California Lemon Law Guide: What Is a “Substantial Impairment of Use, Value or Safety”: Schreidel v. American Honda

Is your car a “lemon”?  Under the Lemon Law’s terms, you must have suffered a substantial impairment of the vehicle’s use, value or safety.    The case, Schreidel v. American Honda Motor Co., 34 Cal.App.4th 1242 (1995) provides examples.  In that case, the early appearance and repeated clutch problems caused the consumer to feel like she never had a truly new car, and scared her repeatedly when the vehicle would not shift and seemingly stall in traffic.  She repeatedly, on 15-16 occasions, would use her boyfriend’s car for out of town travel, as she had lost confidence in the vehicle.  The Court found that the Lemon Law was to protect against major, not minor, problems, and that the consumer had demonstrated legally sufficient allegations of major problems. The jury agreed, and the consumer won her case and received penalty damages given the blind eye Honda turned to her problems.  The consumer had traded-in her leased car before trial, and the money she received was deducted from her damages.

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