Brand New Cars With Transmission Problems

Anytime you shop for a vehicle, you intend to fulfill a particular purpose. It could be a pick-up truck to run business errands or an SUV to take road trips with your family. More importantly, you need a brand-new vehicle’s convenience, efficiency, and value.

Unfortunately, some new cars come with manufacturer defects, including transmission issues. It’s normal for vehicles to develop faults—something uncommon with brand-new cars. Although rare, most defects with brand-new cars are persistent and difficult to fix.

If you own a brand-new vehicle with a persistent transmission defect, you can’t rely on it to run errands. It can stall unexpectedly or fail to change gears, making driving difficult for short or long distances. Fortunately, California lemon laws protect vehicle owners who buy new and used vehicles with persistent defects whose manufacturers have been unable to fix.

If you’re stuck with a brand-new vehicle with a persistent transmission defect, consider speaking to an experienced California lemon law attorney about your legal options.

Warning Signs of a Transmission Defect

Transmission plays an essential role in a vehicle for regulating speed and torque—which enables the car to move under different driving conditions. The transmission component transfers power from the engine to the drive shaft and differential and, as a result lets the vehicle move.

A vehicle with a transmission defect loses its reliability, convenience, and comfort among other features. Here are the warning signs of a transmission defect:

  • Failure to Engage or Stay in Gear: If you try to engage a gear, the vehicle fails to recognize the prompt. Unfortunately, when a gear fails to engage, it causes the car to stall. The common causes include a misaligned clutch housing, defective brake safety lock, low transmission fluid, and a misaligned gearbox.
  • Leaking Transmission Fluid: If you notice a red fluid under your vehicle’s hood, the transmission fluid might be leaking. The leak can occur at the cooler line, gasket, or seal. A leaking transmission increases the risk of fire in case it contacts a hot metal part. It also increases the cost of maintaining the vehicle. Lastly, a leaking transmission fluid can cause significant damage to the engine.
  • Delayed Shifting:  A vehicle with a defective transmission can take a while before engaging a gear. Causes of delayed shifting include a bad torque converter, a clogged gear filter, a faulty solenoid, and a burned clutch disc.
  • Noises When in Neutral: When your vehicle has a transmission defect, you’ll likely hear clicking, buzzing, humming, and roaring noises inside the transmission. It could indicate the need to change the transmission fluid if it isn’t a major issue. The strange noises may also indicate a bad bearing, planetary gear damage, or faulty internal sealing.
  • Burning Smell: You may also experience a burning smell under the vehicle’s hood. It may indicate that the transmission is overheating or the fluid is old.
  • Slipping Transmission: It is a scary scenario if the gears impulsively slip in and out of place. A slipping gear is also a considerable hazard if it occurs while driving in the middle of a highway. You’ll notice the gear has slipped if the engine starts revving during a gear change. A slipping gear often feels like driving on ice with no real traction on the road.
  • Check Engine Light: A check engine light can indicate a transmission defect, which may be slight or significant.

If your brand-new vehicle has a persistent transmission defect that the manufacturer has been unable to solve, you may be eligible for a refund or recall. That said, consider hiring an experienced California lemon law attorney to enhance your chances of success.

Common Transmission Recalls

Nissan Transmission Recalls

Although Nissan is a famous automaker, vehicle owners have experienced varying transmission defects.  As a result, Nissan has issued the following recalls to address the complaints.

  • 2015 Nissan Rogue:  Nissan issued a recall notice due to a problem with the shift selector knob, prompting the vehicle to move out of ‘Park’ position without depressing the brake pedal. A vehicle with a defective shift selector knob may unexpectedly roll, increasing the risk of crash.
  • 2020 Nissan Titan: On September 7, 2022, Nissan issued a recall dubbed ‘’unsecured transmission may cause rollaway’’. According to the notice, the parking pawl when the vehicle is shifted into park, causing the car to roll away. The recall affected the 2020-2023 Titan,  2023 Z, and 2020-2022 Frontier vehicles.

Ford Transmission Recalls

Here are a few recalls issued by Ford over the years to solve transmission defects:

  • 2013-2019 Ford Escape: On June 10, 2022, Ford issued a recall potentially affecting 3 million vehicles. The affected models had a damaged or missing bushing, which prevented them from shifting into the intended gear. The vehicle may also roll after engaging the ‘Park’ position, increasing the risk of crash or injury.
  • Defective Torque Converter: On June 23, 2020, Ford issued a recall targeting specific units of 2020 Ford Super-Duty F-250, F-550 diesel pickups, and F-350. The affected vehicles had a torque converter damper plate, which may fracture, demanding additional braking effort, a defect that increases the risk of crash.

Hyundai Transmission Recalls

Here are a few transmission recalls issued by Hyundai:

  • 2021-2022 Hyundai Santa Fe: Hyundai Motor America issued a recall to repair a defect affecting the 8-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) system. The communication also targeted 2021-2022 Sonata, Veloster N, Santa Cruz, and KonaN vehicles.
  • 2016 Hyundai Tucson: Many drivers complained that their vehicles failed to accelerate from a stop. Other vehicles lost power at low speeds or produced a warning light on the dashboard. While driving in certain conditions, the car may fail to move if you press and release the accelerator repeatedly.

Chevrolet Transmission Recalls

General Motors has issued the following recalls to cure persistent transmission defects:

  • Transmission Built With Incorrect Sun Gear: On March 16, 2023, General Motors issued a recall targeting certain GMC Acadia, 2023 Cadillac XT6, Chevrolet Blazer, and 2022-2023 Cadillac XT5 vehicles. According to the notice, as the half-shaft disengages from the transmission, it can result in loss of drive power.
  • 2019-2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500: In October 2020, General Motors recalled particular GMC Sierra 1500, 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 trucks, and 2019-2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 vehicles. According to the notice, one of the drive shaft joints was improperly welded, causing it to separate as the vehicle moved. Unfortunately, if the drive shaft separates, the vehicle may lose propulsion, increasing the risk of a crash.

Brand New Vehicles Covered By Lemon Laws

California lemon laws cover new and used vehicles with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. Here are examples of covered vehicles:

  • Vans, SUVs, cars, and pick-up trucks
  • Vehicles bought or leased for commercial purposes
  • Chassis, chassis cab, and drivetrain of a motorhome
  • Vehicles purchased or leased for personal, family, or household reasons
  • Dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators

If the dealer or manufacturer can not repair a transmission defect after a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts, the manufacturer must either:

  • Replace the vehicle
  • Refund the buying price—whichever you prefer.

How to Determine a ‘’Reasonable Number’’ of Repair Attempts

Each time there’s a lemon law claim, the judge or arbitrator must be convinced that the manufacturer had a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts before making a decision. Similarly, a consumer has to inform the automaker about the defect and give them a reasonable window to solve the problem.

The answer to the above question depends on the circumstances and severity of the defect. For instance, if the transmission defect endangers the life of the driver and its vehicle occupants, the automaker has up to two attempts to fix it.

If a transmission defect is a mere source of nuisance, an automaker has up to five attempts to fix the fault. More importantly, a consumer has the right to keep returning to the dealership until there is a solution to the problem.

A manufacturer has a limited window to fix the defect. Therefore, the vehicle should not spend more than 30 days in the repair shop.

Ultimately, no set number determines a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts.

Even so, California lemon law presumption offers the following guidelines to determine if a manufacturer has made a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts:

  • The manufacturer or dealer hasn’t fixed the defect after four more attempts
  • The vehicle could cause death or severe injury—if driven— and the dealership has made two unsuccessful repair attempts
  • The vehicle has been in the repair shop for more than 30 days— not necessarily consecutive— for a warranty-covered defect.

California lemon law presumption applies to vehicles bought in California that have developed defects within 18,000 miles or 18 months, whichever comes first.

The above guidelines offer a mere direction; only a judge or arbitrator can rule whether a manufacturer has made a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts to fix the defect. In addition, some manufacturers dispute that the consumers did not give them a fair chance to solve the issue, which can delay or deny your protection under lemon law.

That said, consider working closely with an experienced lemon law attorney who will defend you against an automaker and enforce your lemon law rights.

How Does a Transmission Defect Qualify for Lemon Law Protection

A vehicle qualifies for lemon law protection if it has a substantial defect that affects its value, use, and safety.

Examples of significant defects that are eligible for lemon law protection include:

  • A faulty transmission
  • Defective airbags
  • Faulty seat belts
  • Electrical system failure
  • Engine defects
  • Fuel system defects
  • Anti-lock brake system failure
  • Power steering loss

While lemon law offers protection against many substantial defects, there are still a few exceptions, including:

  • Transmission Defects Caused By Accidents: It is common for vehicles to develop faults after an accident if after complete repairs. In spite of an existing warranty, lemon law doesn’t cover defects arising from accidents.
  • Transmission Defects Due to Owner Negligence: You must maintain your vehicle in good condition to enjoy lemon law protection. Unfortunately, a defect due to owner negligence doesn’t enjoy lemon law protection.
  • Transmission Defect Due to Unauthorized Repair or Alteration: The manufacturer warranty terms require consumers to take their vehicles for repairs to an authorized dealership. If you decide to perform do-it-yourself(DIY) repairs or take it to an independent repair shop, you could void your warranty and lemon law protection.

How to File a Lemon Law Claim

While consumer rights are secure under California lemon laws, understanding the steps of filing a claim enhances your chances.

Here is a brief outlook of the steps:

Step 1: Take the Vehicle to the Dealership for Repairs

Take your vehicle to an authorized dealership to protect your rights under California lemon law.

Step 2: Gather Evidence

Similar to all legal matters, the success of a lemon law claim improves with the availability of evidence. Compile copies of necessary documentation, including repair orders, repair invoices, manufacturer warranties, purchase or lease documents, and accident history.

Step 3: Hire a Lemon Law Attorney

Once you’ve gathered the necessary documents, it may be time to speak to a lemon law attorney. An attorney will offer direction to your case and create a winning strategy. The attorney will also provide legal advice and guide you through the process.

Step 4: Negotiate a Settlement

The automaker will table an offer if they agree with your claim. The attorney will evaluate and negotiate for a better amount. The attorney can also represent you in court if the manufacturer refuses to settle or offers unfavorable terms.

Get Legal Help From an Experienced California Lemon Law Attorney

It is a painful experience to own a brand-new car with a transmission problem. For instance, the vehicle could suddenly fail to engage gears or stay in gear on the highway, exposing you and other road users to the crash risk.

That said, consider hiring an experienced lemon law attorney to increase your chances of success while pursuing lemon law rights.

LemonLaw123 has a team of highly experienced lemon law attorneys ready to fight for your rights. Contact us online or call us at 657.529.5239 for a free case review.

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell, known as The Lemon Law Lady, has dedicated her entire legal career to the specialized field of Lemon Law, a journey that began immediately after her
graduation from UCLA School of Law.

With a 99% success rate and a policy of no fees unless you win, her practice stands as a testament to her expertise in California’s Lemon Law, her commitment to her clients, and her unwavering dedication to justice and consumer rights.

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