What happens if the dealership you bought a vehicle from shuts down while it’s still under warranty?
Are you out of luck for warranty service or repairs?
Volvo owners in Bakersfield, CA experienced this issue first hand.
Back in 2019, a high-end Volvo dealership closed its doors after two decades in Bakersfield following an agreement with the manufacturer – making it the city’s third high-end car lot to close this year!
Volvo and Sangera Automotive Group ended their partnership back in April of 2019.
“A decision was made between us and Volvo to dissolve the partnership,” said General Manager Damon Culbertson. “We just decided that we were going to do a different direction.”
Hundreds of Volvo owners were furious after learning that the Bakersfield dealership did nothing to warrant this action by the manufacturer. The most concerning part of this ordeal was that Volvo refused to allow the dealership to perform warranty service and repairs for the Volvos they sold.
To make matters worse, the next closest Volvo dealership is roughly 100 miles away. While Volvo could potentially allow an independent shop to perform the necessary repairs covered under the warranty, the customer would need to pay the shop first and be reimbursed later. That is if the independent repair shop uses original Volvo parts.
But what about people who couldn’t afford to cover the cost of the repair attempt out of their pocket?
Are they expected to drive 100 miles to a Volvo dealer with a faulty vehicle??
Based on the circumstances; it seems Volvo’s position is that the consumer must drive 100 miles or pay-out-of-pocket.
What Are Your Rights?
If you are currently facing a similar situation, the good news is that the law is on your side.
Under the Consumer Protection Law, auto manufacturers are required to “maintain sufficient service and repair facilities reasonably close to all areas where its consumer goods are sold to carry out the terms of those warranties.” This was paraphrased from Section 1793.2 of California Law.
To go over the basics of lemon law California presumption, your new or used Volvo may have one or more of the following criteria:
- The manufacturer (or certified dealership) has made at least two or more attempts to repair a safety concern covered under the warranty.
- The manufacturer has made four or more attempts to repair a defect covered under the warranty.
- The vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 total days to repair any number of defects covered under the warranty.
Despite the above, as long as the vehicle is covered under warranty, you can receive benefits under lemon law California – even if the three criteria above don’t apply. All that is needed under California’s lemon law is A. that there is a defect; and B. that the manufacturer, through its authorized repair facility, is given a reasonable opportunity to repair the defective condition.
The interesting thing about this situation in Bakersfield was that many Volvo customers simply cannot get their vehicles to an authorized repair facility for the manufacturer to make ANY repair attempts!
In this sticky scenario, Volvo owners might be eligible even with less than two repair attempts, because not having sufficient repair facilities amounts to a violation of lemon law California. Under California Lemon Law, the owner of a lemon vehicle can recover a vehicle buy-back and Civil Penalty damages if they can establish that the manufacturer willingly violated the lemon law and failed to meet the obligations mandated.
It is the author’s belief, the distance to the nearest Volvo dealership to be unreasonable for Bakersfield owners.
In this case, your vehicle might be deemed a lemon based on the circumstances, in which the manufacturer would be required to provide a buyback or replacement of the vehicle.
What Can You Do?
As a rightfully disgruntled Volvo owner in Bakersfield – or someone in a similar situation – there are a few things you can do to get the ball rolling in getting the justice you deserve from the manufacturer.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Specialized Help!
Going up against a giant auto manufacturer with a global footprint is no easy feat. These companies have some of the best legal teams that money can buy. Moreover, they are highly trained in capitalizing on the average consumer’s lack of legal knowledge.
That being said, affected Volvo owners in Bakersfield are very wise to seek out the assistance of a specialized California lemon law attorney. In addition to serving as a lemon law lawyer in Bakersfield, Cline APC proudly serves Bakersfield and the surrounding areas.
At Cline, APC, we begin by taking the following actions:
- The manufacturer’s official mailing address from the owner’s manual as follows: If your Volvo is 2009 or newer, you can download the Owner’s Manual App. Currently, these are the mailing addresses listed:
- Volvo Car USA LLC – 1 Volvo Drive, P.O Box 914, Rockleigh, New Jersey 07647
- Volvo Car Financial Services – P.O Box 91300, Mobile, AL 36691-1300
- Sending a formal legal demand letter on behalf of our clients with the following information:
- Name and VIN number.
- Legal discussion of the Volvo local dealership closure and the legal requirement by both state and federal law to arrange for a facility to carry out the necessary repairs and service covered under the warranty.
- Explanation of the unrealistic expectation for consumers to cover the repair costs out of pocket or to drive the distance to a Volvo dealership. This could be due to the nature of the defect, a health condition, or predefined obligations that inhibit our clients’ ability to make the long trip.
- Based on the circumstances, send copies of the demand to one, or more, of the following entities:
- The Federal Trade Commission
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Your State Congressperson
- Your Federal Congressperson
Here are the addresses for the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau addresses:
- FTC Headquarters – 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – P.O Box 2900, Clinton, IA 52733-2900
Getting responses from any of these federal institutions may make a difference in court.
Finally, be sure to reach out to a California lemon law attorney for help. Please visit our website for further information: Lemon Law Attorney in Bakersfield, Cline APC proudly serving Bakersfield and the surrounding areas along with the 99.