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  • Ben Beck

The Impact of Recalls on Lemon Law Claims

California Lemon Laws protect consumers who purchase or lease new or used vehicles covered by a manufacturer's warranty. It offers relief when a vehicle has substantial defects and safety concerns that significantly reduce its use, value or safety, and the manufacturer hasn't been able to fix the problems after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

In the U.S., when a vehicle (or a piece of vehicle equipment, car seat or tire) does not meet minimum safety standards or poses safety risks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) or the vehicle manufacturer issues a recall. A vehicle recall is a manufacturer's way of notifying owners about a safety defect or malfunction that could compromise the vehicle's performance and needs to be repaired. In some cases, a recall can be evidence of a substantial defect that qualifies under the Lemon Law, especially if multiple repair attempts fail to fix the underlying problem.

Manufacturers issue recalls when they discover a defect(s) in one of their vehicles. Learn about the impact of recalls on lemon law claims, in this article.

In this article, we will discuss when and how a vehicle recall can affect a lemon law claim.

Different Types of Recalls

In many dealerships, a computerized system automatically checks for open recalls whenever a vehicle's VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is entered into the service database. This ensures that any outstanding recalls are addressed during the repair visit, even if the owner isn't aware of them, or if they never received the actual recall notice.

A. Single Recall:

A single recall typically won't qualify for a lemon law claim. This is because recalls are designed to address widespread issues, and a successful repair usually resolves the problem. However, there are exceptions:

  • Recall Fix Fails: If the recall repair doesn't actually fix the underlying defect and the issue persists, it could strengthen a lemon law case.

B. Multiple Recalls:

Multiple recalls on your vehicle significantly increase your chances of a successful lemon law claim, especially if:

  • Multiple Repairs for the Same Defect: This means that the manufacturer has had multiple opportunities to fix the same issue identified in the recall, but the problem keeps coming back. This indicates a potentially substantial defect.

  • Recalls Address Different Critical Systems: Recalls targeting different critical systems within the defective vehicle (e.g., engine, brakes, steering) suggest a broader pattern of problems that could significantly impact the safety, value or functionality of the vehicle.

The Importance of Number and Nature:

The number and nature of recalls on your vehicle play a crucial role in determining the strength of your lemon law claim. A single product recall for a minor inconvenience may not be enough. However, several recalls, especially those addressing critical safety systems and requiring repeated repair attempts, can be strong evidence to support your case and hold manufacturers accountable.

The California Lemon Law is one of the most comprehensive consumer protection laws anywhere in the US.

Will a Recall Affect Your Lemon Law Claim?

Car buyers should be aware that if the recall repair effectively fixes the issue after a reasonable number of attempts by the manufacturer (as defined by California Lemon Law), it likely won't qualify for a lemon law claim.

A Vehicle Recall Strengthens Your Claim

A recall can be strong evidence for your lemon law claim if several factors are present:

  • Acknowledgement of Substantial Defect: The recall itself acknowledges a significant defect in the vehicle's design or manufacturing process.

  • Multiple Repair Failures: There have been multiple repair attempts for the same recall defect, yet the problem persists. This demonstrates the manufacturer's inability to fix the core issue.

  • Impact on Safety, Value or Functionality: The unaddressed defect continues to negatively affect the vehicle's safety, value, or functionality as defined by California Lemon Law. This could include issues that compromise driving safety, significantly reduce the car's value, or limit its intended use.

What Happens Next?

If you suspect you have a lemon on your hands, whether it is a new car or a used one, still under the manufacturer's warranty, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind.

  1. Document Everything: When dealing with potential lemon law issues, it is crucial to maintain a detailed record of everything. This includes keeping copies of all repair orders, invoices and any written communication with the manufacturer regarding the vehicle's defects and repair attempts. This documentation will be vital evidence if you pursue a lemon law claim.

  2. Understand Timelines and Requirements: California Lemon Law has specific timelines and eligibility requirements. Familiarize yourself with these details, such as the timeframe for filing a claim and the types of defects covered by the law. This knowledge will help you determine if your situation qualifies and ensure you don't miss any crucial deadlines.

  3. Consult a Lemon Law Attorney: California Lemon Law can be complex. Consulting with a qualified lemon law attorney is highly recommended. They can assess your specific situation, advise you on the legal merits of your claim, and guide you through the process of seeking compensation from the manufacturer or dealership.

Don't Get Stuck With a Lemon!

If you suspect your vehicle qualifies as a lemon due to persistent issues and failed repairs, don't hesitate to seek legal help. The Beck Law Office specializes in lemon law cases and can help you.

Our team has extensive experience holding manufacturers accountable for defective vehicles. We understand the complexities of California Lemon Law and are committed to providing personalized service and clear communication throughout the entire process.

Schedule a Consultation Today

Fill out the form on our website today and we will review your situation to determine if you have a lemon law claim. There is no obligation and it is the first step towards getting the compensation you deserve.

Don't get stuck with a lemon – take control and let us help you fight for your rights.


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