Lemon Law - initial steps to take and to avoid

Here are some things to think about if you experience warranty issues with your new vehicle:

Don't panic if your new car has been to the dealership too many times, there are likely helpful options.

Always think about the purpose of the steps you take Many people have a natural instinct to want to call the manufacturer and voice their concerns, but that action may work against you. You want to take time to think about who is controlling the situation. You are likely contacting an office that your manufacturer established. That means the car maker is setting the rules of the game. The manufacturer makes you feel like you are taking the proper steps since you are following a process that it created in its warranty booklet, online or elsewhere. You may have better alternatives.

Similarly, if you ask your dealership where to turn for help, they often direct their customers to call a hotline that the manufacturer established. The dealers may intend to help, but that call might not be the best first step.

At this point, you really want to slow down and consider your long term objectives. I, like so many of my clients, have experienced warranty problems. It just is not fun to take time away from your family or from work to address problems with your car.

How do you go about moving forward with a car that has warranty issues?

The knee jerk reaction is to want to vent, but that will generally not do so much other than to make you feel better. You may be better served venting to your family pet, or even the walls of your house. Then, once you've taken a breath, start thinking about what will help achieve action and results.

Save your documentation

Starting the day that you purchase or lease your new car, create a folder for everything related to your car, purchase documents, oil changes, etc. Depending on your desire to reduce clutter, you can certainly scan these documents into your computer, but be sure you can retrieve them. You will be very happy that you have all of the documents, so start saving everything early.

Review your documentation

When you go to the dealership for a repair, take a look at the repair order they provide to you. They have to provide you with a repair order which should include the applicable dates, a repair order number, the mileage, your concern and their observations/repairs. In many cases, the number of days that a vehicle spends at the dealership can turn out to be very important, so you want to be sure that the date in and the date out are properly reflected on the repair invoice. You also want to be sure that your concerns are properly documented. It is a lot easier to verify right after the repair as opposed to trying to remember the information several months later.

Some dealers are very good about providing its customers with the repair documentation, but other dealers are not as helpful. Often, clients tell me that the dealer offered to mail the document, if that is your situation, be sure to set a reminder and be sure to follow up with the service department at your dealership. It is a lot easier to maintain those documents from the beginning.

What action you take depends on your specific situation and on where you are in the process.

Each customer is at a different step in the process. For those who just bought a car, you learned to start that folder. For those that are starting to accumulate repairs, then you know what you need and what steps to avoid. For those who have had a lot of problems (in Michigan or Ohio), it is likely time to call me even if you just want to work through your options.

If your vehicle has been to the new car dealership for multiple repair attempts or for repair attempts that have lasted many days, I can often help before you even think about what direction you want to go.


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