If you buy a car in California that's still covered by a manufacturer's warranty, and then that car doesn't perform the way the warranty said it would, you could have a lemon on your hands. Luckily, in California, you have rights if the car that you bought and relied on turns out to be a lemon. The Song-Beverly Act, also known as the Lemon Law, says that, if the manufacturer of a car isn't able to repair a defect that substantially impairs your car's use, safety, or value after a reasonable number of tries, then you can get either a replacement vehicle or a refund of your purchase price.
But what constitutes a defect that “substantially impairs” your car? Here are some examples.
One kind of defect that substantially impairs your car's safety is an airbag defect. Whether it's a defect that prevents the airbag from deploying on time, or makes the airbag comes out in a way that is shown to be more dangerous than it not coming out, at all, an airbag defect can make your vehicle significantly less safe.
Like a defective airbag, a defective seatbelt can have a huge impact in a crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seatbelts prevent 45% of deaths from car crashes, and 50% of injuries from a collision.
Because of their effectiveness in a car crash, if your seatbelt is defective and unreliable in an accident, then it can have drastic repercussions on the safety of your vehicle. While this is terrible news if you get involved in a car accident, it also means that you car is more likely to be considered a lemon under California's Lemon Law.
Electrical defects can be as simple as two wires not connecting. However, if your car dealership or manufacturer is not able to fix the problem after a reasonable number of attempts, then it's a sign that the defect is something much larger.
Problems with the electronics in your vehicle are not trivial. Many of them can have serious implications, with the potential to grow worse over time. In fact, electrical problems are the source of a significant percentage of car fires, which can be deadly not only for you but also everyone else on the road.
Because electrical defects carry such a huge risk, they are often considered something that “substantially impairs” your vehicle's safety, labeling it a lemon under California's Lemon Law and allowing you to get your money back or a replacement vehicle.
Brake and Acceleration Pedal Defects
One of the biggest things that you need to have control over while driving is your speed. If your brake or acceleration pedals are defective in some way that prevents you from having control over how fast you're going, then your driving will surely suffer, as a result. Because this “substantially impairs” your safety and the safety of other drivers on the road, California's Lemon Law often considers pedal defects a solid ground for a car being considered a lemon.
Remember that California's Lemon Law covers defects that impair your car's “safety,” “use,” and “value.” Not all defects need to be life-threatening for them to make your car a lemon that needs replacement.
A terrible paint defect can seriously cut into the value of your car, sometimes by multiple thousands of dollars. While a paint defect is not often so serious that your dealership or manufacturer is left unable to fix it after multiple tries, it can be the grounds for a replacement vehicle or the refund of your purchase price.
Because California's Lemon Law also covers defects that substantially impair the use of your car, in addition to those that impact the vehicle's safety or value, the cruise-control function of your car can make your car a lemon, too.
If one of the big reasons why you chose the car you did was to use its cruise-control features, and then those features are defective, then your use of your car could be substantially impaired. This would especially be the case if you bought the car specifically to use the cruise-control on long trips that you take on a regular basis.
Air Conditioner Defects
The state of California has one of the warmest climates in the United States. Air conditioning problems in a car are serious issues. Thankfully, California's Lemon Law recognizes this. If your car is covered by a manufacturer's warranty and the air conditioning in the vehicle doesn't work even after multiple attempts to fix the problem, it might mean your car is a lemon and needs to be replaced.
Ironically, one of the most important aspects of using your car is what you do with it when you're not using it. Being able to lock your vehicle and rest assured that it'll still be there when you get back is one of the most important aspects of owning a vehicle.
If your car's locks are defective and your dealership or manufacture can't seem to make them right, it can be the grounds for a replacement or refund under California's Lemon Law. After all, you should be able to assume that your car will not be stolen, and defective locks put this assumption to the test.
California Lemon Law Attorneys
Any one of these defects in your vehicle could be the grounds for it being labeled a lemon. Once this label has been attached to your vehicle, California's Lemon Law demands that it be replaced, or your purchase price refunded to you.
However, each of these defects requires a fact-intensive investigation to determine if it “substantially impaired” your car's use, safety, or value. You can count on your manufacturer and dealer arguing to the end that the defect did not go that far, and often need a Lemon Law attorney to prove that it did.
Get in touch with our attorneys at The Lemon Lawyer to get the experience you need to fix your ride. Contact us online or at 1-844-CAR-PROBS.