When a consumer’s vehicle is out of warranty (no longer under the vehicle manufacturer’s original warranties) it is possible that a consumer in California may still be protected under California lemons laws under certain circumstances.
1) Was the vehicle bought at a California dealership?
2) Was the vehicle bought, even if used, with the vehicle manufacturer basic, or extended warranties (powertrain or others)?
3) Was the vehicle repaired at least once under one of the vehicle manufacturers applicable original warranties?
There is a provision in the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act that specifies that “The warranty period will be extended for the number of whole days that the product has been out of the buyer’s hands for warranty repairs. If a defect exists within the warranty period, the warranty will not expire until the defect has been fixed.
The warranty period will also be extended if the warranty repairs have not been performed due to delays caused by circumstances beyond the control of the buyer, or if the warranty repairs did not remedy the defect and the buyer notifies the manufacturer or seller of the failure of the repairs within 60 days after they were completed. If, after a reasonable number of attempts, the defect has not been fixed, the buyer may return this product for a replacement or a refund subject, in either case, to deduction of a reasonable charge for usage.
This time extension does not affect the protections or remedies the buyer has under other laws.” CA Civil Code 1793.1 (a) (2), emphasis added. One would think, then, that if a defect exists within the warranty period, [and] the warranty will not expire until the defect has been fixed, that the vehicle’s original warranty will continue to be good (will not expire) as long as the vehicle was repaired under the manufacturer’s original warranty at least once (to find out whether the defect exists within the warranty period), and the defect continues to exist after the one repair, as long as the defect relates to the original one, or is the same.
Nevertheless, in Donlen v. Ford Motor Company, (2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 138 (Donlen), the vehicle manufacturer contended that post-warranty repairs should not be admitted into evidence at trial. The court in Donlen disagreed. The vehicle manufacturer “argue[d] [that] allowing evidence of post-warranty repairs extends the term of its warranty to whatever limit an expert is willing to testify. [The court] disagree[d]. Evidence that a problem was fixed for a period of time but reappears at a later date is relevant to determining whether a fundamental problem in the vehicle was ever resolved.” The court in Donlen even went further and stated that “Indeed, that a defect first appears after a warranty has expired does not necessarily mean the defect did not exist when the product was purchased. Post-warranty repair evidence may be admitted on a case by case basis where it is relevant to show the vehicle was not repaired to conform to the warranty during the warranty’s existence.” Id.
Rodriguez v. FCA US, LLC, 77 Cal.App.5th 209
Recently, a California Court of Appeal held that “[B]ased on all of these textual reasons, we conclude the phrase ‘other motor vehicle sold with a manufacturer’s new car warranty’ unambiguously refers to cars that come with a new or full express warranty.” Rodriguez v. FCA US, LLC, 77 Cal.App.5th 209.
Given this recent California Court of Appeal ruling, it is extremely important, now more than ever, for California consumers to contact a knowledgeable California lemon law attorney before embarking alone on a quest against the vehicle manufacturer to repurchase their vehicle to try to get a refund for their lemon.
Do you have a vehicle that has had post-warranty repairs and you may not know whether those repairs are relevant to a lemon law claim in California? Do not navigate these waters alone, contact a competent lemon law attorney.
Luis Aguirre California Lemon Law Attorney 26060 Acero Suite 111
Mission Viejo, CA 92691 Telephone: 949.342.6199.