Lemon Law & Safety Recalls

Line of parked carsSome Californians are confused about the state’s Lemon Law. They mistakenly believe that to be protected under California’s Lemon Law, their vehicle must be subject to a safety recall. This simply is not the case – allow us to explain.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the “NHTSA issues vehicle safety standards and requires manufacturers to recall vehicles and equipment’s [sic] that have safety-related defects.” If an individual has a safety problem, the NHTSA asks them to report the problem with their car seats, tires, or other equipment.

Steps the NHTSA Must Take Following a Complaint 

The NHTSA makes it a priority to review every reported problem to help keep America’s roadways safe. Once the NHTSA receives a complaint from a consumer, the agency will take the following steps:

  • The NHTSA reviews the complaint related to the alleged vehicle defects.
  • If the NHTSA decides its necessary, it will open an investigation into the consumer’s complaint.
  • The NHTSA analyzes any petitions that call for a defect investigation. If the NHTSA denies such a petition, the reason for its denial will be published in the Federal Register.
  • The NHTSA opens an investigation into an alleged safety defect and closes it when it notifies the manufacturer of the NHTSA’s recall recommendations. If the NHTSA does not find a safety-related defect, it will notify the manufacturer.
  • The NHTSA is the agency responsible for reviewing filed complaints by automobile owners. Upon review, the NHTSA decides if it should open an investigation.

Your automobile does not need to be subject to a safety recall for you to be protected under California’s Lemon Law. When you purchase a new vehicle, it usually comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, which promises to repair the vehicle if anything fails to perform properly and as intended.

How Many Recalls Before a Car is a Lemon? 

Because a recall is simply a repair that has been made public because it affects a large number of vehicles, the number of recalls that would qualify a car as a lemon would be the same as the number of repairs required under California lemon law. There are two general rules of thumb that can help you determine whether your recalled vehicle is, in fact, a lemon:  

  1. Number of Repairs: The manufacturer has attempted to repair the defect at least four times. 
  2. Days Out of Use: During the first 12,000 miles of use, your car has been out of use for at least thirty days.      

If the repair shop cannot fix the defect after “reasonable attempts” have been made, and the defect is enough of a problem that the vehicle is unsafe or cannot be driven, the manufacturer must: 1) replace the defective vehicle or 2) refund the customer’s money back. It’s that simple! No recalls required.

To learn more about California’s Lemon Law, contact Norman Taylor & Associates at (888) 340-1911 for a free consultation.

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