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Valencia Lemon Law Blog

New study announces vehicles with most lemon complaints

The highly respected Autowise.com announced its list of eight recent vehicle models with the highest number of lemon complaints. Compiled by the site's staff, this is the first annual list. The site defines "lemon" as cars that have been out of service at least three or four times. Along with the staff's picks, Autowise.com also crunched complaint data from the 500-plus forums it maintains.

  1. Chevrolet Cruze: This car has had a number of issues in recent years. These include the steering wheel detaching from the column and oil leaks in the 2011 models. Those manufactured from 2009-2011 had steering issues, transmission shift linkage problems and fuel tanks coming loose in crashes.
  2. GMC Acadia: This model has a number of electrical issues, including loss of power and faulty dashboard warnings (including "service engine soon" and "check engine"), fuses burning out and headlights not turning on. It also has repeated problems of engines surging and stalling, transmission problems, traction control issues and suspension issues. The cooling system overheats and leaks.
  3. Chevrolet Silverado: The manufacturer of this popular pick-up recalled the 2016 model because the location of the mounting stud for the air bag sensor and diagnostic module. The location leads to fractures that allow water to enter the system, which leads to malfunction and faulty deployment.
  4. Dodge Challenger: Dodge recalled the 2015 edition of this classic muscle car because of instrument panel malfunction, which causes gauges to wildly fluctuate. The airbag light also remains lit. Driver's side airbag may have issues involving the mounting bolt. The radio software is vulnerable to third party access to certain vehicle control systems.
  5. Ford Focus: The model years 2008-2013 have problems with check engine light and other warning lights as well as loss of power. The engine stalls or does not start. There can be brake, suspension, alignment and power steering problems.
  6. Ford Escape: The model years 2008-2013 also have check engine light malfunctions and loss of power. The engine stalls or does not start. There can be brake, suspension and alignment issues as well as transmission problems.
  7. Jeep Wrangler: This model has ongoing issues with leaks through doors, windows, vents and roof. There is vibration and noise at high speeds and while braking. Dashboard lights sometimes do not turn off.
  8. Jeep Cherokee: There are concerns about reliable airbag deployment. The power liftgate short circuits due to water leaking into the controls. Software issues enable third parties to access control systems. There is an air conditioner design flaw that may cause vehicle fire.

How does lemon law buyback work?

Lemon law buyback vehicles are usually so badly flawed that manufacturers deem them unfit to be on the road. In their eyes, the vehicles are unsafe and not of sufficient value, so manufacturers “buyback” these vehicles from the consumer.

While the vehicle makers may initiate the buyback after a reasonable number of attempts to fix it, the consumer may need to prompt them to do so. Minus fees for mileage driven between first repair attempt and final buyback, manufacturers must refund the consumers’ payments (and full amount of a car loan), prorated registration, taxes or fees, as well as incidental expenses like rental cars or tow expenses. Buybacks even include money to cover reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

Spotting a car with flood damage

The used car market is inundated by flood cars damaged by major storms and hurricanes. While Southern California has not been hit by hurricanes like our friends on the Southeast and Gulf Coast, there is still reason to be vigilant. The fact is that 50 percent of cars damaged in floods and/or heavy precipitation end up back on the road, and not necessarily in the same state where the initial damage occurred.

Scenarios that should cause red flags

Where to take your car for repairs

No one mechanic or shop is the best solution for all vehicle repairs. Obviously, there are people who do body work verses ones who fix that weird sound your car makes on the highway. Warranty-related work is best handled by the dealership, but an oil change does not need to be. Sometimes you even find a good local mechanic or a neighbor that works on cars.

The general goal is to get the work done in a timely fashion, for a reasonable price and, of course, in a way that effectively resolves the problem. The issue may dictate where it goes, but here are general guidelines for the three main groups of mechanics.

Can lemon law claims be made for used cars?

California's lemon law provides important protections to individuals who buy new vehicles in the state. What about used vehicles? Can individuals who buy used cars that end up having serious defects make lemon law claims?

It depends on the situation. There are certain circumstances in which the state's lemon law does apply to used cars. In these situations, lemon law claims can be a possibility when serious mechanical problems arise.

Different defects that lead to Lemon Law

When you purchase a new car, every function should be operating as smoothly as possible. The dealer who sells you the vehicle has a responsibility to check every vehicle before the purchase. Failing to do so could lead to unnecessary costs or safety hazards for the driver.

Regardless if your car is brand new or slightly used, there should not be any major problems in the first place. It is frustrating to have to pay additional costs for damage repair in something you just got. It's even more frustrating if your mechanic makes those repairs but the car still won't work right. Here are a couple of problems with your vehicle that might mean that you have bought a lemon.