When you buy a new or used vehicle, you expect it to run as advertised by the car dealer. Unfortunately, however, a mechanical defect can arise after buying what is supposed to be a good, solid car. Millions of vehicle defects get reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) each year.
Although car manufacturers are obligated to resolve recalls, this doesn’t usually happen until numerous complaints are filed. So, it can be challenging to get a refund or repair if the problem has yet to be recalled.
Fortunately, a consumer may pursue a lemon law claim if their defect interferes with the car’s safety, use, or value while under warranty – and cannot be repaired. Each state has its own lemon law requirements and consumers may be entitled to a buyback (refund) from the manufacturer if they qualify.
Now that you know the basics of lemon law – let’s look at the five most common vehicle defects you should be aware of – and how to identify them.
1. Malfunctional Airbags
A defective airbag can fail to inflate at all, deploy with too much force, or go off at inappropriate times. All of these scenarios pose a severe threat to drivers and their passengers.
The auto manufacturer will fix your malfunctioning airbag for free if the vehicle is still under its warranty period. Yet, if they fail to repair the issue after a certain number of attempts, you may be able to pursue legal action.
Most state lemon laws allow the manufacturer a set number of chances to fix a defect before a claim gets filed. However, some states, like California, are a bit vague in what they consider a reasonable number of attempts. Manufacturers can use this as an excuse to continue to attempt repairs and avoid legal action.
So, to get the best results and avoid loopholes, it’s advised that you consult a lemon law attorney before filing a claim.
2. Faulty Seatbelts
Since seatbelts are designed to keep you and your passengers safe during a collision, faulty ones can cause severe injuries and even death.
If you notice that your seatbelt doesn’t lock properly or fails to adjust to your size, it’s essential to get it repaired quickly.
The manufacturer should fix the problem free of charge if your car is under warranty. But, again, if they fail to do so after a certain number of attempts, your next step would be to file a lemon law claim.
3. Door Latch Mechanism Issues
Door latches are responsible for holding the doors shut. If they are faulty, they allow doors to fly open while the vehicle is in motion. Obviously, this poses a serious threat to those in and out of the car, especially when traveling at high speeds.
If you discover your vehicle has this defect, you need to let the manufacturer know immediately. If they reject your complaint or are unable to fix it, consult a lemon law lawyer in your state to see if it meets the requirements of a lemon vehicle.
4. Steering Component Problems
Vehicles may also experience problems with the steering wheel that causes it to lock up or malfunction during turns and other maneuvers. When you notice significant problems with the steering wheel, it may signify that the vehicle was manufactured improperly.
To be sure, you should bring your vehicle to your dealership and let them know about the steering wheel concern. If they can’t resolve it, consulting a lemon law attorney might be your next best option.
5. Defective Braking Systems
Defective braking systems are one of the more common vehicle defects. If your vehicle is braking erratically or isn’t stopping correctly, it may have a faulty brake component. This could lead to an accident if it’s not repaired.
If a new or used vehicle displays signs of faulty brakes while under warranty, get in touch with the manufacturer or dealership. They should be able to repair it free of charge – but they may deflect the blame to you if your vehicle is used.
Not many states’ lemon law covers used vehicles – but some (including California) do if the car is under the dealer warranty. For more information on whether you qualify for a used vehicle lemon law, it’s always best to consult with an attorney.
If your vehicle has any of the above problems, you may be entitled to a buyback from the manufacturer. Yet, before pursuing a legal claim, it’s essential to check your state lemon law regulations and consult with a qualified lemon law lawyer.
The longer you wait to file a claim, the lower your chances of securing a settlement. So, if you notice a defect, it’s important to act quickly.