Articles Posted in Car Manufacturers

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Under most state lemon laws (including Texas Lemon Law), when a consumer gets a new repurchase or replacement settlement from the car manufacturer, they are also entitled to a reimbursement for sales tax, title, license (TTL), and other relevant fees. Thereafter, car manufacturers such as Mazda and General Motors (GM) will in turn apply to the state to get those TTL fees refunded back to it. However, such is not the case in the state of Connecticut.

Chrysler (LLC), once known as DaimlerChrysler Corporation, is appealing its case to the Connecticut Supreme Court on the issue presented above. Previously, the Connecticut tax department, along with the state’s Superior Court both ruled against the private car manufacturer.

Although TTL fees may seem like small amounts to be fighting over — especially to the state Supreme Court; when you consider the aggregate costs of all TTL fees involved in lemon law buybacks to all fifty states, then the amount may significantly reach the potential million of dollars.

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In a civilian context, when you buy your new car, chances are that you will drive it on paved highways and roads — perhaps rarely on a dirt road or park it on the grass. (For example, I commute from Fort Worth to my office in downtown Dallas on a regular basis and normally drive on concrete roadways such as interstate 75 and 360). Most production cars are designed with this assumption in mind, although some are designed specifically or off-roading.

If you were to take your average economy sedan and start driving over hills and into ditches,…you would soon be in trouble. A car manufacturer would probably not be overly sympathetic if you claimed that your Kia Rio was a lemon because it experienced multiple system failures while you were creating your own path through the Amazon rain forest.

Vehicles used by the military have quite different requirements. Military vehicles need to be able to traverse unpaved paths and go cross-country. There are some vehicles that have made the transition from military to consumer use. A recent example of this is GM’s High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle HMMWV (aka Hummer). The model line was expanded for the civilian market with scaled down versions, the H2 and H3. In 2006, GM announced that it would no longer market the original full sized H1 Hummer.

Long before the Hummer, there was the Jeep. The Jeep was the prototypical army-to-civilian vehicle. The U.S. Army received its first shipment of Jeeps in 1941 and the vehicle proved instrumental in the successful outcome of the war for the Allies. In the years since, it has proved popular with civilians, spawning a long line of derivative vehicles. Now, once again, the Jeep is returning to military use.
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The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo has an EPA estimated rating of 24/34. It has a 1.6L 103 horsepower engine which gets you from 0 to 60 in a whiplash inducing 10.8 seconds. Standard equipment includes air conditioning (A/C). This vehicle can be yours for only $9,995 (base MSRP). Or — if you haggle — perhaps for a bit less. In the Houston and Austin area, that’s about all the new car you are going to get for under $10,000 (with the exception of arguably the Kia Rio). At minimum, the Aveo will be covered under the Texas lemon law in the event that there is a problem with its manufacturing.

But, cheaper cars are being produced.

Recently, Tata Motors Ltd. of Mumbai India announced that it would soon unveil a new car that would cost $2,472.18 (100,000 Rupees, as of 9/18/07). No name has been revealed yet. These will be manufactured at a plant in West Bengal.

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Mike Stegall is suing Raiford Motors, an authorized Ford dealership, for selling him a lemon F50 pickup truck. According to the pleadings that was filed in the 136th Judicial District court, Stegall alleges that the vehicle was subject to repairs for at least 10 times since it was purchased. It appears that the case is currently pending in Judge Milton Shuffield’s courtroom.

Stegall’s causes of action stems from both the Texas Lemon Law and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). Stegall is asking the court to award him damages in the cost of the truck, damages under the DTPA, and court costs.

To learn more about the suit, go here. If you are in a similar situation as Mr. Stegall, then feel free to contact my Texas lemon law office for a free case review.

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As a lemon law practice in Dallas, Texas, my office receive calls from potential clients with used or pre-owned lemon cars very often. The first question asked is whether the Texas lemon law applies to pre-own or used car cases. Unfortunately, the short answer to that question is that, generally, the Texas lemon law does not include used vehicles.

One exception to this rule is if the preowned vehicle is still covered under the car manufacturer’s existing warranty (and not the extended warranty), then the Texas Lemon Law “may” be used to force the manufacturer to repair the problem.

Specifically, section 2301.602 of the Texas Occupations Code dealing with the Regulation of Motor Vehicles and Transportation (better known as the “Texas Lemon Law”), only refers to “new motor vehicle(s).”

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Having a reliable vehicle to commute in the Dallas and Fort Worth area is essential. If you purchase a new car and it is defective, you may seek recourse under Lemon Laws or product warranty laws. However, the normal hope is that your new car will be perfect and last for years. Some people like to trade their car in every couple of years, but those who maintain their cars can save a great deal of money.

Consumer Reports writes that owners who keep their car for 15 years or 225,000 miles may save $31,000 compared to an owner who trades their car in every 5 years. Using the example of a Honda Civic and taking into account depreciation, taxes, fees, and insurance, an owner holding on to the car for 15 years would save $20,500. In addition to these savings, our hypothetical owner could make $10,300 by investing the money that would have been spent on new cars.

Consumer Reports also compiled a list of cars that are more likely to make it to 200,000 miles. Included in this list are many cars by Honda and Toyota (included are: Civic, Lexus ES, Lexus LS, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Land Cruiser). It also published a list of vehicles that were not such good bets to make it to 200K threshold. These included such popular (and pricey!) vehicles as the V8-powered Mercedes-Benz M-class, Mercedes-Benz SL, BMW 7-series, Infiniti QX56, Jaguar X-type, V8-powered Volkswagen Touareg, and the V6-powered Volvo XC90.

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Consider the danger of driving a vehicle and having it suddenly surge or lunge forward uncontrollably. This is what happened to several Toyota Prius owners recently who described their experience as an “uncontrollable acceleration.” One Prius owner stated that his lemon car “took off like a rocket.”

According to two articles, published by, despite repeated complaints and requests for repair by these owners, Toyota service centers minimized the concern and insisted that this was nothing more than “a carpet jamming the accelerator pedal or driver error.”

If this has happened only once before, then this rationale may be a plausible reason for the abnormal defect. However, if there has been numerous complaints of similar problems by different Prius owners, then either Toyota or its technicians are careless in its diagnostics, or it seems, to me, that there may be intentional misrepresentations here. This is a products liability issue.

If you happen to be in a similar situation with your lemon vehicle, it is important to do the following to preserve your rights as a consumer:

First, get everything in writing. For example, if the service manager indicates to you that this is merely driver error, then ask him to write that on the repair invoice. Thereafter, remove the carpet from your vehicle and see if the same problem reoccurs. If it does, then it would be difficult for the same service manager to negate his or her diagnostic error when you bring the vehicle in again for the same problem.
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Aside from the Texas lemon law, consumers of defective cars may file a claim against a car manufacturer through the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Lemon Law Arbitration Program. Usually, the BBB arbitration program is binding to the manufacturer and non-binding to the consumer.

This article will not discuss the benefits or disadvantages of participating in this program, as each case is different and it is best that you contact a lemon law attorney to determine which options may be best for you.

The first step in opening a claim with the BBB program is to determine if your car manufacturer participates in the arbitration program in your state. The second step is to file a claim with the BBB either by telephone or online at the BBB website.

After you have submitted your basic information, the BBB mails you a “Customer Claim Form.” You will need to complete the form and mail it back to the BBB within a certain amount of time. Thereafter, the BBB will use the information that you have provided to determine whether your vehicle is eligible to participate in the program or not – this is normally based on the current mileage on your vehicle and how long it has been since the time that you purchased the alleged lemon car.

The next step involves the BBB case handler contacting you and the manufacturer to informally resolve the “lemon dispute” on your car. Typically, the manufacturer will take on the position of denying your claim and possibly offering you an extended warranty. If you do not accept the extended warranty offer, then you may request or move to have your claim proceed to arbitration.
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The owner of a Porsche with a defective spoiler deployment system was awarded $226,160 – plus he gets to keep the car. (Notice: I did not handle this case. Please read further).

This case involves Bruce Tammi’s 2003 Porsche 911 Turbo coupe. Mr Tammi originally leased his Porsche. During the first year of the lease, Tammi brought the vehicle in for repairs six times for a spoiler which would not properly deploy and retract. After making $57,458 in lease payments (and having experienced this problem) he opted to buy the car for $75,622.

Tammi, himself a lawyer, undertook lemon law proceedings against Porsche. At trial, in Federal court, Porsche unsuccessfully argued that the malfunctioning spoiler represented only an inconvenience and did not impair the use or operation of the vehicle. Tammi prevailed at trial and a jury awarded him $26,000. Judge Charles Clevert Jr, the U.S. District Court judge who presided over the trial, determined that the jury’s award was improper under Wisconsin’s lemon law. He changed the award to $266,160. Judge Clevert arrived at this figure by taking the total amount that Tammi had paid – both in lease payments and in purchase price, and doubling that value. Clevert stated that “Tammi’s receipt of double damages plus his retention of the car together do not seem unreasonably harsh in light of the purposes of the lemon law statute. If they appear too harsh for Porsche, Porsche should direct its concerns to the state legislature.”

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A Mercedes-Benz car dealership is suing its own manufacturer over a defective lemon car. Plaintiff Mark Johnston, co-owner of the dealership, alleged that the Mercedes-Benz AMG CLK-GTR Limited Edition Roadster (retail at 2.5 million and bought at 1.7 million) is a defective vehicle, wrought with problems.

Specifically, some of the alleged defects in the car include: the illumination of the oil light, improper shifting, failed hydraulic jack system, and unglued car windows. As of the date of writing this blog, Mercedes claimed that they cannot refund the vehicle.

For more information, go here.

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