Q: At what point is a car considered a lemon and you are allowed to return it?
Kathy Furtado, Hollister
A: A recent column about a woman whose minivan inexplicably stalled led to a flood of similar complaints. But first, we need to hear more from Kathy.
Q: My daughter purchased a new Ford Escape SE in March 2019 from the Ford store in Morgan Hill. By February, her check- engine light was on and the car was idling rough. She took the car back to the dealership and Ford kept the car for 12 days, removing the entire engine and repairing the engine head. They did provide a rental for her.
It is now September and this exact same problem has reared its ugly, defective head again. Her car will be in the shop again for 10 days to two weeks. The entire engine will again be removed and worked on.
Both repairs are under warranty, but that is not providing much assurance that she will ever have a reliable car again.
Are there lemon law attorneys?
A: There are many. A vehicle is presumed to be a “lemon” if, within 18 months of the vehicle’s delivery to the buyer or 18,000 miles on the odometer:
- Two attempts or more have been made by the manufacturer to repair a warranty problem that could result in death or serious injury.
- The manufacturer has attempted to repair the same warranty problem at least four times.
- The car has been out of service for 30 days or more for repair to warranty problems.
If your car qualifies as a lemon, the manufacturer has the responsibility of either replacing your vehicle or refunding the purchase price.
If your manufacturer refuses or unreasonably delays doing either of the above, you can go to arbitration to resolve the matter. Keep records of all the time you’ve lost from work, time the vehicle has been in the shop, and the exact nature of any problems.
Before calling your car a lemon, here’s another idea:
Q: I suggest changing the battery in the key fob before getting a diagnostic test. Some odd behavior in my Honda Pilot turned out to be caused by a dying key fob battery.
If the appropriate button on the fob gets accidentally pressed, fun things can happen. I’ve had some mysterious incidents of finding the Pilot’s windows rolled down. Turned out to be stuff in my pants pocket hitting the key fob just right. There’s a fob button that rolls down all the windows (a very nice feature when I’ve had to park outside on a hot day).
A: Got it.
Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at www.mercurynews.com/live-chats. Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at [email protected] or 408-920-5335.