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Car Warranty Repair Taking Too Long

| by Michelle Yang, Esq.

Not sure what you should do if your car warranty repair is taking too long? As a consumer, you have rights and specific measures you can take under the lemon law. A repair shop or car dealership may be obligated to refund or replace your vehicle if car repairs aren’t possible. A car warranty repair taking too long is typically understood as more than 30 days after you brought it in. 

Nationwide lemon laws offer protection to drivers throughout the United States. However, before taking legal action against a manufacturer, there are certain steps you should take. These steps and the resulting outcomes will determine if you have enough merit to make file a lemon law claim

If your car warranty repair is taking too long you may be entitled to compensation. Prequalify below or call (310) 627-2665 for a free case evaluation. ¿Hablas Español? Contáctenos ahora para recibir más información.

Let’s examine what rights consumers have when a car repair goes wrong.

Car Repair Warranty Law

check your manufacturer's warranty

Under U.S. federal law, warranties for vehicles and other consumer products must be written in clear, easy-to-understand language. They must specify who is covered by the warranty, provide a clear description of what is covered, detail the responsibilities of the warrantor and the consumer (including where and how repairs and maintenance can be performed), the expiration of the warranty, and ways to handle disputes with the warrantor. This law prevents manufacturers from using disclaimers on warranties in an unfair or misleading manner, and prohibits certain business practices such as conditioning coverage under a written warranty on the consumer’s use of an article or service identified by brand, trade, or corporate name unless that article or service is provided without charge to the consumer. Furthermore, a manufacturer can only deny warranty coverage if it can demonstrate that a non-original equipment part or related service caused a defect to occur in the original product​.

A legitimate reason for bringing a lemon law case against a car dealer in California involves the manufacturer’s warranty. Most newly purchased or leased cars come with an initial warranty, which usually covers repair costs for a specific number of months or miles on more than one major car part.

Used vehicles may also still be under the original warranty or come with an extended warranty. When you bring your car in for warranty work or ask to have the vehicle repaired under warranty, it can be because something went wrong before it was supposed to. For example, your transmission might fail after 16,000 miles despite proper maintenance.

Say your transmission is under warranty for 18,000 miles with proper car maintenance. A repair shop should fix your broken car without charging you for these repairs. The shop should reasonably repair it within so many attempts and before 30 days. If your automobile is on a dealership hold for more than 30 days, you may have a legal right to demand a new vehicle.

Reasonable Time for Car Repair Under Warranty

research reasonable wait times

There isn’t a specific timeframe set in law for how long a car repair under warranty should take. The time can vary depending on the complexity of the repair, the availability of parts, the workload of the service center, among other factors.

However, consumer protection laws such as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act govern how warranties work. The Act requires that a company provide a “reasonable opportunity” to repair the vehicle. What constitutes a “reasonable opportunity” or a “reasonable time” isn’t precisely defined by the Act, it can vary depending on the situation. In practice, it is often interpreted on a case-by-case basis, depending on the complexity of the repair and other factors.

As for California, the state has the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, often referred to as California’s Lemon Law. This law states that if the manufacturer or its representative in this state, such as an authorized dealer, is unable to service or repair a new motor vehicle to meet the terms of an express written warranty after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer is required promptly to replace the vehicle or return the purchase price to the buyer.

Under California’s Lemon Law, a “reasonable number of attempts” typically translates to 4 unsuccessful repair attempts for the same issue, or if the vehicle has been in the shop for over 30 days (not necessarily all at once) for any number of issues. If the problem is a serious safety issue, it could be as few as two attempts.

Make a Repair Complaint

make a repair complaint

In most cases, your first action is to file a complaint against the company repairing your car. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the Better Business Bureau. If the company has registered through the bureau, you can do this online via the company’s page. The repair company gets dinged if someone does not respond to your complaint.

A complaint may prompt the shop to make the needed repairs more swiftly or let you know what’s taking so long. Supply chain disruptions are valid reasons for repair delays. However, you should at least get a time frame or updates on this during the repair process. Unreasonable dealership holds may include not searching for used parts if your insurance accepts them.

Making a complaint does not cost you any money. But if the shop doesn’t have registration with the bureau, you may need to go through the company itself. You can try escalating your concerns with the service delay up the command chain. Sometimes calling your insurance company can also put additional pressure on the mechanic. 

Pro Tip: Keep detailed records of your visits to the repair shop, repairs made, and communication with the dealership/repair shop.

Lemon Law Coverage

lemon law coverage

Most states allow you to take legal action to get a new car if your car warranty repair takes more than thirty days. Warranties entitle you to a buyback or a replacement for your vehicle if a certified mechanic can’t repair your car. However, you may need to do more than take it in for repairs. You might also need to contact and inform the car’s manufacturer.

If a manufacture certified repair shop can’t fix your vehicle after two or more attempts, lemon laws will cover you. If the repair deals with a problem that could cause death or grave injury, it’s extremely likely you’ll win your case. Under the law and warranty, you should not have to pay for or sell your car. Instead, the carmaker has to purchase the vehicle back from you or give you money.

Legal coverage also applies to a car warranty repair taking too long. A repair that takes more than a month qualifies, even if it isn’t consecutive. You can choose a new automobile or ask the carmaker to pay for a refund. Your claim can then be marked as complete, assuming the dealer and manufacturer comply with the law. 

Can a car be replaced under warranty?

getting a new car

Yes, under certain circumstances, a vehicle can be replaced under warranty. The specifics of this process depend on the terms of the warranty and the laws of the jurisdiction.

In California, for example, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act requires that if a manufacturer or its authorized dealer is unable to service or repair a new motor vehicle to meet the terms of an express written warranty after a reasonable number of attempts (as described above), the manufacturer must replace the vehicle or return the purchase price to the buyer.

Similarly, many manufacturers’ warranties include provisions for vehicle replacement if a serious defect cannot be fixed after a certain number of attempts. These provisions are often included in “lemon law” rights that are provided by the manufacturer in addition to the rights provided by state laws.

If a dealership bought back a car and it’s a lemon, they must disclose that information if they show it to you. A dealership cannot market a vehicle as is without indicating it was not fixable. 

Talk to a Lemon Law Attorney

It is not uncommon for a dealership to take too long with a repair.  Whether you’ve filed a dealership complaint already or not, you should contact an experienced lemon lawyer.

A lawyer will gather all of the necessary documentation and fight your claim at on a contingency fee basis. It’s also a good idea to document any calls or communications you had with the dealership, the bureau, and the automaker. A lawyer may reach out on your behalf to see if they can expedite your car repair. If the dealership hold continues, they may file a lawsuit.

The dealer may continue to hold your car during this period, so you might need to keep your rental or borrow a car from friends or family. Your lawyer can also include this cost in your lawsuit, even if your insurance covers it partially. Some coverage will offer a discounted rate for rental cars if the vehicle isn’t drivable. 

Car Repair Taking Too Long? Some Final Thoughts…

A car warranty repair taking too long is unacceptable. When you take an automobile in for service, you expect results within a reasonable timeframe. If it’s going to take longer,  the company should inform you of that wait time. When service drags on for more than thirty days, it’s time to take action.

Your rights as a consumer include filing a formal complaint and receiving compensation. Typically, a mechanic will respond to those complaints in a timely fashion. They don’t want a black mark on their record or bad reviews and feedback online. A mechanic wants to show they’ve repaired cars in good faith and proved prompt service when asked.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having your car stuck in repair for too long, please contact Cali Lemon Lawyers today for a free case evaluation.

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Consumer protection laws in California and nationwide actively protect buyers of vehicles and other consumer goods. They hold a particular importance when purchasing or leasing a new vehicle. The California Lemon Law grants legal rights to those who find themselves with a vehicle that continually fails to function properly, providing a pathway to seek resolution and potential compensation.

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