Posted On: November 30, 2007

Autopilot SUV isn't a Texas lemon, but a winner of a robot car competition.

Almost less than four weeks before Thanksgiving, the Department of Defense (DOD) sponsored a robot car race. The winning robot car was an overly-accessorized Chevrolet Tahoe sports utility vehicle (SUV) with a brain of its own and the ability to drive itself on various roads and terrains.

Suffice to say, this robot SUV, unlike most of the other SUV cases I have handled, is clearly not a lemon. ...At least not yet.

The vehicle was able to drive on its own without human intervention for approximately six hours for sixty miles. I must say, I am thoroughly impressed, because my recent road trip from Dallas to Houston, Texas was only 4 hours and it was quite a long and stressful drive. Having an affordable consumer friendly robot car that takes you to your desired destinations might be such a far-fetched notion any longer.

The vehicle, named "Boss" and designed by the folks from Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburg, has been described as a super soccer mom because it "has a place to be -- aggressive but safe."

The competition is held annually and the prize for winning the competition is 2 million dollars. For more information, go here.

Posted On: November 28, 2007

Update on Australia's upcoming lemon law

Last month, I compared the current Texas Lemon Law with Australia's upcoming lemon law and also provided information on how Australia's new lemon law invites feedback from the Australian public.

This morning, I received notice of a public hearing at the Wangaratta (Australia) forum yesterday, where consumers and the public are being asked to provide input and ideas of what requirements to include and exclude in the lemon law for new cars.

So far, it seems like Consumer Affairs Minister, Tony Robinson is doing a great job of investigating the issues surrounding the responsibly of drafting a car lemon law that would be beneficial to the people it is intended to help, consumers. At the forum, Mr. Robinson states that a motor car is the second largest purchase that Victorians make. He also mentions that currently in Australia, most car manufacturers are only required to repair defects, not replace or refund broken cars.

Posted On: November 26, 2007

Texas lemon law for wheelchairs

As an attorney who frequently handles Texas lemon law cases, I often receive calls from potential clients regarding lemon law coverage for non-vehicles such as computers, electronics, and other consumer household items.

Unfortunately, at this time, the Texas lemon law does not extend to non-vehicle related items (other state and federal consumer warranty laws may help you instead). One alternative is to look up the dealer or supplier of the wheelchair and file a Better Business Bureau claim (BBB) against the people who made or sold the wheelchair.

Interestingly, this morning, I came across a very interesting article today regarding lemon laws for wheelchairs, but only if you purchased the wheelchair within the state of New Jersey. The "wheelchair lemon law" was enacted a little over ten years ago to protect NJ residents from manufacturers of defective lemon wheelchairs.

It is important to note that this law only applies to wheelchair manufacturers and not suppliers. The article further goes into detail about what the wheelchair purchaser (plaintiff) went through before they were able to settle the case out of court.

If I have a wish list when it comes to the ability to amend or modify the current Texas lemon law, I would change it to include additional consumer items, such as wheelchairs, consumer safety equipment, limited appliances, and some electronic devices that costs above a specific amount.

Posted On: November 19, 2007

Essential documents to bring at the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Arbitration or the Texas lemon law administrative hearing

Regardless of whether you are scheduled to attend either the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Arbitration or the Texas lemon law administrative hearing (in order to get a lemon vehicle buyback or replacement), it is important to be prepared with essential documents that will help you win your case.

Before proceeding further, I must caution you that although I am an attorney who concentrates my practice to Texas lemon law related cases, that the information found here is not and should not be treated as legal advice. The reason is because every case, regardless of how similar, is different. Therefore, this information is simply a public service presentation and you should contact a Texas lemon law attorney as soon as possible in the event that you have recently purchased a new lemon car.

Because both of the above-mentioned programs generally do not have an attorney fee shifting provision that requires the car manufacturer to pay for your attorney fees if you prevail -- having an attorney represent you in these hearing can be cost prohibitive. Under Texas lemon law, the only time the attorney fee shifting can be invoked by the consumer is when the automobile manufacturer is represented by an attorney at the hearing.

Documentation is key at the hearing. You must have written proof that your car meets the rebuttable presumption of the program. For example, if you are arguing that your car is a lemon because it has been subject to repairs for the illumination of the check engine light, then having for documented repair invoices issued by the service center will solidify your case, rather than relying on the arbitrator or administrative judge to take your word for it.

Continue reading " Essential documents to bring at the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Arbitration or the Texas lemon law administrative hearing " »

Posted On: November 15, 2007

Nationwide lemon car tracking system/database

After over a decade (since 1992) of Congress' passage of a nationwide database that tracks lemon and stolen cars, the tracking system still remains to be completely implemented.

The Justice Department, the governmental body responsible for overseeing the program, cites that the primary reason for non-implementation is money. The Justice Department further states that it may cost about $11 million dollars to create and manage such a robust interstate database.

The database is part of the Anti Car Theft Act and is intended to track cars and trucks based on its' vehicle identification number (VIN). The database will include comprehensive information about a vehicle's lemon status, whether it is a stolen vehicle or not, and etc. The goal of having such a database is to control lemon-car laundering and to provide businesses and consumers with accurate information about a vehicle's history.

Currently, the database has been partially implemented in 9 states. Namely in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Virginia and Washington. Texas has yet to be included in this database.

Under Texas lemon law, if a vehicle has been repurchased or replaced via the Texas Department of Transportation's (DOT) lemon law program, then the dealership is required to make appropriate disclosures about the lemon status of the vehicle. However, if the case has been settled outside of the program (for example, via a lawsuit), then it arguably may not require such disclosures.

For more information about the nationwide lemon car database, go here.

Posted On: November 12, 2007

Texas Department of Transportation's (DOT) Texas Lemon Law Public Service Announcement (PSA)

While driving through Austin, Texas and listening to the radio in my Toyota Rav4 several months ago, I heard a public service announcement (PSA) about the "Texas Lemon Law". Apparently, the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT), the administrative body that is responsible for adjudicating Texas Lemon Law claims between the consumer and car manufacturers, paid local Austin radio stations to inform the public about the law and their legal rights...

The jingle, mixed with male vocals and a guitar being played in the background, goes as follows:

"If your car ... won't go ...
It's a lemon. It's a lemon.
But you should not despair ...
over having it repaired ...
the Texas Lemon Law is here"

Although I am intrigued that the Texas DOT is placing these PSAs in local city radios stations, I wish that they would also inform consumers of the deadlines to filing a claim under the Texas Lemon Law. Too often, I witness car buyers being victims to missing the deadline/statute of limitations.

For more information about the PSA, go here.

Posted On: November 7, 2007

General Motors (GM) to incur a $39 billion charge

Although not directly related to Texas Lemon Law, it indirectly will affect the way that GM negotiates future lemon law claims for settlement. This morning, GM posted its largest quarterly net loss primarily due to a $39 billion charge related to unclaimed tax credits.

In a nutshell, General Motors reported a net loss of $1.6 billion ($2.80 per share). Other reasons that attributed to the loss includes losses in GM's other financially related companies such as GMAC and ResCap.

GM is currently considered the largest automaker in the United States. In this quarter, GM's auto revenue reached $43.1 billion and it sold $2.39 million dollars worth of cars and trucks. For more information, go here.

Posted On: November 5, 2007

Texas lemon law deadline or statute of limitation (SOL)

The single most important information that consumers need to know about the Texas lemon law is the deadline to filing a timely claim. Unfortunately, the law does not require car dealers or manufacturers to affirmatively disclose this information. Therefore, new car buyers often find themselves ineligible for the Texas lemon law because they rely on the dealer's promise that the car is fixed and have waited to long to assert their rights.

Under Texas lemon law, a consumer must open a case with the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) within 24 months from the automobile's date of purchase or within 24,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Please note that there is a 6 months grace period after the expiration of the deadline, but such grace period is very difficult to assess.

It is recommended that if you suspect that you have a lemon car, that you contact a Texas lemon law attorney as soon as possible -- or, at minimum, open a claim with the DOT immediately.

Posted On: November 1, 2007

Chrysler will probably reduce its model line to be more competitive

Recently, the new CEO of Chrysler, LLC, Bob Nardelli, has hinted that he intends to reduce five of Chrysler's vehicle lineup. There are numerous speculation as to which models will meet its doom. However, suspicion is placed on the Pacifica, Dakota, Commander, and Compass.

As a lemon law attorney who handles defective car cases on a daily basis throughout the state of Texas, I personally would like to see the Chrysler 300 meet its fate on the guillotine. Don't get me wrong, the car looks great, but there has been so many known issues with it.

Asked why Chrysler is eliminating some of its models, the company answers that several models overlap each other and has arguably self-competed/cannabilized against each other.