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NHTSA Won’t Investigate Car Defects During Government Shutdown

» Posted January 21, 2019Resources | Share This Post

The ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government is having a wide range of impacts, from reportedly slowing lines at airports around the country to stifling food and drug inspectors. For car owners, there’s another important group of federal employees sidelined by the government funding snafu: workers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Transportation Department—the sprawling umbrella agency under which NHTSA operates—is caught up in the shutdown. The only DOT operations still open during the partial shutdown are those funded by the federal highway bill. NHTSA and other sub-agencies still waiting for 2019 funding are currently shuttered, the Detroit Free Press explains.

NHTSA officials confirmed with the paper that its workers are largely furloughed as part of the shutdown. That means they won’t be performing investigations into reports and complaints of vehicle defects. NHTSA creates and enforces vehicle safety standards, including by investigating safety complaints and overseeing car and auto part recalls. That work is largely not considered “essential” meaning that the agency can’t bring employees back in to continue enforcement during the shutdown.

“If NHTSA becomes aware of an imminent threat to the safety of human life that could be caused by defective or noncompliant motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment, NHTSA will respond to protect safety,” the agency told the Free Press. “Furthermore, federal law requires that all vehicle manufacturers issue appropriate recalls when a manufacturer becomes aware of any defect in the design, manufacture or performance of any motor vehicle, or noncompliance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.”

State Law Protections for California Car Buyers

The feds may be limited in what they can do to combat car defects during the shutdown, but state law offers some important protections for car buyers in California.

The California lemon law forces manufacturers to take responsibility for defective cars when they’re still under warranty.

The law requires car makers to repair various defects and other problems with a covered vehicle. If those efforts don’t work, the manufacturer is required to compensate the owner for the purchase price and/or down payment and financing charges, as well as other expenses like car rentals, towing and repair costs. The manufacturer may also offer to replace the car instead.

The law applies to both new and used cars, if repair attempts happen during the vehicle’s warranty period. The number of repair attempts required for the law to kick in depends on the situation.

Talk With an Experienced California Lemon Law Lawyer

If you’re a California car owner driving a lemon, it is vital that you consult an experienced lawyer to consider your rights an options. The California Lemon Law attorneys at the Bickel Law Firm have represented hundreds of clients in defective vehicle cases across the state. We understand the significant stress that can come with haggling with car dealers and manufacturers. Our lawyers work aggressively to resolve these cases for the people that we represent.

Our offices are conveniently located in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Call us at (888) 800-1983 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.


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