What can I do under lemon law to resolve the problem myself?
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UPDATED: Feb 20, 2013
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If you have a vehicle that falls under your local lemon law and you believe you’re entitled to compensation, it’s possible to handle the situation yourself. However, as with any legal problem, should your lemon law case escalate to anything beyond basic communication, even if you file a lawsuit and it doesn’t actually go to trial, you will be doing yourself a huge favor if you hire a lawyer.
Keep in mind that vehicle manufacturers deal with lemon law claims quite often. A large number of them are major class action lawsuits, so the odds of the manufacturer giving you a fair shake for an individual problem are low enough without you approaching them without even having legal representation. Find a good reputable local lawyer who deals in lemon law or consumer cases and who might be well-known to your local dealers, and you’ll have much better luck getting respectful and helpful responses.
Having said that, it’s possible to take a few steps yourself, prior to hiring a lawyer to help with your lemon law claim, to see if you might be able to resolve the problem yourself. Just remember to carefully document and save proof of every step you take (and every response you get) should you need them down the line–you most likely will need them if your lemon law case goes to trial.
The first step is to contact the warranty holder, either the manufacturer or your local authorized dealer, and let them know about the lemon vehicle. Include copies of mechanic reports of your lemon car proving the issue, if you have them. Make sure to look up your state lemon law beforehand, and ensure that your situation is eligible, then include that information in the letter, so the recipient knows you intend to pursue the lemon law claim if they do not respond.
Doing this accomplishes a few things. First, it gives the manufacturer an opportunity to fix the problem, which they just may do. Second, it gives proof for future use that you made a good faith effort to get the problem solved. Third, you might find that the car manufacturer requires you to communicate in this way before they will move forward negotiating on a lemon case, so you might just have to do this anyway. You may as well do it early on and possibly save yourself some time and hassle in the future. You may even get your problem solved without having to file a lemon law claim with the courts.