Dear Consumer Ed:
My 2006 car with 63k miles on it suddenly has a defective air bag floor harness. The dealer wants $2700 to repair it. Research shows this is a widespread problem with this vehicle, yet the manufacturer has not issued a recall. Is there any recourse?
Consumer Ed says:
Your recourse is unfortunately limited and will probably not help you avoid paying those initial repair costs. Georgia does have “Lemon Laws”, (O.C.G.A. Sections 10-1-780 et seq.) which are designed to help consumers get defective vehicles repaired; unfortunately, they would not apply to your car because of its age and mileage. These laws apply only to new motor vehicles, and only within the first two years after the date of original delivery of the vehicle to the consumer, or until the first 24,000 miles of operation after delivery of the vehicle to the original consumer, whichever occurs first.
However, there are still some things you can do. First, you may want to visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website at www.nhtsa.gov. You can file a complaint about your defective air bag floor harness, and you can also view past complaints to see if other people are having the same issue with their vehicle. Additionally, you can use the NHTSA website to see if the air bag floor harness or any other parts on your car have been recalled. Although NHTSA does not resolve individual complaints, it often conducts investigations if there are multiple consumer complaints about particular vehicle makes and models. Before initiating an investigation, NHTSA carefully reviews the body of consumer complaints and other available data to determine whether a defect trend may exist. Once it concludes an investigation, NHTSA may administer safety recalls if there are indications of serious safety defects in design, construction, or performance. If a recall for your vehicle is issued, you could qualify to be reimbursed for the repairs you have already made.
You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission through its website (www.ftc.gov). Although the FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints, the complaints help the FTC detect patterns of wrong-doing, which can lead to investigations. If an investigation culminates in an enforcement action, you could be eligible for relief if consumer restitution is part of the case’s resolution.
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