Secret Warranties, Recalls, and Lemons

Buying a new or even a used car is a big financial decision for most of us because cars are not exactly cheap. In fact, most of us have to save for quite a while before we are able to come up with the down payment that we need for a new car; this means that we have to give up comforts that money could buy us for the sake of putting it away in the hope of buying a car later on. Most of us see this as a necessary sacrifice because a car is absolutely necessary for everything that we have to do, especially for those of us who live in somewhat remote places where public transportation is not really an option to get around. People in such places have to rely on a car on a daily basis in order to get to work, take the kids to school, go grocery shopping, go to different kinds of appointments, run errands, and other important things; not having a car in good working condition can make life very complicated under these circumstances. 

So when those of us who have such a great need for a car finally go to a dealership to purchase a car that we will need to use day in and day out, we expect it to be in perfect working order. Unfortunately, sometimes things do not turn out that way and consumers end up having to deal with secret warranties, recalls, and lemons. But consumers who end up with a car that is not in proper working have a few options to have them repaired or exchanged, including being able to consult with a lemon law attorney about their case.

About Secret Warranties

Generally speaking, dealerships want to avoid any problems or issues that could make them look negative in the eyes of consumers and harm future sales. When a car manufacturer becomes aware of a particular defect in one of its models they sometimes respond by contacting all the dealerships that sell that model to let them know about it and tell them to fix the defect without any cost having to be paid for it by car owners. What happens is the manufacturer will extend the factory warranty for particular defects and repairs.  The problem is that while the dealers know, not all consumers know because the manufacturers do not necessarily advertise this extended factory warranty. This type of situation is referred to as a “secret warranty.” So, consumers will think their warranty has expired, when it really has not, and instead of taking their car to the dealer for a free repair, they take it to a mechanic and have to pay for the repair.  

If you have a problem with your vehicle, before taking your car to a mechanic for repairs, double check to see if the manufacturer extended the warranty.  You can take the car to the dealer and ask. You can call the manufacturer’s 1-800 number and ask. You might want to do a quick google search and see if something comes up.  You can call a lemon law attorney and see if they know. You can even check with NHTSA or maybe even visit websites such as SaferCar.gov which can yield information about safety defects and other recalls for vehicles. 

Vehicle Recalls

One of the worst things that can happen to car manufacturers is having to recall cars because of the cost that is involved; in fact, recall costs are estimated to be in the billions on a yearly basis and that, of course, can heavily affect manufacturers’ profits and even put them critically in the red. Unfortunately for them, sometimes car defects are so severe that they have no choice but to publicize those defects to the general public and even contact car owners directly to deal with the issue before there are serious and even fatal accidents. You might be thinking that car manufacturers might be tempted to hide any defects that their cars might have to avoid losing so much money and, while that might happen from time to time, it is definitely not a good idea. Recalls definitely cost car manufacturers a lot of money and even causes them to look incompetent and unreliable to consumers, but that is much preferable to a lot of fatal and non-fatal accidents that might result from car defects and the even costlier lawsuits and government fines that would follow. If you hear about a recall for your vehicle or are directly notified about it, it is very important that you follow instructions to the letter.

Lemons

Anyone who has ever purchased a car, or has begun to look into doing so, has heard about lemons. There are various things that can make a car a “lemon.” No one wants to be sold a lemon; this is one of the biggest fears that people have when looking for a car. Of course, not all cars that happen to have defects are lemons, that depends on how severe the defect is. For example, if a car has a bad steering wheel, transmission, or engine, those are substantial defects that affect how the vehicle operates and how safe it is to be on the road. But, if the issue is that the radio sometimes does not work, that is just not enough. 

However, merely having a defect does not make the car a lemon…just yet. There have to be a number of repair attempts to correct the issue; if the substantial defect cannot be fixed after several attempts, the car may be considered a lemon, and the owner has a right to a refund, a replacement vehicle, or receive an acceptable cash settlement. Some car dealerships and manufacturers will want to solve this issue as quickly and quietly as possible since they don’t want negative press that can cost them future business and profits, but others are not so quick to do the right thing. 

Anyone who suspects that they have been sold a lemon should deal with the issue as quickly as possible and keep records of everything such as the purchase contract, repair records, videos, photographs, and other documentation about the problems. If neither the dealership nor the manufacturer are willing or able to fix the issue, he or she should contact a lemon law attorney as soon as possible.