. But sometimes it’s not so easy.

“Recalls can affect hundreds of thousands of vehicles and cost the manufacturer tens of millions of dollars,” said Norman Taylor, leading California lemon law attorney. “Beyond even these extraordinary costs is the damage done to the manufacturer’s reputation. Needless to say, manufacturers will do almost anything to avoid a recall.”

Taylor knows the ways of manufacturers in avoiding defects. 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 southern and all of California.

One method manufacturers have of avoiding a recall is something called a “secret warranty.”

“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,” Taylor explained. “But it is important to know that this will only occur for those consumers who are sufficiently aggressive in their complaints. To quote the old saw, ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease.’”

Manufacturers issue secret warranties in response to defects that have occurred in a widespread pattern—defects that may otherwise lead to recalls. Manufacturers call them “warranty adjustment policies” or “goodwill gestures.” In the trade, they are called “secret warranties” because they are communicated only to the company’s regional offices and dealers, but never to consumers.

For this reason and many others, it is vitally important to consult a qualified lemon law attorney if you think you may be driving a defective vehicle.

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