CAA – The Lemon Firm is a leading consumer advocacy practice serving clients throughout California. If your vehicle has been the subject of a recall or is experiencing defects, it is important to know your rights. Our lemon law attorneys have the skills and experience to protect your interests and can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
When is an auto recall necessary?
An automobile may be recalled voluntarily by the manufacturer or required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency that is responsible for auto safety and investigating defects. A recall becomes necessary when (1) a motor vehicle or equipment does not comply with a federal safety standard and (2) a defect poses a risk to vehicle safety.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards establish performance requirements for parts and equipment that affect a vehicles’ safety and that protect drivers and passengers from injuries and fatalities. Examples of safety-related defects include:
- Steering defects — Problems with steering components (e.g. steering column, power steering, hydraulics, wiring) can cause loss of vehicle control
- Fuel system defects — Defective fuel pumps, gas tanks, or fuel filtration systems can result in auto fires, increasing the risk of serious burn injuries
- Tire defects — Tread separation, ruptures, tire de-treading, faulty tire stems and blowouts can cause a vehicle to lose contact with the road surface and lead to a collision
- Airbag defects — Airbags that deploy unexpectedly, fail to deploy or explode can cause serious injuries to drivers and passengers
- Seatbelt defects — A defective seatbelt or latch can cause serious injuries to vehicle occupants in a collision and also compromise the safety of child car seats
- Computer defects — Internal computers manage many aspects of modern vehicles, such as cruise control, and a computer defect can cause a vehicle to accelerate or decelerate unexpectedly, creating a serious road hazard
- Wiring defects — Vehicles are equipped with extensive wiring that control electronic systems, and a defect that causes headlights to shut off at night, for example, can pose a danger for the driver and nearby vehicles
- Seat defects — A defect seatback can cause the seat to collapse in an accident, causing serious injuries to vehicle occupants, particularly those in the back seat
A recall can affect a small number of vehicles or even hundreds of thousands. Although automobile manufacturers are continually improving vehicle safety to boost sales and encourage brand loyalty, enforcing your rights if your car has been recalled can be complicated. The best way to protect your interests and your safety is to contact the legal team at CAA – The Lemon Firm.
The Vehicle Recall Process in California
A recall begins once a vehicle defect has been discovered. Either the manufacturer will discover a defect and issue a recall on its own or consumers encounter a problem and file a complaint with the dealer, the manufacturer or the NHTSA. Typically, manufacturers will issue a recall voluntarily because it makes them look better in the eyes of consumers than if the government orders a recall. At the same time, the NHTSA may initiate the process by asking the manufacturer to issue a “voluntary” recall.
All consumers who purchased the affected vehicle should receive a recall notice. Automobile manufacturers are legally required to notify registered owners in a letter that provides specific details about the defect and instructions about how to get the vehicle or equipment repaired.
What are the remedies for a recalled vehicle in California?
Under federal law, manufacturers are required to provide affected consumers with a free recall remedy in a timely fashion. The manufacturer is allowed to choose the remedy, however, and there are three options, depending on the defect:
- Repair the defect-free of charge (common for auto defects that are small or easily fixed)
- Replace the vehicle free of charge
- Refund the purchase price, minus depreciation
It is important to note that refunds are only available when the entire vehicle is recalled. Equipment manufacturers are only required to repair or replace defective parts or equipment. In addition, none of the foregoing remedies cover any injuries a driver or passenger may have sustained due to a safety-related defect, in which case it is still possible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer to recover damages.
Contact an Experienced California Auto Recall and Defect Attorney
Despite the fact that automakers are required by law to issue recalls for safety defects and provide consumers with available remedies, having your vehicle repaired in a timely fashion can be complicated, especially if the recall involves a large number of vehicles and needed parts are in short supply. Additionally, the manufacturer may not be able to repair the defects. That’s where CAA-The Lemon Firm comes in.
Our legal team is well-versed in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, federal warranty law and the California lemon law. While auto recalls are frequently issued for safety-related defects, your vehicle may also have a defect that affects its performance or value, such as vehicle vibrations, noises, peeling paint, leaking sunroofs, and warped dashboards.
Regardless of the type of vehicle defect, our experienced lemon law attorneys have the skills and experience to enforce your rights. Because the state’s lemon law allows you to recover attorneys’ fees, we only get paid if we win compensation for you. Please contact our office today for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-FIRM.