Some of the most notorious lemons in automotive history were manufactured in the 1970s and ‘80s. Think Yugo, AMC Gremlin, Chevy Citation, and the infamous Ford Pinto, which had the unfortunate distinction of bursting into flames during rear-end collisions. While that may have served as easy fodder for late night comedians, it was no laughing matter for the car owners.
Unfortunately, manufacturers still produce lemons. And no auto manufacturer is immune.
Why do “good” automakers produce inferior cars (i.e., lemon cars)?
All auto manufacturers, even the most highly rated ones are vulnerable to the same mistakes that lead to vehicles becoming lemons. The first is design flaw. Take the Yugo 45, for example. Made in the 1980s in Yugoslavia, the Yugo was poorly designed and made. The electrical system often failed, parts would fall off for no reason, and the engines were prone to exploding. In fact, many insurance companies refused to cover these vehicles. In a present-day example, the Jeep Cherokee has been riddled with numerous complaints about airbag deployment, a faulty exhaust manifold design that increases risk of fire, and radio software issues that allow third-party access to networked vehicle control systems.
Another reason auto makers turn out lemons from the assembly line is bad parts. The American-made Chrysler K-Car, also manufactured in the ‘80s, sold more than a million units of each model in the first year but was plagued with a host of issues, including knobs falling off, faulty transmissions, and rapidly rusting bodies. More recently, complaints about the Dodge Challenger concern the driver’s side airbag inflated curtain that could have a loose or missing rear mounting bolt which could affect deployment and increase risk of injury.
The third most common reason vehicles become lemons is due to human error. Research has shown that human factors are responsible for as much as 75-80% of factory errors. The automotive industry is no exception, from human errors in design to mistakes on the manufacturing floor. Vehicles are complex products with many moving parts, literally, that must be designed and assembled to perfection, consistently day after day.
Reputable car manufacturers can still fall from grace
When researching a particular make or model of a car, you might find one or more with an impressive record. But with each new model year, automakers are vulnerable to human errors and quality control issues. Sometimes manufacturers even change a specific part with a different or lower cost within the same model year, increasing the potential for problems. Is it any wonder approximately 1% of new cars have recurring, unfixable problems and are deemed lemons?
While any automaker can produce a dud, some have become repeat offenders. For example, the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Ford Escape have consistently had problems over the years and are top contenders for having the most lemon complaints.
Fortunately, all 50 states in the U.S. have some form of New Car Lemon Laws, including California. If you are experiencing recurring, unfixable issues with a new vehicle, consulting a California lemon law attorney is your first step to righting a manufacturing wrong.
Think you have a claim? Get a free, no-obligation case evaluation from Sotera L. Anderson, California Lemon Law Attorney, here or call 1-855-96-LEMON, or (858) 247-0050.