New Car Breakdown Leads to Replacement Under Lemon Law

A week after Taggart Plain bought his dream car and drove it off the dealership lot, the car broke down.

“I just got a new job and I wanted a new car,” Taggart Plain said. 

In March, after months of research, Taggart said he went to Westcott Mazda in National City to buy what he thought would be the perfect car. For six days after the purchase, everything was going great for Taggart’s dark blue Mazda 3, until something unexpected happened. 

“All of a sudden the car started sputtering,” Taggart said. “All the lights on the dash came on, check engine and everything, and it just died.” 

Taggart had the car towed back to Westcott Mazda where he said it stayed for four weeks. From the ignition coil to the onboard computer, he said the technicians, continued to tell him the problem was something else. Taggart said nothing seemed to work. 

“I never thought it would take this long,” he said. 

When the repairs didn’t work, Taggart asked for a new car. He said the dealership agreed but only if he paid them $1,600 for taxes and a license fee. Taggart said he didn’t think that was fair. 

“I would like a new car, a replacement car, not that car because I’m not sure it’s reliable,” Taggart said. “I think it’s a lemon.” 

According to California lemon law standards, if a newly purchased car breaks down, the dealership has thirty days to make the repair. In Taggart’s case, the dealership’s repair took over a month to complete. 

Taggart contacted NBC 7 Responds and we reached out to Westcott Mazda. When the dealership wouldn’t respond to our calls, we turned to Mazda’s U.S. Corporate Headquarters. 

Mazda acknowledged Taggart’s car was covered by California’s Lemon Law and found him the replacement car he was looking for. 

“Same one I had before except this one actually runs properly and the check engine light doesn’t come on,” Taggart said. 

In a statement, Jacob Brown with Mazda’s U.S. Corporate Headquarters said, “it is our goal to delight customer with our Mazda cars and crossovers and throughout their ownership experiences. We’re glad Mr. Plain’s situation was resolved with a positive outcome, and we hope he enjoys his new Mazda3 for many years to come.”

To read more from the Department of Consumer Affairs on California's lemon law, click here.

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