California Lemon Law Tips
Think You Have a California Lemon? Here Are 10 Ways to Protect Yourself.
1. First and foremost make sure that the service writer writing up your complaints does so accurately and exactly as you describe them. Service writers frequently use shorthand or abbreviated versions of your complaints which may later be to your detriment when trying to prove that you have given the manufacturer a reasonable number of opportunities to repair your vehicle. Be sure to get a copy of your work order before you leave the dealership; make sure it is accurate; and be sure to sign it.
2. Also, make sure that you receive and keep copies of the work order and of the repair order after the work has been completed. Do not accept either the work order or the repair order if your complaints are not stated accurately or are just summarized or written up ambiguously. If you are not satisfied with the description of your complaints have the service writer rewrite the work order.
3, Make sure that you give the dealer an opportunity to repair your vehicle upon the first appearance of a substantial problem. Under the California lemon laws the manufacturer is allowed to deduct a usage fee which is based in part on the odometer mileage at the time of the first repair attempt for a problem that cannot be fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts. The usage fee is not, however, determined by complaints regarding such relatively minor problems as squeaks or rattles. Instead, it is based on repair attempts pertaining to a substantial manufacturing problem or problems affecting the safety, value, or use of your vehicle which problems cannot be fixed after repeated repair attempts.
4. When you bring your car to the dealership to be repaired ask the service writer whether there are any TSB's (Technical Service Bulletins) which have been issued by the manufacturer pertaining to the same or similar complaint. If any TSB's exist be certain that a notation is made of that on the work order or repair order. Normally the dealership will not tell you of the existence of the TSB unless you specifically ask.
5. If you are bringing your vehicle in for repeated repairs of the same complaint, try to be as consistent as possible in expressing your concern. Under the California lemon law the manufacturer, that is its authorized repair facility, must be given a "reasonable" number of chances to fix the problem. Being consistent in describing your complaint will help to prove that you are complaining about the same problem and have given the dealer a reasonable number of chances to fix it, which will make your lemon law claim easier to prove and win.
6. Stand firm in your complaint. If, when you go to pick up your vehicle, the dealer has written on your repair order that the mechanic "could not duplicate" your problem, or words to that effect, demand that the service advisor or a service manager go for a test drive with you to try to duplicate your complaint during the drive. If the service advisor or the service manager confirms your complaint, make sure that the repair order itself states something to the effect that the technician has been able to verify your concerns.
7. If after you leave the dealership, the same problem recurs, and though it may only be five minutes later, bring the vehicle back to the dealership and have them write up a new repair order. This is important to show that you have given the dealer another chance to fix the same problem that you are complaining about. Dealerships will frequently try to tack new complaints onto existing repair orders in order to show that they have not been given a "reasonable" number of opportunities to repair the manufacturing defect.
8. Be wary of any legal advice given to you by the dealer's or the manufacturer's employees. They are not attorneys and though it may not necessarily be deliberate, and in fact perhaps intended to be well-meaning, their misunderstanding of the California lemon laws may be significantly different than what the law actually states. Therefore, you may be getting bad advice which may be harmful to your case or in making your decision as to whether to pursue a California lemon law claim. Any such "legal advice" which you receive from the dealer or manufacturer should be verified with a qualified lemon law firm such as ours before making any decision as to how to proceed. You can always call us at 888-395-3666 to receive a prompt and reliable answer.
9. Finally, do not be talked into filing an arbitration claim. Some dealers and manufacturers not only recommend arbitration as the best way to solve your problem but even suggest that it is a mandatory requirement before proceeding with your California lemon law claim. That is absolutely not true. Arbitrators may have little or no legal training and after you have gone through the process of completing the forms and perhaps even an arbitration proceeding, if the arbitrator should rule against you then that ruling can have significant negative impact on any future legal action you may bring against the manufacturer.
10. By following these steps will help you to establish a complete record of the repair history which will be very helpful to help you to win your case. Now you need to take the next step and call our offices at 888-EX-LEMON (888-395-3666) or complete and e-mail our easy submittal form.
If you are in California call our Lemon Law Offices:
Anywhere in California (free call): 1.888.ExLemon (395.3666)
- California Lemon Law in Los Angeles: 310-475-1700
- California Lemon Law in San Francisco: 415-285-5366
- California Lemon Law in San Diego: 619-229-6900
- California Lemon Law in Orange County: 949-856-4333
- California Lemon Law in Palm Springs: 760-395-1000
- California Lemon Law in San Fernando Valley: 818-837-0500