BMW Recalls 130,000 Vehicles, then 20,000 More

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on November 3rd, 2010

Following an investigative report by Chris Cuomo of ABC News, BMW recalled 130,000 vehicles that may have a defective high-pressure fuel pump. The 2007 to 2010 335i series, 2008 to 2010 135i, 535i, and X6 xDrive35i Sports Activity Coupes and the 2009 to 2010 Z4 Roadster sDrive35i are all affected by the recall. BMW owners have reported that the vehicles shake and vibrate, and can suddenly slow down while in motion. BMW said that the sudden deceleration is caused by the “safe mode,” which kicks in when the high-pressure pump fails.

The investigative report found that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received hundreds of complaints about the problem, but had not taken action. In case you didn’t catch it, here’s Cuomo’s report:

In addition, BMW recalled over 20,000 2008 X5 Sports Activity Vehicles that have low-pressure fuel pumps. According to a statement by BMW, the pump is subjected to increased wear, and could malfunction and cause the engine to stall.

The automaker said that it would send letters to BMW owners of affected vehicles, who could then schedule service appointments.

Toyota: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on July 21st, 2010

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation found that sudden acceleration in Toyotas, which led to a massive recall, was actually the result of driver error. While acknowledging that floor mats were defective, the DoT found that most sudden acceleration incidents involved drivers mistakenly jamming on the accelerator rather than the brake.

Lest Toyota breathe a sigh of relief, the Washington Post reports that a federal grand jury issued subpoenas to the automaker for information about potentially defective steering relay rods. The steering relay rods relate to 4Runner SUVs, T100 pickups, and other pickups, and can allegedly wear out, causing drivers to lose control of their vehicles.

Toyota Tests All SUVs After Halting Lexus GX 460

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on April 15th, 2010

If you’ve purchased a lemon vehicle, you know how frustrating it is to know that there’s a problem and have the dealer or manufacturer insist that the car’s fine. But automakers are in no position to deny, deny, deny when it’s Consumer Reports who is pointing the finger. Particularly if the car manufacturer is Toyota, which is still reeling from the floor mat and sudden acceleration defects.

When Consumer Reports magazine put the Toyota Lexus GX 460 on its “do not buy” list, Toyota responded immediately, telling dealers to stop selling the SUV. Chalking one up in the “lessons learned” column after the PR disaster over sudden acceleration, Toyota is now going one step further. According to the Los Angeles Times, in the wake of charges that the Lexus was at risk for rolling over, the automaker will also now check the stability controls in the Highlander and the 4Runner.

In the meantime, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also conducting tests on the Lexus GX 460, and has issued its own warning to consumers.

Lemon Law Rules: Connecticut’s Arbitration Program

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on March 7th, 2010

Connecticut’s Arbitration Program

According to many states’  lemon laws, having a defective car means taking an automobile manufacturer to court. But in CT, lemon law rules provide for what’s known as an arbitration program. Administered by the Department of Consumer Protection, the arbitration program decides whether or not your vehicle meets the criteria of Connecticut lemon laws, and whether you’re eligible for arbitration. Ultimately, the arbitration program decides whether or not you’re eligible for a lemon buyback.

In order to take advantage of the state’s arbitration program, you need to file an application and documents, as well as pay a fee. First, the Department of Consumer Protection will review your application and determine whether or not you’re eligible for arbitration. If so, your application goes on to an arbitrator and an automotive technical expert. These two people will also review your application, and can determine that you’re ineligible for arbitration – even if the Department of Consumer Protection said that you are.

While Connecticut lemon law supposedly designed the lemon law arbitration process so that consumers don’t have to hire an attorney, the reality is that it’s a very complex and intimidating process. It doesn’t help that auto manufacturers show up for arbitration with or submit documents from teams of attorneys who do nothing but fight lemon law claims. One slip-up by the consumer – either in terms of the paperwork filed or in not countering the arguments of the manufacturer’s legal team, and the idea of justice is out the window.

Whether you live in Connecticut –  or any other state with an arbitration program – it’s important to have an attorney by your side. The right lawyer can give you lemon law advice, and can often get you a settlement or a lemon buy back without ever going through the arbitration process. Often, an auto manufacturer will back down because having a lemon law lawyer sends the message that you’re serious about your claim, and that you’re not willing to put up with a defective car.

If you think you have a lemon vehicle, it’s important to contact an attorney early. In lemon law cases, timing is everything. A lemon law lawyer will consult with you and guide you through the process of substantiating your claim, collecting the proper documentation, and bringing the auto manufacturer to justice. 

Approximately 161K 2007-08 Jeep Wranglers Recalled by Chrysler

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on November 23rd, 2009

Chrysler informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) that it is recalling about 161,000 Jeep Wranglers that were assembled without a transmission fluid temperature warning system. 2007-2008 Wranglers are affected by the recall. As reported in the New York Times, Chrysler expained the reason for the recall:

“Operating a vehicle under rigorous off-road conditions will cause the vehicle’s transmission fluid temperature to elevate…Continuous operation under such rigorous conditions may lead to a transmission failure.”

NHTSA’s press release, which can be found here, states that the remedy for affected owners is to bring their vehicle to dealers, who will

“…inspect and install a “hotoil” message in the instrument cluster and a chime indicating an elevated transmission fluid condition. The recall is expected to begin during December 2009.”

The lack of temperature warning system is potentially serious, and could even lead to an engine fire. Owners of recalled Jeeps should contact their dealers for more information.