If a vehicle is defective, its owner may have recourse under both California and federal law. The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act allows a person to pursue compensation if they are sold a defective product. In California, an individual may file a lemon law claim whether the vehicle was leased or purchased outright. However, it is generally necessary to allow a manufacturer an opportunity to fix the defect before filing a claim.
California is among the state leaders in providing extensive and comprehensive consumer protection laws. However, this fact alone does not prevent predatory practices by unscrupulous business owners seeking to increase their bottom lines at the expense of their unsuspecting customers. The laws are of little value when the consumer is unaware of the fraud that is being perpetrated, and some say that the automotive industry is one of the worst offenders in this regard. Even regular, everyday transactions between some auto dealers and the purchaser or lessee of a vehicle must be carefully scrutinized.
California residents who purchase defective vehicles are granted protections under state law. A vehicle may be labeled as a lemon if it has spent more than 30 days in the shop or if four attempts have been made to repair the same issue. Only two attempts are required to fix serious issues that may render a car dangerous to operate. The defect must appear within 18 months or during the first 18,000 miles that the car is driven.
People in California who are concerned about the quality of the products they purchase should be familiar with the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. It is a federal law intended to protect consumers from misleading warranty practices, to make sure warranties are not difficult to comprehend and to allow violations to be legally enforced. While the law is meant to benefit consumers, it also unexpectedly benefits dealers as well.