When Gross Vehicle Weight Means Gross Vehicle Weight

As a practicing California Lemon Law attorney for over 20 years, I have heard a lot of legal and factual arguments. After all, argument is the business of a litigation attorney. But sometimes a side takes a legal position that, well, doesn’t make much sense. Of course I have never done so (sarcasm).

One such nonsensical legal position was taken by Ford Motor Company regarding vehicle weight. The weight of a vehicle is significant under the California Lemon Law when applying the Lemon Law to a business use vehicle. The Ca Lemon Law will apply to a business use vehicle if, among other things, its gross vehicle weight (GVW) is less than 10,000 pounds.

Now for vehicles there are typically two weight categories – GVW and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). GVW means the actual weight of the vehicle and GVWR means the entire weight the vehicle may haul or tow including the weight of the vehicle. So, obviously, these two terms are different. A vehicle may actually weigh less than 10,000 pounds (GVW) but be capable of towing or hauling, plus adding the weight of the vehicle, well in excess of 10,000 pounds (GVWR).

For several years Ford argued that GVW actually meant GVWR. So, according to Ford, if a business use vehicle’s GVWR was in excess of 10,000 pounds the California Lemon Law would not apply regardless of the vehicle’s actual GVW. Ford took this position due to the fact that its F-Series (F250, F350, F450, F550) 6.0 and 6.4 liter diesel engine trucks were, and are, extremely problematic. Many of these F-Series diesel engine trucks are used for business purposes. So Ford’s weight approach was designed to eliminate these business use vehicle Lemon Law claims because the GVWR of all of these vehicles is well in excess of 10,000 pounds.

Fortunately, Ford’s weight approach was shot down in Joyce v. Ford Motor Company (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 1478. In Joyce, the court held that GVW and GVWR do not mean the same thing. (What a shock!) The court also held that GVW means the total overall weight that the vehicle weighs.

So now that this issue is resolved, I’ll have to wait for the next nonsensical legal or factual argument, unless I make one myself first.

For a free personal consultation concerning the California Lemon Law, you may contact David Farrell via phone toll free (866) 360-6886, form or e-mail.

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