Often times, my Dallas based lemon law office cannot accept certain potential lemon car cases due to insufficient documentation. What I mean by this is that a consumer might have a very strong lemon law claim, but the potency of their claim has been watered down because of several new techniques that car service centers are using to avoid liability under the Texas Lemon Law.
When a consumer brings a car in for a concern or complaint of a car defect such as “engine noises while driving,” the service center is required to document the repair attempt by issuing a repair order for the consumer’s visit. Under the Texas Lemon Law, the best way to prove up that you have met one of the 3 prong rebuttable presumption to win your case is through repair invoices.
The first trick that car dealerships use to avoid liability is to conveniently forget to print out repair invoices for the consumer. If you’ve left a car dealership without a repair order in your hand when you pick up your car, then you’ve done yourself an injustice. If the dealership says that it does not issue out repair invoices for this type of repair, …or the repair is too small to constitute additional paperwork,…or “we couldn’t find anything wrong”…then you must ask yourself, why are they abandoning normal protocol of issuing out repair invoices to document their time at work?…especially since authorized repair work that has been done under warranty is usually charged or reimbursed to the manufacturer at pre-determined rates and arrangements.
The second trick car dealerships employ is to minimize your concern. They would say things like “we can’t find anything wrong with the car”,… or “the reason why your engine is overheating is because of a faulty sensor”,… or “that’s how the car is supposed to sound.” If that’s the case, then politely request that they document their finding on the repair invoice and drive your car to another manufacturer-authorized service center and get a second opinionn. We shop for second opinions in selecting medical doctors all the time and there is nothing in the law that forbids us from getting a second opinion on findings of car mechanics.
The third trick that service centers use to escape any wrongdoing is to provide false documentation. Service managers (handlers) are very concerned with customer feedback surveys that gets submitted to car manufacturers. Their job is to tell you nice things so that you will be comfortable with providing them with positive feedback. What they put on your repair order is a different story. I have heard stories from clients where the service manager will tell them that the engine is faulty and needs replacement, but will only document it as a problem that only requires something as minimal as a bolt replacement. Or, the service manager would tell the consumer that they have fixed the problem, but will put on the repair invoice that the consumer did something wrong that caused the defect to occur (such as using low grade gas or parking their car at a hill or incline). If this happens to you, then make sure you insist on getting the service manager to correct any inaccuracies on the repair invoice immediately. If they refuse to do so, then write a letter to the owner of the car dealership and the car manufacturer memorializing what happened.
The key is to get correct and accurate documentation for everything. In the event that you have to take the car dealership or manufacturer to court, at least you’ll have accurate documentation to prove your case.