How An Automobile Manufacturer Can Sabotage Your California Lemon Law Claim Through Repair Orders

Under the California lemon law a manufacturer is required to repurchase or replace a vehicle if:

  • It has a defect or condition that was reported to the manufacturer or dealer
  • The defect or condition continues to exist even after a reasonable number of repairs
  • It is still under the manufacturer’s warranty

A vehicle is presumed to be subject to a reasonable number of repair attempts if:

  • The same nonconformity that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury has been subject to repair two or more times
  • The same nonconformity has been subject to repairs, four or more times
  • The vehicle has been out of service for a cumulative 30 calendar days
  • The repair attempts have been made within 18 months from delivery or 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first

Under the California lemon law, if a manufacturer fails to fix the same problem/s in a vehicle after a reasonable number of repair attempts, he must concede the choice of the consumer by either replacing the vehicle or by refunding it.

When Taking Your Car in for Warranty Service, keep an eye open for the Content of the Repair Order that goes into their computer. The Automobile manufacturer has a strategy to hoodwink you and the California lemon law presumptions by manipulating your complaint on a nonconformity.

Let us see how he does it:

The Automobile manufacturer can ruin the chances of your California lemon law claim by making changes in the language on the repair orders. If your vehicle has started showing transmission problems and you choose to bring it in immediately, say for hard shifting. The dealer’s service writer puts it down religiously on the repair order in his computer. This computer actually has a’flag system’ that works whenever you bring your vehicle in for warranty service for the same problem. On your second visit for the same hard shifting issue, your vehicle gets ‘flagged’ on this computer to alert the dealer’s technician and service writer about the potential lemon law claim in the offing.

The service writer learns that he is dealing with a dangerous vehicle that may any time after this visit drag the Automobile manufacturer to the court for a California lemon law claim. As a result, either on the same visit of yours or on the next he would choose not to record your complaint for hard shifting. He might choose to write something different. The dealer’s service writer might choose a ‘gas pedal sticking’ or ‘an engine over-rev’ for the problem on your second visit, the one after that and the one after that.

Sick with this recalcitrant problem you may choose to file your California lemon law claim after five or six repair attempts for ‘hard shifting’. When it is time to submit your service order copies which you have treasured for so long, you will discover that it has only one or two repair orders that mention ‘hard shifting’ and the rest are of some remote problems you never dreamt of. This whole episode can turn the tables in favor of your car manufacturer. The car manufacturer would argue that he never had enough repair attempts for the nonconformity, pulling a wet rag on your California lemon law claim.

How are you going to protect yourself against this kind of manipulation?

Ensure that YOUR description of the problem appears on the repair order by following the steps:

  • Write out your complaints before you go to the dealership. Type your own description of the problems on a computer
  • Copy and present it to the service writer
  • Insist on their attaching your written complaints to the repair order

This should entirely remove the opportunity for the service writer to write his own version of the repair order. Keep copies of all the repair orders you placed in the hands of the service writer.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as legal advice. Please direct your specific questions to K&M attorneys and know more about your lemon law rights. If you want to pursue your lemon law claim, call 1-800 US LEMON® (800-875-3666) toll free, to reach Krohn & Moss for your FREE initial consultation. Or submit your information online for your free case evaluation.

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