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Acura RDX, MDX and TLX Transmission and Infotainment System Defects

Acura is facing multiple class action suits regarding Acura MDX, Acura RDX, and Acura TLX models, along with several models from its sibling brand, Honda

One suit alleges the following transmission problems:

  • Jerking
  • Slipping
  • Hesitation
  • Banging into gear
  • Stalling
  • Transmission failure

These issues relate to the same ZF 9 SPEED TRANSMISSION which has been the subject of CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS in other vehicles.   

In another class action, these vehicles are alleged to have a defective infotainment system (including the backup camera) which behaves erratically, malfunctioning, freezing, and creating a safety hazard and distraction. 

Additionally these vehicles have had other vexing issues such as problems with the electrical system, including a failure of the collision mitigation braking system (causing spontaneous braking), and failure of other driver safety or convenience features, including the automatic sliding doors. 

Remember, under the right circumstances, class actions can either help and hurt the value of your individual claim. In most cases where lemon law rights are released in a class action settlement, your individual lemon law claim is more valuable than the class settlement proceeds, which may only be for a coupon toward a new purchase or an “extended warranty.” 

Even worse, auto manufacturers often place time limits or other restrictions on the class settlement proceeds that prevent people from receiving anything in exchange for their released claims. 

On the other hand, if you have a good lemon law claim you may be entitled to receive all your money back, or more.   

The FOUNDER OF OUR FIRM used to work in-house for auto makers, which can be a big advantage in these cases.  There is a FEE SHIFTING PROVISION in the law which allows us to take cases free of charge to you.  If you have a good case we will front the costs and our time, and we only get paid by the manufacturer if we achieve a recovery for you. 

If you have questions about a class action, or you think you may have a lemon, contact us today for a fast, free and confidential evaluation.

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Honda Odyssey and Pilot Transmission and Infotainment System Defects

Honda is facing multiple class action suits regarding Honda Odyssey and Honda Pilot models, along with others including Honda Ridgeline and Honda Passport. 

One suit alleges the following transmission problems:

  • Jerking
  • Slipping
  • Hesitation
  • Banging into gear
  • Stalling
  • Transmission failure

These issues relate to the same ZF 9 SPEED TRANSMISSION which has been the subject of CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS in other vehicles.   

In another class action, these vehicles are alleged to have a defective infotainment system (including the backup camera) which behaves erratically, malfunctioning, freezing, and creating a safety hazard and distraction. 

Additionally these vehicles have had other vexing issues such as problems with the electrical system, including a failure of the collision mitigation braking system (causing spontaneous braking), and failure of other driver safety or convenience features, including the automatic sliding doors. 

Remember, under the right circumstances, class actions can either help and hurt the value of your individual claim. In most cases where lemon law rights are released in a class action settlement, your individual lemon law claim is more valuable than the class settlement proceeds, which may only be for a coupon toward a new purchase or an “extended warranty.” 

Even worse, auto manufacturers often place time limits or other restrictions on the class settlement proceeds that prevent people from receiving anything in exchange for their released claims. 

On the other hand, if you have a good lemon law claim you may be entitled to receive all your money back, or more.   

The FOUNDER OF OUR FIRM used to work in-house for auto makers, which can be a big advantage in these cases.  There is a FEE SHIFTING PROVISION in the law which allows us to take cases free of charge to you.  If you have a good case we will front the costs and our time, and we only get paid by the manufacturer if we achieve a recovery for you. 

If you have questions about a class action, or you think you may have a lemon, contact us today for a fast, free and confidential evaluation.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE

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Update – Nissan Altima Class Action – IMPORTANT DEADLINES APPROACHING

We previously wrote about issues we were seeing with Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs) in Nissan vehicles, including Nissan Altima, and developing class actions.  (Read more here.)

To update on Nissan Altima specifically, as we had predicted, a class action settlement has been approved by a federal district court in the matter of Christopher Gann, et al. v. Nissan North America, Inc., Case No. 3:18-cv-00966.

Most people do not realize that if you are a class member in a settlement like this and you take no action, you may be unintentionally losing the ability to bring valuable claims.

In this case, if you do not opt out of the class settlement you may lose the ability to get all your money back in exchange for the right to claim a warranty extension, reimbursement for repairs, and a $1,000.00 coupon toward a new Nissan purchase.

Even worse, if you do nothing, you may lose your individual rights and also miss the deadline to make a claim under the settlement.   Remember, you must take specific steps in order to opt out of the settlement.    If you do not, you are automatically considered a party to the settlement–even if you get nothing for it.  

DEADLINE TO OPT OUT: FEBRUARY 7, 2020

DEADLINE TO MAKE A CLAIM: JANUARY 30, 2020

We always recommend that you take care to understand a class action that may affect your rights.   Even if you decide to remain in the settlement and make a claim, it pays to make an informed decision.

If you would like help with the analysis of your potential claims, please contact us for a fast, free and confidential evaluation.

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Update – Nissan Sentra Class Action – IMPORTANT DEADLINES APPROACHING

We previously wrote about issues we were seeing with Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs) in Nissan vehicles, including Nissan Sentra, and developing class actions.  (Read more here.)

To update on Nissan Sentra specifically, as we had predicted, a class action settlement has been approved by a federal district court in the matter of Patricia Weckwerth, et al. v. Nissan North America, Inc., Case No. 3:18-cv-00588.

Most people do not realize that if you are a class member in a settlement like this and you take no action, you may be unintentionally losing the ability to bring valuable claims.

In this case, if you do not opt out of the class settlement you may lose the ability to get all your money back in exchange for the right to claim a warranty extension, reimbursement for repairs, and a $1,000.00 coupon toward a new Nissan purchase.

Even worse, if you do nothing, you may lose your individual rights and also miss the deadline to make a claim under the settlement.   Remember, you must take specific steps in order to opt out of the settlement.    If you do not, you are automatically considered a party to the settlement–even if you get nothing for it.  

DEADLINE TO OPT OUT: FEBRUARY 20, 2020

DEADLINE TO MAKE A CLAIM: JANUARY 30, 2020

We always recommend that you take care to understand a class action that may affect your rights.   Even if you decide to remain in the settlement and make a claim, it pays to make an informed decision.

If you would like help with the analysis of your potential claims, please contact us for a fast, free and confidential evaluation.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE

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Why Don’t Auto Manufacturers Buy Back Lemons?

There is case law that requires manufacturers to buy back your vehicle when it meets the lemon law criteria – even if you don’t ask them to.  The law recognizes that manufactures have the ability to know your vehicle qualifies before you may even know it. 

Yet most manufacturers will do everything in their power to avoid buying back your lemon. 

When they do begrudgingly agree to buy it back, they will do anything they can to pay you less than the law requires, to delay, and to make you sign a release with all kinds of extra legal provisions giving up rights.  They will stonewall you in the hopes that you will give up.

The lemon law does not require you to give up any rights. It requires manufacturers to promptly buy back your lemon, and take responsibility for it. Manufacturers may even be required to pay extra penalties for violating the law, if their contact is willful.

Furthermore, the lemon law provides for the payment of your legal fees. The legislature of each US state and the federal government have enacted these fee shifting provisions in lemon laws so that you will have a means to take on large automakers with their infinite resources when they violate the law.   

Remember that manufacturers are very familiar with the lemon law even if you are not, and they may document your case defensively once they realize they have exposure to legal liability.  This may be going on even while they are telling you they want to help you. 

If you have any questions about the lemon law, it is in your best interests to seek a fast, free, and confidential evaluation.  Our law firm offers this, as does many other lemon law firms in California. 

If you would like to speak to an attorney about a potential claim, contact us today. 

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FORD TRANSMISSION CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT VACATED

On September 13, 2019, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated approval of the class action settlement in the case Vargas, et al. v. Ford Motor Company (D.C. 2:12-cv-08388-AB-FFM). The Appeals Court found that the settlement may not have been fair and adequate to class members, and remanded it for further review.

This settlement had provided that class members–owners of certain Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta models with transmission issues–would give up their individual lemon law and consumer fraud rights in exchange for certain consideration such as smaller cash payments or coupons toward a new purchase, and an arbitration process paid for by Ford with limited remedies.

With approval of the settlement vacated, our firm is pursuing individual claims on behalf of consumers who suffered with these defective transmissions.

The current status of the class settlement is that the federal district court will examine it more closely, and may again choose to approve it. Therefore, we recommend that consumers considering pursuing a claim make sure to investigate your legal rights without delay, as they may again disappear or be reduced by re-approval of the settlement.

2011-2016 Ford Focus and 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta vehicles built with dual-clutch transmissions prone to shuddering, slipping, bucking, jerking, hesitation while changing gears, premature internal wear, delays in downshifting and, in some cases, sudden or delayed acceleration may be affected by the class settlement.

These problems and Ford’s failure to take responsibility for them have become better known, which may increase the value of your potential claim.

If you have had these or any other problems with your vehicle, contact us for a fast, free and confidential evaluation today.

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Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) and Lemon Law

What are Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) and how do they affect Lemon Law?

Automobile manufacturers and dealerships regularly use computers to diagnose and fix vehicles. A common way they identify issues with a vehicle is to check the vehicle’s internal computer for Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs).

DTCs are error codes that are used by technicians to assist in identifying the cause of a particular customer’s concern.

Most vehicles’ internal computers are designed to electronically monitor errors within a certain cycle of diagnostic checks (known as “enabling criteria”).

If the computer finds an error, the DTC is triggered and stored within the vehicle’s computer modules.  A dealership technician may then retrieve these codes to assist in diagnosing the cause of the symptoms experienced by the customer’s vehicle.

So for instance, say a customer brings their vehicle to the dealership complaining of issues with the vehicle’s transmission being jerky and unresponsive. In most cases, a dealership technician will then check the vehicle’s internal computer for any stored DTCs and if they are found it will help the technician diagnose and pinpoint the source(s) of the transmission issue.  

But what happens when a customer complains of an issue and no DTC is found? Many times this is exactly the case. This is problematic because the dealer and manufacturer will use the lack of a DTC as a defense that the vehicle had no issues, when there clearly are issues with the vehicle.

If you would like help figuring out how a DTC may affect your Lemon Law Claim, contact us today for an evaluation.

 

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What are Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) and how do they affect Lemon Law?

Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) are technical publications from an automobile manufacturer that identify commonly observed issues in a particular range of vehicles and provide diagnostic and repair instruction.

TSBs are used to explain to dealerships and other repair facilities how to repair known issues in a vehicle.  When there are numerous TSBs for the same issue, it may show that the manufacturer is constantly assessing, analyzing and updating repair procedures for a persistent problem.  TSBs can also relate to Recalls.

If you would like help figuring out out a TSB repair may affect your lemon law claim, contact us today for an evaluation.

 

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Class Actions and Lemon Law

How do class actions affect lemon law, and vice versa?

Lemon law clients often feel validated when they learn other people had the same problems in the same model vehicle.  This might be a symptom of the frustration of constantly being told them are imagining things by the manufacturer or dealer.  

But how do Lemon Law and class actions affect each other? The answers can be both subtle and dramatic.  

It’s important to remember that in a vacuum, other similar claims have no bearing on your Lemon Law claim.  To prove your claim, you simply need to show that you had a substantial problem that was not repaired within a reasonable number of attempts, or that defeated the essential purpose for which you bought your vehicle.  If you can do that, it doesn’t matter if your vehicle is the only one in the fleet that has the problem, or if all of them do.  

However, what we often see is manufacturers denying problems they know are common in their vehicles on a general basis.  If they know that nearly all their transmissions have a shifting defect, their defense that you must have been imagining it the 4 times you brought it into the shop becomes more suspect.  

In fact, it may rise above the level of incompetence and into willfulness–and that has a big impact on your lemon law claim.  First, it’s harder for them to deny. Second, the denying could lead to awards of civil penalties or punitive damages.

Recalls

Further, if the problem is widespread, the manufacturer should generally know about it before the consumer does, and should issue a recall. (Read more here about the effects of recalls on your lemon law claim.)  If they do not, or if the recall is ineffective, or provides too little too late, there could be cause for a class action.  

If a widespread issue of defects in material and workmanship, it could lead to a class action claim.  But what happens to your lemon law claim if it becomes part of a class action?  

From bad to worse

First, you should know that the class action can take the place of your individual lemon law claim.  If you have not opted out of the class, which usually requires that you take some sort of affirmative step like writing a letter (and keeping a copy of it–because trust us–the manufacturer is more likely to lose track of it), you may be left with whatever settlement or judgement is achieved by the class action suit.  

Second, you should know that if you have a lemon law claim, most likely whatever you would gain under the class action suit will be worth less.  Why is that?  Because with a lemon law case, the threshold remedy is repurchase of the vehicle.  Automotive consumer class actions rarely result in a repurchase. Most often they result in no more than a small amount of cash, or a coupon for a new purchase.  

Third–and it just keeps getting worse–you should know that it’s entirely possible a class action settlement will have a result that gives you nothing in place of the repurchase you might be entitled to under Lemon Law.  That’s right…it’s entirely possible you could get zero under the class action instead of all your money back under the individual lemon law claim.   

Example

For instance Fiat Chrysler recently had a class action settlement regarding modification of a component called the Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) in Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango models.  The component would fail, causing serious problems such as stalling or failing to start, and a host of other weird issues.  These could easily be lemon law issues–but all the class settlement gave was a recall (which would have been required even without the suit) and compensation for towing, repair and rental charges–which again should be required as a minimum even without the suit.  Finally, the claims period was so short, that may Jeep owners would actually not be provided those reimbursed towing charges until their car actually chose to stall, after the class settlement period. Score one for FCA, which all of a sudden has a legal defense to total lemons.1

Many class action results (usually settlements) have rules for compensation that stretch beyond what the law would require, damages awards which are far less, and perhaps worst of all–short claims periods that may slam shut before you even know you have a claim.  Or even before you’ve experienced any problems!

Feel any differently about class actions now?  You should. And you should also know that in the case of a chronic failure of a product, a weak class action can be a huge benefit to a manufacturer.  This is because it may create a defense to a lemon law claim where one would not otherwise exist.  So beware.

In summary, class actions can both help and hurt your lemon law claim.  Their existence makes it harder to deny the class problem; but class action settlements will usually leave you in a worse spot than you would have been in with your own lemon law claim, and your own attorneys.  

1 It is arguable that lemon law prevents a settlement like this, because it is against public policy and would tend to defeat the branding requirements of the ACNA.  But don’t tell the manufacturers that–to them, the class settlement is a valid excuse to keep lemons on the road and unsuspecting consumers buying them.  

Contact us today if we can answer any other questions about your claim.

 

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Lemon Law Buyback Offers: Things to Watch Out For

Issue #1 – the lemon law does not require you to sign a release or settlement agreement.

If Ford, General Motors, FCA, Kia, Hyundai, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, Tesla or any manufacturer has offered to repurchase or replace your vehicle, there are a few lemon law related issues to keep in mind.

Lemon law requires the manufacturer to repurchase or replace a qualifying vehicle.  It does not require, or authorize the manufacturer to require, a signed settlement agreement or release.  These agreements are often packed with extraneous provisions such as confidentiality clauses and waivers of claims you do not even know you have yet.  

The manufacturer is not complying with the law if it requires you to sign one of these agreements as a condition before receiving your buyback or replacement remedy.  Yet in our experience, manufacturers often state that an agreement must be signed.

Issue #2 – the manufacturer does not get to dictate the mileage offset.

As discussed elsewhere on this site, lemon law provides that for a breach of express warranty claim, the manufacturer may reduce your reimbursement for miles driven before the problems with the vehicle started.  There is a formula in the statute for calculating this “mileage offset.” (See California Civil Code § 1793.2(d)(2)(C).)

One of the most problematic issues we see with manufacturer repurchase or replacement offers is that they make overly aggressive mileage offset calculations. They often try to dictate the offset and fail or even refuse to show how they calculated it.  Sometimes they even cheat by applying the offset to the total odometer miles instead of the miles driven before the first problem, or by applying a lease overmileage calculation instead of using the formula written in the law!

Calculating the mileage offset can be tricky, and it often requires some technical and legal  analysis. For instance, if your car leaked coolant at 10,000 miles, had the water pump replaced at 20,000 miles, overheated at 30,000 miles and required an engine replacement at 40,000 miles, which is the correct mileage offset?  We would probably argue 10,000 miles, because repeat cooling system problems starting there were the root cause of the eventual premature engine failure. We have seen many situations where manufacturer would argue that 40,000 miles should be the offset–and the difference can be thousands of dollars in reimbursement.  

Issue #3 – beware of creative deductions.

We’ve been handling lemon law buybacks for 14 years, yet no two are alike, and we continue to see new and creative methods by manufacturers of deducting from your reimbursement.   There are too many different methods to count them all. The short answer is that the method of determining how to repurchase or replace a vehicle under the lemon law is laid out at California Civil Code Section 1793.2.   The longer answer is that the more creative the deduction, the more you may need an attorney experienced with all of the lemon law case precedent and surrounding regulation to argue against it.    

Issue #4 – the manufacturer is not doing you a favor by buying back your vehicle.

This is a broader issue that actually covers the previous three.  Manufacturers, especially when dealing directly with consumers who do not have attorneys, often act as though a lemon law buyback is some kind of good will gesture. It is not a favor–it’s a legal requirement.   

That means they don’t get to tell you if your vehicle qualifies, they don’t get to dictate your compensation, and quite frankly, they don’t deserve credit or concessions for buying your vehicle back if it’s a lemon.  The law requires them to do so.  You will know excellent customer service when you see it.  If you feel you are being pushed around, just remember that the manufacturer’s customer service department probably has a lot more experience with lemon law than you do.  

The good news is, the California legislature anticipated this issue, and that’s why the lemon law requires the manufacturer to pay your legal fees.  If you want a free second opinion, or are ready to have your own advocate, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

 

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