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: http://autoexpert.com.au/contact.)
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:
Learn what one dockside worker told me he was instructed to to to identify Captivas that were leaking oil.
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
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.