WHERE’S MY REPAIR ORDER? ATTEMPTING TO AVOID CALIFORNIA LEMON LAW LIABILITY
The beauty of proving up a California Lemon Law case is the repairs are documented by repair orders and repair invoices. The repair order is the document that is provided to the consumer when the vehicle is delivered for repair. The repair order should contain the date the vehicle was dropped off, the mileage on the vehicle, a description of the complaint, the estimated cost of repair, etc. The repair invoice is what is provided to the consumer when the vehicle is picked up after repairs are completed. The invoice should contain the date the repairs were completed, the parts that were replaced, whether the parts are new or remanufactured, the cost of the repairs, etc.
Recently, some automobile dealer/repair facilities have been refusing to write up repair orders, and in some instances repair invoices, for consumer concerning warranty repairs. These dealers will check in the vehicle, but will not provide the consumer with the repair order. At the time of pick up, these dealers will not provide the consumer with the invoice. These actions are clear violations of California Business and Professions Code sections 9884.8 and 9884.9.
But why would dealers engage in this clearly illegal activity? The reason is dealers and manufacturers know the life blood of a California Lemon Law case is the vehicle’s documented repair history. If no document exists for a repair, or if the document does not contain the consumer’s complaint with the vehicle, the dealer and manufacturer may challenge whether the repair took place, whether the consumer actually complained of a certain problem with the vehicle and/or whether any repair was performed upon the vehicle. In order to prove a California Lemon Law case, the consumer must prove the vehicle was not made to conform to the warranty within a reasonable number of repair attempts. Therefore, each warranty repair visit is extremely important in proving the “reasonable number of repair attempt” element.
So what should you look out for when taking your vehicle in for warranty repairs? One trick dealers do is tell customers that warranty repairs do not require repair orders and invoices. All vehicle repairs, whether warranty or not, require a repair order and invoice.
Another trick is dealers will keep repair invoices “open” while parts are ordered even though the vehicle is returned to the consumer. In this instance, a repair invoice must be given to the consumer when the vehicle is returned to him or her after the parts are ordered. And a new repair order and invoice must be written up when the parts are in and the vehicle is returned for the part installation.
One common trick is when the dealer does not write up a repair order or invoice when the vehicle is looked at for a short time, maybe in the service drive, and then is quickly returned to the consumer. A repair order and invoice must be provided to the consumer regardless of the amount of time the dealer has the vehicle.
Just remember, when presenting a vehicle for repair, warranty or not, always get a repair order and invoice. If the dealer doesn’t provide you with these documents, ask for them. These documents, or the lack of them, could make or break a California Lemon Law case.