The Second District Court of Appeal issued an opinion that vehicle owners may find interesting, as it involves the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and defects that do not substantially impair a vehicle’s use, value or safety.
The appeal involves plaintiff Rigoberto Ramos and a new 2013 Mercedes-Benz E350 leased from Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills on March 24, 2013.
A year after leasing the car Rigoberto returned to the dealer for the first time because there was a squeaking and grinding noises when the steering wheel was turned to the right while backing up. The dealer was unable to duplicate the noise and the car was in the shop for one day.
Six months later the car was returned for a high pitch noise from the front wheel area. The dealer confirmed the complaint and replaced several parts including cracked bushings found during the repair. The car was in the shop for 16 days.
Two weeks later the car was brought in again because of grinding noises when the steering wheel was turned to the right while backing up. The dealer confirmed the noise and performed diagnostic road tests, but could not identify the cause. The dealer instructed Rigoberto to continue driving the vehicle until further review by Mercedes Benz. The car was in the shop for 18 days.
In December 2014 Rigoberto asked Mercedes Benz to repurchase the car and he was declined.
Nine months later, the car was returned to the dealer, once again for grinding when he backed up and turned the steering wheel to the left. The dealer found the rack and pinion assembly was the source of the noise, replaced it and performed other repairs. The car was in the shop for 9 days.
Plaintiff returned the vehicle at the end of the lease term in May 2016.
Meanwhile, in February the 2016 plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC and Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills under the Song-Beverly Act. He alleged several causes of action, including failure to promptly replace the car or make restitution, after failing to repair the car to conform to express warranties after a reasonable number of attempts; failure to commence repairs within a reasonable time and failure to repair the car so it conformed to the applicable warranties within 30 days; and breach of the implied warranty of merchantability.
A jury trial resulted in a special verdict finding the car did not have a defect covered by the warranty that substantially impaired the vehicle’s use, value or safety, and the car was fit for ordinary purposes, but defendants failed to complete warranted repairs within 30 days.
Under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (Civ. Code, § 1791 et seq.; the Song-Beverly Act), popularly known as the “lemon law,”a buyer may not obtain restitution of the full price he paid for a new motor vehicle, where the manufacturer failed to complete repairs to a defect within 30 days, but the defect did not substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value or safety.