CACI No. 3204. “Substantially Impaired” Explained

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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3204.“Substantially Impaired” Explained
In deciding whether a reasonable person would believe that the vehicle’s
defect[s], if any, substantially impaired the vehicle’s use, value, or safety,
you may consider, among other factors, the following:
(a) [The nature of the defect[s];]
(b) [The cost and length of time required for repair;]
(c) [Whether past repair attempts have been successful;]
(d) [The degree to which the vehicle could be used while awaiting
(e) [The availability and cost of comparable transportation during
the repairs;] [and]
(f) [Insert other appropriate factor.]
New February 2005; Revised December 2005
Directions for Use
Some or all of the stated factors may not be necessary in every case. Depending on
the facts of the case, other factors may be added as appropriate.
Sources and Authority
“Whether the impairment is substantial is determined by an objective test, based
on what a reasonable person would understand to be a defect. This test is
applied, however, within the specific circumstances of the buyer.” (Lundy v. Ford
Motor Co. (2001) 87 Cal.App.4th 472, 478 [104 Cal.Rptr.2d 545], internal
citations omitted.)
“The issue of whether the problems constituted substantial impairment is one for
the trier of fact.” (Schreidel v. American Honda Motor Co. (1995) 34
Cal.App.4th 1242, 1250 [40 Cal.Rptr.2d 576], internal citations omitted.)
“The term [‘substantially’] modifies its object, ‘impairment.’ It injects an element
of degree; not every impairment is sufficient to satisfy the statute. The most
analogous definition of ‘substantially’ we have found in a context similar to its
usage here is in the Uniform Commercial Code, section 2-608. Like the clause at
issue here, this provision requires a determination of whether a defect
‘substantially impairs’ the value of goods sold to a buyer. Under it, the trier of
fact may consider: ‘the nature of the defects; the cost and length of time
required for repair; whether past repair attempts have been successful; the degree
to which the goods can be used while repairs are attempted; [inconvenience to
buyer]; and the availability and cost of alternative goods pending repair . . . .’ It
may be that this term, like ‘reasonable,’ is incapable of precise definition. At the
least, the requirement is not satisfied by any impairment, however insignificant,
that affects use, value, or safety.” (Lundy, supra, 87 Cal.App.4th at p. 478,
internal citations omitted.)
Secondary Sources
4 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Sales, §§ 323-330
8 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 91, Automobiles: Actions Involving
Defects and Repairs, §§ 91.12[2], 91.64 (Matthew Bender)
44 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 502, Sales: Warranties, § 502.53
(Matthew Bender)
20 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 206, Sales, §§ 206.104, 206.127 (Matthew

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