For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Jenn Engstrom, CALPIRG State Director,, 916-524-1145

Rosemary Shahan, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation,, 530-759-9440

Taran Volckhausen, Communications Associate,, 720-212-9955
New report reveals most commonly sued car manufacturers under California lemon law
Manufacturers vary widely in how often their customers take them to California state court
LOS ANGELES - CALPIRG Education Fund, the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) Foundation and Frontier Group released a report on Tuesday that reveals the car companies that are sued the most and least often under California's auto lemon law, compared to their market share, over selling seriously defective cars in the Golden State.

"Car buyers, who are paying record high prices at car dealerships, should be able to expect that the vehicle they're taking home is completely safe and functional. If the car doesn't work, the manufacturer must take responsibility," said Jenn Engstrom, state director of CALPIRG Education Fund. "We hope our report helps educate consumers on how different car companies compare when it comes to preventing and addressing lemon cars."

The report reviews 34,397 lemon lawsuits in California state courts from 2018 to 2021. The key findings from the report are:
    Auto manufacturers vary widely in how often their customers take them to court in California for selling seriously defective cars. General Motors was sued the most often relative to their share of the state's new vehicle market while Toyota was sued the least.

    Toyota was taken to court under the lemon law only once for every 2,029 cars the automaker sold in the state. On the other hand, General Motors had a lemon lawsuit filed for every 78 cars
    it sold in California. Consumers who purchased GM vehicles were approximately 26 times more likely to file a lemon lawsuit than consumers who purchased Toyotas.

    Among the more than 7 million new vehicles registered in California from 2018 through 2021, only 34,397 – less than one-half of one percent – resulted in a lawsuit filed in state courts.
"Instead of attacking California's auto lemon law, auto manufacturers like GM, Jaguar, Fiat Chrysler, Nissan, Ford, and Kia should concentrate on improving their vehicle quality and customer service," said Rosemary Shahan, president of the CARS Foundation. Shahan is known for initiating and battling for years to enact what became known as California's auto lemon law, working closely with Assemblymember Sally Tanner for passage.

California's lemon law is one of the most comprehensive. Under legislation spearheaded by Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), California's lemon law was expanded to provide protections for active duty military service members, regardless where they purchased their vehicles, and small business owners and individual entrepreneurs who own up to five vehicles. Plus enhanced protections against vehicles with life-threatening safety defects and a prohibition on confidentiality in lemon law settlements, leaving lemon owners free to tell the truth about their experiences.

"No consumer wants to go to court over a defective car," said Tony Dutzik, senior policy analyst with the Frontier Group. "Some automakers may find themselves in court more often because they make lower quality cars, or do a worse job of addressing problems to consumers' satisfaction. Others may offer longer warranties that extend consumers' rights to sue under the Lemon Law. The data in this report is one more piece of information consumers can use in making a wise choice where to shop for a new car."

There are currently lemon laws in all 50 states, modeled after California's which is widely recognized as one of the strongest. California's auto lemon law requires auto manufacturers to provide owners of new and used cars with refunds or replacement vehicles when the manufacturers fail to fix major problems that are covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

"Not only did General Motors sell me a very unsafe, defective lemon car, but then they refused to abide by California's auto lemon law, dragging their feet every step of the way. After my horrible experience with a GM lemon, I will never buy another GM vehicle again," said Peter Snider, of Monterey, CA. Mr. Snider had to file a lawsuit under California's lemon law to get GM to buy back his 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV, which had numerous defects, including: spontaneously stalling (even though the battery was charged at half), lurching out of control, failing to start or to shut off, a faulty battery that could catch on fire (resulting in a safety recall with no fix for months), a backup camera that malfunctioned, failures of the climate control system, and other major electrical problems. "But for my asserting my rights under California's lemon law, I would have had to trade in that lemon at a substantial loss."
California's lemon law does not apply to minor problems. Consumers who pursued auto lemon litigation reviewed in the report complained that they experienced a wide range of defects, including brake, steering, engine, transmission and electrical failures.

"It's been 40 years since California passed its lemon law, but even today too many consumers are still unaware of their rights. Purchasing a car has always been a major investment, but with the recent surge in prices, it's become even more costly for families and individuals," said Engstrom. "It's more important than ever that consumers know they have protection after buying a lemon."

You can read the entire report, right on the CARS Foundation website: Lemon Index 2022.
You can download a PDF copy by clicking here.

BEWARE: Your family's safety is at risk
Greedy car dealers threaten lives, downplay the risks posed
by deadly safety recalls
Don't be tricked into buying a deathtrap on wheels
When car dealers want to make a killing by selling you a dangerously defective car at top dollar, can you trust them to tell you the truth about how hazardous it is?

Nope. Car dealers know that if you are aware how serious the safety recall defects are, chances are very good you won't buy that car, and that would cut into their profits.

So if a car dealer tells you anything at all about the safety recall defects, they usually try to trick you into thinking they're nothing to worry about. Just something minor. But don't fall for it. In reality, safety recall defects are often deadly. They injure and kill car buyers and their children, other family members, and other victims at an alarming rate.

But that doesn't stop car dealers from seeking to profit from selling the hazardous cars without bothering to get the free safety recall repairs done first.
CarMax: Multi-billion $$ Scamster

CarMax is the largest retailer of used cars in the U.S. It's a multi-billion $$ company that routinely sells vast numbers of hazardous recalled cars and has some of the worst practices in the used car industry.
In a shocking video, CarMax's former CEO / current Board President Tom Folliard minimizes the risks posed by safety recalls, while speaking at a public forum hosted by Florida Tech that included many college students, who are at high risk of being injured or killed in a car crash. In fact, for most of them, a car crash is the most likely cause of death for their age group.

After boasting about his lucrative career at CarMax, Folliard (estimated net worth: "at least $125 million") took questions from the audience. When asked about how CarMax handles safety recalls, his response was stunningly reckless and misleading.

First, he said that because CarMax is not a manufacturer, they can't fix safety recalls.

Is that true? Yes and no. It's true that CarMax isn't a manufacturer. But it's false to say that means that CarMax can't get safety recalls fixed. All CarMax has to do, is hire some more employees to take the recalled cars to nearby dealerships that are authorized by the manufacturer to perform safety recall repairs. And get this: the repairs are free, for at least 15 years from when the recall was issued. So there's really no excuse for CarMax to neglect this vitally important step, especially when they advertise that all their vehicles must pass a rigorous inspection. They're just too cheap to hire enough employees to do the job.

Worst of all, Folliard downplayed the risks posed by safety recall defects, telling the audience:

"Many of them are not really safety issues, they're just open recalls. But because of all the consumer movement around it, they're all considered safety recalls."

Is that true? NO!!!
Let's look at the facts.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ALL safety recall defects are serious.
Tragically, unrepaired safety recall defects continue to cause thousands of horrific, debilitating injuries and kill people.

Typical safety recall defects include:
  • catching on fire - some people have burned to death
  • loss of steering, including steering wheels that literally come off in the driver's hands
  • faulty brakes that can cause a crash
  • sticking accelerator pedals that cause cars to speed out of control
  • seat belts that fail to work when they're needed in a crash
  • child safety seat latches that come undone in a crash
  • Takata airbags that explode with excessive force and propel metal shrapnel into drivers' and passengers' face, neck and torso, often causing blindness or bleeding to death
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about the hazards posed by unrepaired auto safety recalls

"Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety. Car manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have recalled tens of millions of vehicles in each of the last several years for defects that pose significant safety risks to consumers. In 2015, for example, recalls affected 51 million vehicles nationwide. And defects that have been the subject of recalls have led to severe injuries and even death for many consumers."

Source: Statement of the Federal Trade Commission Concerning Auto Recall Advertising Cases (December 15, 2016)
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns: "Unrepaired auto recalls pose a serious threat to public safety."
Mike Jackson --- New 10-16-14
Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, talks candidly about safety recalls.   Source: Tramel33166 at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Who else warns about how dangerous safety recalls are? It isn't only government officials and safety experts. It's also industry insiders, such as the CEO of CarMax's #1 competitor, AutoNation, the largest new car dealership chain in the U.S.
Mike Jackson, the CEO of AutoNation, told Automotive News:

"These are not that the wrong tire-pressure sticker is on the car or some other little minor item....These are significant safety recalls, and we feel the time has passed that it's appropriate to take a vehicle in trade with a significant safety recall and turn around the next day and sell it to consumers."
-- AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson, quoted in Automotive News, "Used-Car Loophole Tightens up," February 8, 2016.
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C.A.R.S. Mission
CARS is a national, award-winning,
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advocacy organization working to
save lives, prevent injuries, and
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to everyone who has supported CARS' work, including the more than 573,500 people who have contributed financially
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CarMax sells cars with
deadly safety recall defects.
ABC's 20/20 went undercover and caught
CarMax up to their sneaky tricks.
More than 730,000 viewers have watched this video clip on CARS' YouTube channel
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Buyer Beware! Auto dealers use
forced arbitration
to get away with cheating customers
Even when car dealers flagrantly violate consumer protection laws, you may not be able to get justice. That's because almost 100% of car dealers stick "forced arbitration" clauses into their contracts. If they cheat you, and you try to take them to court, they can just laugh at you. That's because they can get your case kicked into arbitration -- a secret, rigged process that favors big, corrupt lawbreakers. The dealer often gets to choose the arbitration firm, and even the arbitrator who hears your case. Unlike judges, arbitrators are perfectly free to ignore the law.

Dealers claim that arbitration is quick. But Jon Perz in San Diego had to wait over 8 years in "arbitration limbo" before he finally got justice, after Mossy Toyota sold him an unsafe car. CARS produced a short video exposing what happened. More than 1.3 million people have watched our video on YouTube:
See the billboard CARS displayed
right next to Mossy Toyota's car lot,
and read more about how Jon finally won.

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