Car Sales in Australia – Do We Need Tougher Lemon Laws?

With car sales in Australia running at near-record levels, this review asks: Do we need tougher lemon laws to protect new car buyers?

There is intense competition among cars for sale, but too may turn out to be lemons. Car reviews and online car comparisons can tell you which new vehicles go, handle and ride well, and whether the new car value proposition adds up – but few insights are available about reliability, parts availability and service quality.

Of course, many new cars are affected by a recall, and there are good correlations between recalls and reliability overall. But, if you’re looking to buy a car, how do you pick one that’s not a lemon?

(You could always ask me here:

There are far too many lemons among new cars today. In this report I take a look at some vehicles that are anything but the best cars, and the effect this has on some owners.

In this car review there are several ‘don’t buy’ examples of totally lemon-scented cars:

Holden Captiva
Learn what one dockside worker told me he was instructed to to to identify Captivas that were leaking oil.

Ford Focus
The Ford Focus’s dual clutch transmission remains an embarrassment – but what is worse is the way Ford Focus owners are routinely, systematically brushed off by Ford Dealers.

Ashton Wood’s Jeep Cherokee
Mr Wood had no less that 22 critical defects in his ,000 Jeep Cherokee. The first started on day one, and the last ended when he destroyed his Jeep very publicly as a publicity stunt to highlight the need for tougher lemon laws.

Audi’s 2.0 TFSI engine
When Audi mis-managed the design of the 2.0 TFSI engine to the extent that it drinks oil excessively, did they apologise and repair it? No – they merely said the vehicle’s thirst was the new ‘normal’ and gave affected customers the brush

Death of Melissa Ryan
When Melissa Ryan was killed after her Volkswagen Golf lost power, apparently, in 2011, hundreds of similarly smitten Volkswagen owners came out of the woodwork, having experienced eerily similar problems

Volkswagen’s lawyers
When Levon Kara took action against Volkswagen for a similar fault, Volkswagen’s lawyers threatened Mr Kara’s job – and he gave up the fight.

One E-Class Mercedes-Benz owner told me his car had been defective for five years, and had been workshop-bound for months in total. Mercedes-Benz ultimately offered him a pittence for the car as a buy-back, which didn’t even cover the lease.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries is the carmakers’ political lobby group – they put up a carefully construed and, in my view, largely bullshit case against stronger lemon laws. back in 2009. Austrslian Consumer Law was upgraded in 2011 – but it’s still far too weak on the issue of Lemon cars.

If your car can’t be fixed, if it’s a lemon – you’re screwed. You are totally at the mercy of the carmaker’s capacity for good faith, in a dispute. You’re out of pocket, the car’s a shitbox, and they hold the balance of power. It’s profoundly asymmetrical, and profoundly unfair.

Australia needs far tougher lemon car laws.

25 thoughts on “Car Sales in Australia – Do We Need Tougher Lemon Laws?

  1. Australian lemon laws are too weak – leaving thousands of car buyers out in
    the cold with cars that can’t be fixed

  2. Lemon-AID

    With car sales in Australia running at near-record levels, this review
    asks: Do we need tougher lemon laws to protect new car buyers?

  3. I drive a 2012 Holden Cruze CDX
    let me tell you what i love about the car….. NOTHING
    let me tell you what parts of the car should burn in hell… EVERYTHING
    Reverse sensors don’t work, car emits a low grind when reversing (Suttons
    homebush Sydney has told me it’s a common problem with the cruze), driver
    seatbelt wasn’t locking in, i’ve had to replace the head lights 5 times in
    the past 3 years, speakers sound like shit, “leather” seats falling apart,
    i’ve had to do a wheel alignment 3 times, one of the car keys wouldn’t open
    so i was stuck at work until someone from home came and gave me a spare, I
    dropped my car in at 8am for a regular 30,000km service, i told them i’d be
    back at noon to pick the car up. i went back at 2pm and waited till 4pm
    until the car was done. how the hell does it take 8 hours to do a bloody
    regular service?

    holden = absolute shit

  4. John you legend, the lemon Cruze is going in tomorrow, hopefully it’s “on
    the house.”

    Wish I could donate mate. Thanks.

  5. If I was kia back 10 or so years ago I would refund nearly all customers
    who brought a first gen carnival. What a tragic shitbox.

    Moreover, I don’t see Holden past 2017 being called Holden as well. I’m
    also surprise how much problem people have with the focus auto, aren’t they
    like one of UK best selling cars :/?

  6. And the same manufacturers and dealers bitch about lemons possibly being
    imported into Australia as second-hand cars…

  7. I have one of those horrible Ford Focus’s. We have started a Facebook group
    to rally together.
    If anyone had a Ford Focus or fiesta with transmission issues come join us
    at “fix out Ford Focus & fiesta. 

  8. Great work on another informative upload. Its always refreshing to watch
    your unbiased reviews and reports (even if they are spoken with a bit of
    ‘rough” on the face 🙂

    Yes fully agree with the lemon laws. Funny how Australian consumer laws are
    strict in regards to consumer goods like electronics. Get a defective TV,
    full refund or replacement.. Defective car, “you got no fu*king chance of
    getting either”

    Would be nice to see a reliable car list for cars in Australia (guessing
    the Japs and Koreans would be top 3)

  9. If that isn’t fucked up, I don’t know what is. Here in the USA, there are
    laws in the book that prevent car makers from releasing a car to the public
    that they know are total lemons. There should be such laws in *every
    country* that’s dependent on the automobile. Australia should be one of
    them. That law should tell car companies to build better cars, and to
    prevent that car company from releasing the car to the public if they know
    it’s not up to Australian standard. Both safety and otherwise.

  10. Good one John. As I stated before, I worked at several European car (BMW,
    VW, Audi) dealerships through the years, and you would not want to believe
    the what gets hidden from customers. Some brand new “Premium” cars rust and
    won’t start cause of cam and valve problems coming off the boat, no joke.

  11. My dad just recently bought a Ford Fucus (expletive word for Focus), and
    already he’s been having problems. He’s never been a very good driver, so
    the problem could be his fault as well.

  12. Awesome work John! Loving the passion, keep the fire going. Btw the 5
    o’clock shadow adds to this video wonderfully :D

  13. Fantastic video as usual. Right to the point with plenty of sarcasm !
    Nothing like a straight comment in plain english ! Thanks

  14. Hi John I do believe that it is not just in Australia its the same here in
    New Zealand. That is why new car buyers need to do their assignment
    beforehand. I have watched your video on Holden last year at the time that
    I was looking to trade my car. Good that I didn’t rush as the Holden
    dealer here is giving me almost $5000 discount for a craptiva 5 otherwise I
    am owning a lemon right now.

  15. I use to own a cruze 2011 series 2.only 3 years and it started to make a
    very disturbing noise whilst reversing. Luckily I trade it in
    I also used to own a Vw beetle 2 gen model at least that one in its 6th
    year started to give problems and many times to the dealership
    In that occasion I can say Vw did pay for the big bill of the electrical
    problem but guess what another issue occurred I n quickly sold it
    So yes, Australia does need lemon laws ACCC should be in this to protect

  16. They should play videos like this on tv on Australia day. I’m the current
    owner of 3 lemons, 1 Audi, 1 Jeep and 1 hyundai. Lucky I’m rich enough to
    keep throwing money at them.
    How much would it cost to play a you tube clip of a Jeep being shot at by
    the military on say channel 9 around the country during a news break?

  17. John, I seem to remember a few years ago a BMW owner driving his car to the
    BMW headquarters in Munich, parking the car and then taking to it with a
    sledge hammer. He was showing his disgust and what he thought of BMW cars.
    BMW didn’t like the blokes idea of advertising.

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