Step 1: Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts
If you believe your vehicle has a defect, you must establish that the first repair attempt occurred within the Lemon Law rights period, regardless of the length of the manufacturer’s warranty. The Lemon Law rights period is the period ending one year from the date the vehicle was originally delivered to you, or after the first 12,000 miles of operation following original delivery of the vehicle to you—whichever occurs first.
Once you have made a first attempt to repair the defect within the Lemon Law rights period, you must make any remaining repair attempts within the next 24 months or 24,000 miles (whichever comes first) from the date of that first repair attempt.
What is a repair attempt?
A repair attempt is the replacement or adjustment of a part or component to correct a defect or condition covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Only a repair performed by the manufacturer or its authorized dealer or agent can count as a repair attempt under the Lemon Law. If the dealership inspects or test-drives the vehicle without making any repairs, and you later prove that repair work should have been done, this visit would also count as a repair attempt. To document repair attempts, you will need to get a copy of the repair order for each repair visit.
How many repair attempts must you make? The following table explains:
Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts
Serious (life-threatening) safety defect in the braking/steering system
At least one repair attempt is required within the Lemon Law rights period of 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever occurred first.
Other serious (life-threatening) safety defect
At least two repair attempts are required for the SAME serious safety defect—one within the Lemon Law rights period of 12 months or 12,000 miles (whichever occurred first), and the second within the next 24 months or 24,000 miles (whichever occurs first) from the date of the first repair attempt.
Other defect or condition (which substantially impairs the vehicle's use, value or safety)
At least three repair attempts are required for the SAME defect or condition—one within the Lemon Law rights period of 12 months or 12,000 miles (whichever occurred first), and the second and third within the next 24 months or 24,000 miles (whichever occurs first) from the date of the first repair attempt.
Example: For a water leak, which is not generally considered to be a serious safety defect, the law requires at least three repair attempts before you may proceed to Step 2. Suppose the new motor vehicle was purchased on April 1, 2005, and the first repair attempt date was January 1, 2006. The mileage on the date of the first repair attempt was 5,000 miles. The remaining two repair attempts must have been made by January 1, 2008, or by 29,000 miles (whichever occurs first) for the owner to proceed to Step 2.
The Lemon Law also has a “days out of service” provision to cover situations where a vehicle has one or more defects requiring extended periods of time for repair. Each defect must have been first submitted for repair during the Lemon Law rights period. Then a reasonable number of attempts can be established if your vehicle has been out of service by reason of repair at an authorized repair facility for a cumulative total of 30 calendar days.
These 30 days may accumulate during one repair visit or several visits. Of the 30 days, at least 15 must occur within the Lemon Law rights period, with the rest falling within the next 24 months or 24,000 miles (whichever occurs first) from the initial repair attempt.
You can usually calculate the days out of service for each visit from the day you submitted your vehicle for repair through the day the work was completed. Weekends and holidays count toward the number of days if your vehicle is in for repair during that time. To document the number of days out of service, you will need to get a copy of the repair order for each repair visit.
Should you have any questions regarding this or any of the other “reasonable number of attempts” provisions, please call us at 404-651-9397.
Why are repair order receipts important to protecting my Lemon Law rights?
Repair orders are a critical piece of evidence for proving your claim. Obtaining complete records each time you bring your vehicle in for repair will help you document the entire repair history for all reported problems. At a Lemon Law arbitration or court proceeding, the burden of proof will be on you to show that your vehicle is a “lemon.”
Is the dealer required to give me a repair order each time I bring my vehicle in for warranty repairs?
Yes. You are entitled by law to a copy of all warranty work done on your vehicle, even when no repairs are performed but the vehicle is inspected or test-driven. Section 10-1-783(e) of the Warranty Rights Act states:
Each time the consumer's vehicle is returned from being diagnosed or repaired under the lemon law rights period or under a warranty, the new motor vehicle dealer shall provide to the consumer a fully itemized, legible statement or repair order indicating any diagnosis made, and all work performed on the vehicle, including but not limited to a general description of the problem reported by the consumer or an identification of the defect or condition, parts and labor, the date and the odometer reading when the vehicle was submitted for repair, and the date when the vehicle was made available to the consumer.
What should I do when I bring in the vehicle? At the time you bring your vehicle in for repair, you should:
- Give the service writer a clear description of all the warranty problems you are experiencing.
- If you have an intermittent problem (one that comes and goes), be as detailed as possible in describing the nature and frequency of the problem and the situation when it occurs.
- Make sure the service writer takes down all of the information you provided.
- OR, leave a written summary of this information for the service writer (particularly if you plan to drop the vehicle off during non-business hours).
When I pick up my vehicle, what should I look for on the repair order? At the time the dealer gives you a copy of the repair order, examine it to make sure it includes:
- The date and mileage when you took the vehicle in for repair.
- The results of any inspection or test-drive for the problem you reported.
- A description of any and all work performed and parts replaced.
- The work completion date.
What should I do if the dealer will not give me a copy of the repair order?
- Ask to see the service manager or general manager.
- Be polite, but insist on receiving a copy of the repair order before you leave the dealership.
- If you are still unable to obtain the repair order, send a written request for a copy to the manufacturer as soon as possible. In your letter include:
- The year, make and model of your vehicle;
- The vehicle identification number;
- The date and mileage at the time of your repair visit;
- The warranty problems you reported;
- The name and location of the dealership; and
- The names or titles of the dealership personnel with whom you spoke concerning that repair visit.
- Send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the manufacturer’s address found in your owner’s manual.
- Send a copy of the letter to the dealership, to the attention of its president or CEO.
- Be sure to keep a copy of your letter for your records.
If neither the manufacturer nor the dealer will give you a copy of your repair order, call our office at 404-651-9397 for further instructions.
What to Do Next
If the defect or condition is corrected during this stage, you have achieved the goal of the Lemon Law, and the process ends here.
If you have satisfied the “reasonable number of repair attempts” required for the defect but it still has not been fixed, you may proceed to Step 2.
Otherwise, you should continue to take the vehicle for repair until you have satisfied the required number of repair attempts.