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Common Vehicle Defects--Lemon Law

Everyone wants a car that is in perfect operating condition since we depend so much on our vehicles to get us to work, to drive the kids to school, shop and for any other activity that requires travel from short to long distances. Nothing is more frustrating, or frightening in some cases, then to suffer a breakdown on the highway or to have your car suddenly accelerate, fail to stop when braking, suffer a blowout, have a seat belt fail to lock or a seat to collapse.

Auto defects that can substantially decrease the value of your car or pose a safety risk include:

  • Seat belt malfunctions

A design or manufacturing flaw can cause a seatbelt to fail to lock. Retractor failure and torn webbing can also cause a seatbelt to not work properly.

  • Brake failure

Your brakes can fail at any time from defects in the brake line or of the anti-lock system, drum failure, hydraulic reservoir or ABS. Fluid leaks are also responsible for brake failures.

  • Tire blowout

You do not want to lose control of your car from a blowout at 70 miles per hour that can cause rollovers in cars like an SUV. Tires can fail from manufacturing flaws, defects in design, adhesion failure, shredding and tread separation.

  • Airbag deployment

Airbags have been found to not deploy on time or at all in a collision; or they may open when no collision has occurred and while the car is in operation leading to tragic results.

  • Unintended acceleration

A defective electronic throttle system can lead to sudden acceleration at any time.

  • Door latch failure

A flawed door latch can result in the car door opening without warning.

  • Car seats

In a collision, a car seat may collapse either forward or backward resulting in severe spinal injuries even in a moderate accident.

  • Steering components

On locked steering components or because of an electrical issue, you may suddenly lose control of your car.

  • Crashworthiness

These defects can stem from poorly place or designed fuel systems that rupture and catch fire in a collision to structural design failure where the car roof is crushed or the window glass blows out.


Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act

If you have a vehicle defect in a new car under warranty that is unable to be fixed after a reasonable number of attempts, you may have recourse under California’s consumer protection law, or the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. The auto defect must be one that significantly impairs the vehicle’s value or is one that can cause serious bodily injury or death. If so, you are entitled to a replacement vehicle or return of your purchase price less the value of your use. You are also entitled to towing costs, license fees and taxes associated with the car.

Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

If you have a used car or one that does not come under Song-Beverly, you may bring a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a federal law. If the defect cannot be repaired after 3 attempts, you can recover the difference between the car’s Blue Book value in excellent condition versus the value of your car.

Product Liability Claim

A vehicle defect that causes an injury is a product liability claim. To have an actionable claim, you must prove:

  • the vehicle design was unreasonably dangerous;
  • there was a flaw in the manufacture of the product;
  • any warnings or instructions regarding the car or the product was inadequate and led to the injury

Most auto defects can be repaired for free by the dealer or manufacturer or you may have to bring a claim to get a replacement car or other value and expenses. If an auto defect caused an serious injury or death, you need a California product liability attorney to bring an injury or wrongful death claim.