What Documents Are Required in a California Lemon Law Claim?

Aggressive Attorneys Filing Lemon Law Claims for California Consumers

Lemon Law Claim inspectorIn pursuing a claim under California’s lemon law, certain documentation is relevant to the evaluation of the claim. Not having paperwork that backs up your claim could damage the strength of your case, while having documentation that proves you own a lemon can help you get a vehicle refund or replacement. Repair orders and invoices, original sale documents, and the manufacturer’s warranty booklet should all be collected, put in chronological order and placed in a folder for easy reference. Review of these documents is the first step in determining whether a claim exists.

Doug D. Law and his legal team are committed to helping his clients get the compensation and justice they deserve after purchasing or leasing a lemon vehicle – including cars, trucks, RVs, motorhomes, trailers, motorcycles, or watercraft. We understand well the exact evidence and documentation required to prove your case and can quickly and efficiently collect this information before filing your claim. To learn more about your case, ask a legal questions, or schedule an appointment, please contact us today by filling out our quick online contact form or by calling (888) 534-2108.

Documentation Type 1: Drop-Off and Pick-Up Repair Orders

A repair order is printed out by the dealership when you drop the vehicle off for repair. We refer to these sheets as the “drop off” or “write up” copy of the repair order. The repair order will set forth the items you are presenting for repair and should state the date and mileage of the vehicle.

On these forms, the complaints should be listed as separate “line items” and the repair order is typically given to the customer to review for accuracy. It is not unusual, however, for repair orders to be missing certain complaints and sometimes this is a key fact. Legally, however, if you complained about an item, that item is subject to repair whether the service writer records the complaint on the repair order or not. When you drop off a vehicle for repair, it is helpful to make certain that all of your complaints about your vehicle’s defects are listed as line items on your drop-off repair order.

When you come to pick up your vehicle, you will be presented with a “repair invoice” or “pick up” copy of the repair order. The invoice is similar to the repair order in that it contains your complaints as listed on the repair order. The repair invoice, however, also contains a description of what the dealership did (or didn’t do) to address each complaint.

Again, it is not unusual for the dealership to have done little to diagnose the complaint and simply state “no problem found” (NPF) or “could not duplicate” (CND). These types of notations are a product of the warranty system created by the manufacturer to reduce the cost of warranty repairs and should not be taken as an indication that the problem does not exist. There are not many of us who bring our vehicle in for repair because nothing is wrong!

The repair invoices are important because they contain information important to your claim. While repetitive complaints are often at the heart of a case, repeated actual repairs or inability or refusal of the dealership to properly diagnose a problem speaks volumes. Often, the invoices will also note technical service bulletins applied to your vehicle and will help the analysis of lemon law claims.

It is not unusual for consumers to have lost some or all of the repair documentation regarding their vehicle. In these cases, it is a good idea to ask the dealership or dealerships for a copy of your service file. Even in cases where a dealerships refuses such a request, the dealerships will often be willing to provide a “Warranty Claim” printout summarizing the claims the dealership has submitted to the manufacturer for warranty reimbursement. Many of our cases begin with this warranty printout until we can procure actual copies of the repair orders and invoices.

Documentation Type 2: Sales Documents

Also important at the initial stage of a lemon law claim is the sale documentation you received at the time of sale. The Retail Installment Sale Contract is the standard form of a purchase contract and is usually a long, yellow sheet of paper. The sale contract contains key information regarding your claim including:

  • The date of sale
  • The price of the vehicle
  • Aftermarket items added into the financing of the vehicle
  • Trade-in information
  • Rebates

These items will all affect the amount of money you will receive in the case of a refund. If you have lost your sale or lease contract, a copy can be obtained from either the dealership or the finance company.

Documentation Type 3: Warranty Booklet

The manufacturer’s warranty booklet is important because it details the actual express written warranties covering your vehicle. Manufacturer’s warranties vary in terms of the time and extent of coverage and are often necessary to consult in order to determine whether a particular complaint is covered under warranty. The warranty booklet is usually contained in a pouch of booklets together with your owners manual.

It is important to know the details regarding your vehicle’s warranty coverage because defects not covered by your warranty also won’t be covered by California’s lemon law. For example, if your defect is related to an aftermarket auto part that has been installed into your vehicle (like an exhaust system or stereo), it is likely not covered by your warranty and therefore is not the responsibility of the vehicle’s manufacturer.

While all warranties are different, many vehicle express warranties will state that a defect may not be covered if it is due to normal, everyday wear and tear to the vehicle; that is, if an auto part naturally wears out. Many warranties also state that the manufacturer is not responsible for any defects caused by abuse of the vehicle or an accident. Finally, the majority of warranties list certain responsibilities of the buyer, including oil changes and regular maintenance at a dealership.

When my office retains a lemon law case, we ask to have the original repair and sale documentation sent to our office via overnight mail so there is no chance of losing the originals. While a potential case is usually analyzed from faxed or emailed copies, original documentation is important for legibility and two-sided wording.

Additional Documents for Lemon Law Cases

Although the above documents are the most important, you may also wish to collect other documents that could help with your case.

  • Your vehicle’s registration
  • Any notes you’ve taken from when you spoke to your vehicle’s dealership or manufacturer
  • Your car’s maintenance history (this may also be acquired from the dealership)
  • Any other expenses that you have tallied because of your lemon vehicle
  • Your vehicle’s accident history
  • Your lease agreement, if applicable
  • Written correspondence about your lemon
    • This includes emails and letters
  • Your timeline of repairs
    • Noting the number of days that your vehicle was in the shop is vital, along with periods when your vehicle was not safe or able to be used

It is always a wonderful idea to take notes about your vehicle’s repairs. For example, making a note of the service providers you spoke with and what they said can be extremely helpful. Recording instances when a dealership withheld information from you is also helpful.

Your California Lemon Law attorney will let you know if he needs further information or evidence to support your case.

Making Copies of Documents

It is never a bad idea to make copies of your lemon law documents – especially if you hand them over to your attorney or other parties. Many consumers find it helpful to keep their own folder of documents related to their case so that they are on hand and available if needed.

What If You Can’t Find Your Documents?

While we all like to think that we are extremely responsible when it comes to paperwork and documentation – it can be easy to misplace, lose, or toss any of the documents mentioned above. Specifically, many people who experience chronic defects and multiple repairs may not have a complete file of drop-off and pick-up repair documents.

If you can’t find any of the above documents, don’t worry too much – a lot of the information can be recovered in various other ways.

For repair orders, ask your dealership for your file. Even if they have lost or misplaced your repair information, or if they simply refuse to give you the documents, you can ask for a Warranty Claim printout. This lists the repairs the dealership sent to the manufacturer for reimbursements.

For lost sales documents, you may ask for copies either from the dealership or from your finance company.

For express warranty booklets, you may also ask either your dealership or finance company for warranty information.

Request a Free Lemon Law Case Review with California Lemon Law Attorney Doug Law

If you have been experiencing too many problems with your vehicle, motorcycle, trailer, or boat it is a good idea to contact our offices and learn whether the California lemon law can help you. Consultations are always free – as is our representation of you if we decide to take the case. We offer a “risk free” agreement to you where the manufacturer pays the attorney’s fees and costs separately from your damages. You may also contact us via the online Case Evaluation Form on this website. We look forward to answering your questions.

What Our Clients Say

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"Doug and Kristen were invaluable in getting GM to repurchase my Corvette due to the driveline defects in the car that Chevrolet could not fix after 9 visits. GM and the Chevy dealerships in La Mesa and Mission Valley were not helpful, giving me absurd excuses, runarounds and one time ultimately refusing to write the defects up after demonstrating them to one of their technicians. In short, I highly recommend them to handle any lemon law case you may have."

- Anonymous

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