Why you should take it back while you are negotiating your lemon vehicle settlement
We want to let you know about a common tactic we see many manufacturers and dealers use and how you can deal with it. Many times they say that since you have not been back to the repair shop recently then that means your vehicle is now fixed and they won't do anything more for you. That is why we recommend that even though you are working on a settlement with the factory, you should continue to go back for more repairs whenever something is wrong. If you have an attorney already, then before you do anything at all, talk to him or her about how they want you to handle it. We generally recommend that you continue to complain all through your lemon law case. But you have to complain the right way so that you have a record of your complaints. Here's how to complain right and be able to prove your vehicle is a lemon later on if you need to.
Make a list and check it twice.
Before you make the next service appointment, write out a list of every complaint you have. Without a prepared list, you may forget something. Also, without a list made in advance, the dealer may not write down all your complaints. If you don't have a document to prove you complained about something, manufacturers tend to deny you complained at all. You can't trust your dealer to do it right, so you have to. And put each of your complaints on the list in plain language and words. Make it short and simple. Avoid technical terms.
Make 2 copies of your list and leave one at home.
Make TWO copies of your complaint list. Leave one copy at home. When you go to the dealership, give them the other copy. They may say they don't need it. Tell them you want them to have it anyway and to put it in their repair file on your vehicle. Dealer service writers often will ask you what your complaints are and then type in their own version of what you said - and it may not be right. If you sign that badly worded repair order, then the manufacturer can later argue that you agreed that their description was the correction description and if it doesn't fit what you now are saying, then they will say that repair doesn't count because it isn't the same. That can make it hard for you to later claim that you really said something else. If you give them your written list, there is no misunderstanding of what your complaint really was about. That's also why you leave one copy of it at home too - you have to be able to prove it later.
Make an advance appointment and ask for a free loaner.
Call and make your service appointment in advance. And ask for a free loaner. If you just show up at the service department they may not write up a repair document at all - and if they don't then you have no proof you were ever even there and no proof that the shop did anything at all. Call and make the appointment and tell them that you want a free loaner. Some dealers will do it and some won't. Asking for it may not get you a free loaner (but it might), and the real point is to remind the dealer that you are their customer and if they don't treat you good then you may end up being someone else's customer next time. Sometimes, it works. But don't forget that most of the time you will not have any legal right to demand a free loaner when your car is in the shop for warranty repairs. If you get one, it's a gift.
Arrive for your service appointment a few minutes early.
Arrive for your appointment a few minutes early and give them that same list that you made in step #2 above. Even if the service writer says they don't need it, insist they take it anyway and tell them to "keep it in my file." That way you can prove exactly what you were complaining about on that date. Remember that if it isn't written down, then the factory will not believe it happened or that you were there or that you complained about what you later say was wrong.
Don't accept your vehicle back until they say it is fixed.
Don't accept your car back from the dealer until they say it's fixed. They might say that they have to order a part and that it's okay for you to drive it until the part arrives a few days later. Don't. Just say, "Okay so you are telling me it is not fixed? Then, when you get it fixed, let me know. I am not going to drive a car that is not fixed." Insist on it. Dealers know that they can't keep a vehicle for too many days or you may end up having the right to make them take it back and get your money back or a new car, so they want you to get it out of their shop. Also when you take your car home in the middle of a repair, the dealer often leaves the repair order "open" so it looks like you were only in the shop one time when, in reality, it was twice. That can hurt your legal rights. Don't take your vehicle home. Leave it there. As sure as you do, they'll get those parts in faster and get it fixed faster. And if they don't? Well, that's what Lemon Law lawyers are for
Don't leave without your repair paperwork.
When your vehicle repairs are finished, don't leave the dealership without a repair document that shows what they did on your car while they had it. Make sure it shows the correct date that you dropped it off and the correct date that you picked it up too. Days out of service are important. Some dealers make their paperwork look like your car was only there one day when it was there more than that. Make sure the dates are accurate or write the correct dates on it yourself. And also make sure that you understand what the repair paper says too. If they wrote down that they inspected some mysterious part that you have no idea about, make them write it out in plain and simple wording. And if they won't, then you should ask for an explanation and then write it down yourself. Write it on the repair document itself.
Leave the repair shop with your vehicle. Don't go back that same day either.
They said they fixed your vehicle? Okay then, leave with your vehicle. Don't go back that day unless it is an emergency. On your way home you may notice that some of your complaints don't seem to have been fixed at all. Do NOT turn around and go back to the dealership. Go home. Wait until the next day and then call the dealership and make another appointment to take it back on another date. Do NOT take it back that same day. If you return on the same day, then the dealer may count both trips as only one and they may not write up another repair order at all. For you, two repair trips is always better than one repair trip when you have a lemon.
Keep your repair papers at home - never in your vehicle.
Keep your repair documents in your house in one file, all of them in one place. Never keep any of your repair documents in your car's glove box (or anywhere else in the vehicle). If they go missing then you have no proof you were at the dealership at all. And it is that proof - your repair papers - that is your real leverage to get the manufacturer to admit your car was a lemon. Keep all your papers in a safe place at home, all together. You may think that the dealer will have a complete copy of your repair record, right? Not necessarily true. And what they do have may not be accurate. It is always better to have your own records and notes. And it is always better to keep them in a safe place.
And it if doesn't work out, what is next?
If you can't get your lemon car dispute resolved and settled on your own, then you will need to talk to an experienced Lemon Law attorney near you.The attorney will need a copy of all your repair records and notes to understand your vehicle's history. They may also need to provide copies to the factory during their negotiation too. A dealer does not always submit copies of your repair papers to the factory or warranty company so it is important that you keep your own set of accurate repair records. And make diary notes of everything that is happening during all the repair trips too.
Additional resources provided by the author
Remember Murphy's Law. As sure as you do these things, we'll get your case settled. As sure as you don't do these things, you will wish you did. Meanwhile, here are some links to resources that may be helpful and informative.