Before you make that service appointment, write out a list of every complaint you have. Without a prepared list, you may forget something. Put each complaint on the list. State each complaint short and simple. Avoid technical terms and jargon. Make it "plain English."
Make 2 copies of your list.
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. 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. Problem is, if you sign off on the repair order at the start of the job, then they can argue that you agreed that their description was the correction description. That can make it hard for you to later claim that you really said something else. If you give them your list, there is no misunderstanding of what your complaint really is about.
Make an advance appointment and ask for a free loaner.
Call and make your service appointment in advance. And ask for a free loaner. Generally, 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 real proof you were ever even there and no real proof that the shop did anything at all. Call and make an appointment before you go. And tell them that you want a free loaner. Some dealers will do it and some won't. If the dealer says they don't give loaners, then ask again anyway and tell them what the price of your car was and ask how much you have to spend on a new car in order to get a free loaner when you bring it back to fix a defect. 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 instead. Sometimes, it works.
Get there on time.
Arrive for your appointment on time and give them your complaint list. Give them that same list that you made in step #1 above. Even if the service writer says they don't need it, insist they take it anyway and "keep it in my file." That way you can prove exactly what you were complaining about on that date.
Don't take your car back until it's fixed.
Don't take your car back until they say it's fixed. They might say that they have to order a part and it's okay for you to drive it until the part comes in a couple of days later. Don't. Simply ask them, "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 most state lemon laws say 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 (usually for free), so they want you to get it out of their shop. When you take your car like that, 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. Don't take it. 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 laws are for.
Don't leave without your repair paperwork.
When it's fixed, 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. Some dealers make their paperwork look like your car was only there one day when it was there more than that. Make sure it's right. And also make sure that you understand what the repair paperwork says too. If they wrote down that they inspected the "obtuse joint" or some equally mysterious part that you have no idea about, make them write it on there in plain english again.
Leave the repair shop with your vehicle. Don't go back that day.
Leave. Don't go back that day. On your way home from the shop you may notice that some of your complaints don't seem to have been fixed at all. Do NOT turn around and go back. Go home. When you get there, call the dealership and make another appointment, for another day to take it back. Do NOT take it back that same day. Many state lemon laws only allow the dealer 3 or 4 chances to fix the same problem. If you return on the same day, then the dealer will count both trips as only one and may not write up another repair order at all.
Keep your repair papers at home - never in your vehicle.
Keep your repair documents in your house in one file. Never keep 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.
Know the definition of a lemon for your state's lemon law.
You can find your state definition on the web site link below. As sure as you know what your law requires, your dealer won't let your car become a lemon. Knowledge is power. As sure as you don't know what the definition of a lemon is, you'll end up stuck with one.
If you get a lemon, get a lemon law lawyer.
Go to www.UsLemonLawyers.com and find a lemon law lawyer near you. The lemon law lawyers on this web page don't pay to be listed there and most of them are members of the only national group of consumer protection lawyers.
Additional resources provided by the author
Remember Murphy's Law. As sure as you do these things, they'll get your car fixed right promptly. As sure as you don't do these things, you'll wish you did.
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