It has been estimated that over 10% of all vehicles on the road have a check engine light illuminated on their dashboard. Some consumers are diligent in maintaining their vehicles and immediately take their vehicles in so that a certified mechanic can determine what triggered the check engine light to appear. Other consumers fail to give much credence to a check engine light and simply ignore it and keep driving. Lemon law attorneys warn against the latter and advise clients to immediately address any alerts that appear on the dashboard and to properly maintain their vehicle to avoid larger, more costly problems down the road or possible complications when filing a lemon law suit.

According to the CarMD Vehicle Health Index, an annual report compiled to provide consumers information on most common automotive diagnostic trouble codes and repair costs for 1996 and newer foreign and domestic vehicles in the United States, there are five common causes of the check engine light appearing on a consumer’s dashboard. Those five causes are emission sensors, loose gas caps, catalytic converters, airflow sensors and spark plug wires. These issues may be causing a consumer’s check engine light to appear and could be an easily resolved problem or the check engine light may be signaling another, more troublesome vehicle problem requiring extensive work and repairs. When extensive vehicle repairs are unable to be resolved after a reasonable number of repair attempts, consumers often look for the assistance of the California Lemon Law and a lemon law attorney.

The California Lemon Law provides monetary relief or replacement vehicles to consumers that litigate successful lemon law claims. Where there are gray areas to the lemon law leaving room for argument by the consumer and the manufacturer, the lemon law is clear in that any material defect attributable to consumer misuse or abuse will not be the manufacturer’s responsibility and, if this is proven to be the case, the consumer will not receive compensation.

What a judge or arbitrator considers misuse or abuse of a vehicle is often debated, but, however the judge or arbitrator chooses to define it, a consumer alleging that their vehicle is defective does not want to risk losing their lawsuit due to abuse or misuse. To protect themselves, consumers should be diligent in following the maintenance schedule required under the manufacturer’s express written warranty and be timely in addressing any maintenance lights, such as the check engine light, that may appear on the dashboard. When the time comes to bring a lemon law claim before the proper authority, a consumer that has kept detailed repair records including receipts and repair orders, is less likely to spend time defending against accusations of misuse or abuse of their vehicle.