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Does ECU failure twice mean I bought a lemon?

I need help from someone who knows more about cars than l do. I bought my 2017 Honda CR-V in April 2017. 9 days after I bought it, it just stopped working. It wouldn’t start at all. The dealer told me that the whole computer system for the car was faulty and they replaced it. It has been running fine for the 14 months since it was replaced. However, I think it just happened again. The car just stopped working. It has been towed to the dealer and I am waiting to hear what the issue is.
My question is: if this is another failed computer, does that qualify as a lemon? My understanding is that if the same serious safety defect occurs twice with 24 months of buying the car, it is a lemon. (I live in Washington, by the way.) Obviously after what I went through last year, I am very concerned. But I can’t find a list anywhere of what problems are considered “serious safety defects.” Any thoughts on the matter are much appreciated. Thanks!

Wait until you hear from the dealer to file for lemon law. Under the law of most states, for a vehicle to be considered a lemon , the car must 1) have a “substantial defect,” covered by warranty, that occurs within a certain time after purchase, and 2) continue to have the defect after a “reasonable number” of repair attempts.


I don’t think they would consider the computer system a “safety defect”.

It would be a Nonconformity

A ‘nonconformity’ is a defect that “substantially impairs” the use, value or safety of the motor vehicle making the vehicle unreliable, unsafe for ordinary use or diminished in resale value compared to equivalent vehicles.

1. Unrepaired Nonconformity
A ‘nonconformity’ covered by a manufacturer warranty where:

  • The ‘nonconformity has been subject to diagnosis or repair four or more times including at least once during the period of the manufacturer’s written warranty and during the“eligibility period” (see What Is The Eligibility Period?)

  • The nonconformity continues to exist

  • The consumer sent a written request to the manufacturer asking for repurchase or replacement of the vehicle

  • The manufacturer failed to respond or did not reach a resolution with the consumer within 40 days.

Serious Safety Defect
A ‘serious safety defect’ is a life-threatening malfunction that impairs the driver’s ability to control or operate the vehicle, or creates a risk of fire or explosion.

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Okay. Thanks for responding. I just wasn’t sure if this fell under a safety defect. It seems bigger than a nonconformity because it makes the vehicle completely inoperable. You can’t turn it on or use it or even unlock the doors with the remote. This is my first new car and it’s so completely reliant on the computer! There not even a way to start it with an actual key. Just the push button. Ugh.
Thanks for your answers!

Your car is supposed to run right for 3 years/36,000 miles. That includes your computer. I almost got a lemon law replacement for an air conditioner compressor. You need to determine what constitutes a lemon in your state and follow the instructions to a T. In Maryland, the dealer was allowed six trys to fix the defect. The owner has to notify the manufacturer before the sixth try, and they’re will notify the dealer.

I can’t speak for Washington but generally a Lemon Law is for the first year of ownership and requires 3 good faith efforts to repair it.

Just some food thought. What if the original computer was not the problem? What if it’s a shaky pin in the PCM connector or some fluky problem in the wire harness that just happened to reappear after 14 months?
An intermittent can be difficult to sort out unless it fails and stays faIled until diagnosed.

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I have heard of fried ecu after disconnection of the battery in Hondas. would this be the case?

I believe the ECU would be covered under the mandatory emissions warranty of 8 years/80,000 miles.

A common reason for a damaged ECU is when your car is used to jump start another car, or if another car jump starts your car. Suggest to avoid both those scenarios going forward.

A lot of unknowns here. One is whether the first diagnosis was correct, 2nd is we don’t know what the current problem or diagnosis is.
I think a 2017 car that decides not to start at random times could be considered a lemon. Safety is a relative thing. The car not starting at certain places around midnight could be a safety issue.
I will keep records and if the dealer is not helpful call the regional rep.
I also have a bad feeling about this problem being fixed now (which would make you not to be able to file a lemon suit), only to return when your warranty runs out.

If the vehicle “stopped working” while driving 65 MPH that would be a safety issue, if the vehicle is in your garage and won’t start that is an inconvenience.

What was the cause of the no start condition this time? If the vehicle was towed this time because of a dead battery the lemon law is not in the picture.