There are numerous California and Federal laws that are meant to insulate consumers from the fraudulent and deceitful tactics of some auto dealers. Auto dealers have an infamous history of either lying outright or not telling the whole truth. The American Government has taken a number of steps to counter act the misdeeds of car dealerships, laws that require a car dealer to disclose the entire history of an automobile without selectively withholding important facts such as a car’s title or repair history.
A very important California law for consumer’s to be aware of is the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. The Song Beverly Act relates to the purchase of new cars and some old cars. If a consumer purchases a new car that suffers from frequent automotive defects, then the auto dealer that sold the car is required to either re-purchase the car at it’s original price or provide the consumer with a defect free vehicle that is of equal value.
It is important to note that the Song Beverly Act only applies to vehicles that were purchased under warranty. Even if the car is brand new, a party cannot file suit under the Song Beverly Act if the consumer failed to get a warranty. If there is a warranty, then there must be some sort of defect that would justify a claim under the act. A defect is any issue with the car that impairs the cars use, value, or safety. Use has to do with practical use, if the car was purchased to drive to and from work and a defect hinders this purpose then that is a defect that impairs the cars use. A defect is said to impair a cars value if it makes the car less valuable then similar cars (same year, make an model) that are defect free. Defects affecting the cars safety are defects that in any way make the care unsafe to use. So if the defect makes the car periodically explode, then it likely impairs the car’s safety.
A party is entitled to a refund, or a replacement car if the defect is not fixed within a “reasonable time.” The “reasonable time” standard is contingent on the facts of a given case. Still the California legislature has established guidelines to determine if a “reasonable time” has passed. A “reasonable time” has passed if the car has been owned for less than 18 months or has been driven less than 18,000 and the dealer has made 2 attempts to correct a safety defect, Made 4 attempts to correct a continuous defect, or the car has been been out of service at least 30 days due to repairs. As previously stated, a party is entitled to compensation after a “reasonable time” has passed and the car remains unfixed. The party is also entitled to any costs associated with the defective car such as tow costs, replacement parts etc.