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Lemon Law and Technology: How Modern Cars Impact Lemon Claims

Modern technology has helped make cars safer, but new cars are also more complicated than ever. Cars are now essentially computers on wheels, and digital technologies can malfunction just as easily as any mechanical part. In turn, these new technologies can substantially impact claims under the California lemon law.

The California lemon law lawyers at The Lemon Firm believe that every driver in the state deserves to know their legal rights if they buy a car that does not work as promised. This blog provides essential information on how new innovations in car technology can affect a lemon law claim and how we can safeguard your rights in these situations.

The Basics of the California “Lemon Law”

Before digging into how new technologies in cars can impact a lemon law claim, it helps to understand your rights under the California lemon law. The formal name for this law is the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and it guarantees certain rights to anyone who buys consumer goods in California, including cars.

The Song-Beverly Act says that every consumer good sold in California has an implied warranty of merchantability and an implied warranty of fitness. In plain English, that means every car is assumed to work as promised, is suitable for its intended purpose, and is of the same quality as similar products. Therefore, if your car needs repeated visits to a repair shop to address a crucial defect and it doesn’t get fixed, you can demand a refund or a new vehicle from the manufacturer.

However, it’s worth noting that the California Lemon law does not apply in all situations. For one thing, it only applies to defects covered under the manufacturer’s factory warranty, meaning it does not apply to aftermarket parts or modifications. Second, the lemon law is primarily meant to help owners of new vehicles, typically those less than 18 months old and with fewer than 18,000 miles driven (though there are exceptions). Finally, you must give the manufacturer a “reasonable” number of attempts to address the defect, though the exact number of attempts depends on the defect.

Modern Car Technologies That Lead to Lemon Law Claims

As automakers have implemented more digital technologies in newer vehicles, these new systems can malfunction, placing drivers in danger or rendering a car unusable. Some modern car technologies that may lead to a lemon law claim include:

  • Infotainment Systems: These are the heart of a car’s entertainment and navigation services. When they malfunction, they can turn a smooth ride into a frustrating puzzle of missed turns and silent commutes.
  • Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS): These systems, like autopilot or lane-keeping assist, aim to make driving safer. However, when they falter, they can compromise safety, leading to potential lemon law claims.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Batteries: The powerhouse of electric cars, these batteries are crucial for performance. A faulty battery not only reduces range but can also sideline an EV entirely.
  • Transmission Systems in Hybrid Vehicles: These sophisticated systems blend electric and traditional power. When they break, they can cause erratic behavior and reduced efficiency, making them prime subjects for lemon law claims.
  • Keyless Start Systems: Although these were designed for convenience, a malfunction in a keyless start system can prevent the car from starting, turning convenience into a significant inconvenience.

How Technology in New Cars Affects California Lemon Law Claims

In some ways, the type of defect doesn’t matter at all in a lemon law claim. All that matters is whether the car has repeatedly malfunctioned in spite of efforts to repair it and whether the manufacturer’s factory warranty applies. That said, it can be harder to prove a lemon law claim involving new technology in cars because there are fewer past examples of successful claims to refer to. Furthermore, because digital technology in cars often interacts with basic mechanical systems, it can be difficult to prove the underlying cause.

The smartest move you can make in these cases is to hire an experienced California lemon law attorney. They can investigate your car’s issue, gather evidence to support your claim and represent you in legal proceedings against the car’s manufacturer. Call The Lemon Firm today or complete our contact form for a free consultation.

About the Author
Sepehr Daghighian is a partner with CCA that is well-versed in all aspects of lemon-law litigation. A 2005 graduate of Loyola Law School, Mr. Daghighian has been practicing litigation throughout the state of California for over 13-years. In this time, Mr. Daghighian has advocated on behalf of California consumers in hundreds of lemon law cases throughout our great state. Mr. Daghighian has also successfully tried numerous such cases to verdict in both Federal and State Court.