Have you ever taken your car to the dealership for an oil change or other maintenance and casually mentioned to the service technician that you wanted them to check out other issues, too? If you are not ensuring that your complaint and the dealership’s diagnosis are reported on a repair order, then you could be killing your Lemon Law case in the future.
We talk to consumers all of the time who are preparing their cases for Lemon Law arbitration, or they are determining whether they are eligible for arbitration, who notice that the dealership did not provide repair orders at every repair visit. Some consumers even notice that the repair orders they did receive contain inaccurate information, such as an incorrect odometer reading or dates. Why is this important? The basis of any claim under the Georgia Lemon Law has 3 basic requirements:
- that the vehicle was purchased or leased new (or first registered as new in Georgia when bought/leased in another State);
- that the purchaser or lessee be a “consumer”; and
- that the defect be submitted for a certain number of repair attempts.
The repair orders form the basis of your proof that you submitted your vehicle for the required number of repair attempts. If you are not ensuring that you are receiving a correctly completed repair order at the conclusion of every repair visit, then you are hurting your chances of winning your Lemon Law case.
Who is required to give me a repair order?
The Georgia Lemon Law states that either the manufacturer, its authorized agent, or the new motor vehicle dealer must provide you with a fully itemized and legible statement or repair order each time your new motor vehicle is returned to you after being diagnosed or repaired. O.C.G.A. § 10-1-783(d).
When you submit your vehicle to the dealership with a complaint, or you merely request that they check out a small concern, then they are required to provide you with a repair order. You must be given a repair order even if:
- the dealership only performs a diagnostic test;
- the service technician merely test drives your car to try to duplicate your complaint;
- the dealership only performs a software update;
- the service technician makes a small adjustment to the vehicle or its components in an effort to fix your problem; or
- the dealership cannot duplicate your issue or complaint.
Unaffiliated, independent service centers, shadetree mechanics, or unauthorized repair facilities are not required by the Georgia Lemon Law to give you a repair order.
What information must be included in the repair order?
The repair order must include a general description of your complaint and:
- the results of any diagnostic test, inspection, or test drive;
- a description of any diagnosis or problem identified by the manufacturer, its authorized agent, or the new motor vehicle dealer; and
- an itemization of all work performed on the vehicle, including, but not limited to, parts and labor.
It must also include the date and the odometer reading when you submitted the vehicle for repair and the date and odometer reading when the vehicle was made available to you.
When am I entitled to a repair order?
You are entitled to a repair order each time your new vehicle is returned to you from being diagnosed or repaired.
Why is the repair order so important to my Lemon Law case?
Your repair orders form the basis of your Lemon Law case, because it confirms that you complied with the law by allowing the manufacturer a certain number of repair attempts. It also shows that you complained about the defects and that the manufacturer was either unable to repair them within the time required by the Georgia Lemon Law.
How can I get a repair order?
If you are entitled to a repair order and did not receive one, then you can write a letter to the dealership requesting that it provide you with a copy. You may want to send it via certified mail so that you can track it and confirm delivery. You should consider copying Georgia’s Consumer Protection Unit, because it is the agency that enforces all of the Lemon Law’s requirements on manufacturers and new motor vehicle dealers. You can use this sample letter that you can edit and send to the dealership to request a copy of your repair order.
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