Car buyers are decent people… for the most part. Despite what the folks at the dealership say, they don’t take their cars in for endless imaginary repairs.
When something goes wrong with the car the average consumer takes it to the dealer’s repair facility expecting the technicians to figure out what is wrong and fix it. This is straight forward, honest; it doesn’t seem unreasonable.
It is important to remember that the car owner is not required to be a Master Automobile Technician; in fact the owner isn’t required to know anything technical about his or her car. If the driver describes the problem with his transmission as a grindy, growly noise from under the car, and that sometimes it feels like he has been rear ended when he shifts, that’s it! That’s enough. It is up to the Service Writer or Technician to translate the driver’s experience into a proper diagnosis and then repair.
Because of their innate decency, the average owner isn’t ready for the shenanigans, misdirection, and outright lying that occur at the dealership.
Knowledge, so the saying goes, is power. When you go to the dealership it’s not good to wonder, “Is it me? Is it something I’m doing wrong?”
Here are five things dealerships do that should be a warning that they aren’t on the up-and-up.
- Failure to give the customer proper paperwork when the vehicle is brought in for repair. (This is a serious matter because the number of repeating defects can determine whether the vehicle qualifies under the California lemon law or not.)
- Repeated attempts to get a defect repaired are met with, “no problem found or could not duplicate customer’s concern at this time.” This response is often accompanied by a sneering attitude that suggests that you are an idiot for having brought the car in for repair. Then when you bring it in the fourth time for the same problem and it has become so bad even other customers wonder what’s wrong, the dealership then attempts to repair it. It was bad from day one and you knew it. The dealer wants to minimize the situation.
- When the service writer takes down your problems the defect description is either altered or omitted. (It all serves the same process of preventing the owner from taking advantage of their Lemon Law rights.
- Dealer is intentionally rude; you may have heard this one: “Oh, you again.” The attitude is that you are just an amateur who doesn’t understand anything about cars and insists on wasting his valuable time.
- The dealer never returns your calls. There are plenty of people there but none of them can seem to find time to call you back. As Mr. Taylor writes in his book, Lemon Law: The Standard Reference Guide, the dealer will tell the customer, it isn’t his fault; he tried to call you many times. This is, of course complete nonsense.
The thing to remember is that at some point the dealer knows that they are not going to able to fix your car or truck and from that point all they want is for you to give up and go away. Go away may mean trade up for a new vehicle, go to another dealer or just sell the car, anything that does not mean fixing your car.
Persistence is the key.
Keep taking your car in to be repaired and insist they provide correct documentation. If they can’t fix your car after three or four attempts, then it’s time to seek recourse under the California Lemon Law or your appropriate state’s laws.