Family ponders legal action over defective vehicle

The Pennsylvania Automobile Lemon Law provides relief for consumers when defects that impair the use, performance or safety of new vehicles arise during the first year or 12,000 miles of ownership. When problems develop in vehicles over a year old or with more than 12,000 miles on the odometer, consumers have fewer legal options. However, they can still pursue civil remedies by filing lawsuits against vehicle manufacturers or repair facilities.

This is the situation an Ohio family currently finds themselves in. The family purchased a GMC Acadia SUV that developed a shifting error more than a year after they purchased it. The dashboard would continue to show that the vehicle was in gear after it had been shifted into park. The family learned about the problem after receiving emails from the General Motors OnStar service. A GMC dealer replaced a sensor to ensure that the SUV's dashboard display updated correctly, but the problem persisted. Subsequent dealer visits also failed to address the issue.

After filing a complaint with GM, the family discovered that several other Acadia owners experienced the same problem. A class-action lawsuit has been filed over the issue. GM has acknowledged the defect but has not offered a fix according to the attorney who filed the lawsuit. He says that the auto manufacturer does not consider the problem to be serious. GM has filed a motion to dismiss the litigation.

Attorneys with consumer protection experience may advocate on behalf of vehicle owners when lemon law protections are no longer available. Attorneys may also file lawsuits against used car dealers when consumers suffer injury, loss or damage caused by misrepresentation. In addition to pursuing civil remedies on behalf of consumers, attorneys might seek to ensure that fraudulent or recklessly negligent new or used vehicle sales or repair facilities face official sanctions.

Source: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, Automobile Lemon Law

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