The Michigan Lemon law is very specific regarding requirements such as number of repair attempts, type of defects, and communication with the manufacturer. The following is a list of errors that I've seen over the years that prevent consumers from having a stronger case:
- Allowing excessive repair attempts
After the 3rd repair attempt, or if your vehicle has been in the service department 25 days within the first year from delivery, don't give the dealership another free shot at repairs. Rather, this is the time to send written notification to the manufacturer and allow them one final repair attempt. (See 4 below).
Allowing a 4th, 5th, or 6th repair attempt may reduce the value of your case or even prevent you from recovering. The law is clear: you must permit a final repair attempt, and then you may pursue damages under Michigan's Lemon Law.
- Not taking your vehicle in for service every time it acts up
This is the opposite of #1 above. Many of my clients have avoided getting service because they are too busy or it's just inconvenient. Other clients are dissuaded from getting service when the service department says the defect is "normal" or they cannot duplicate it. Don't let that stop you! If there's a different authorized dealership in your vicinity, take it there for a fresh look. If not, take it back and insist that you have a defect. (Show video, pics, etc.). Your goal is to get to 3 repair attempts and/or 25 days out of service. Delay weakens your case.
- Failing to detail your defects to the service department
The Michigan Lemon Law relies heavily on the vehicle repair history. The most important evidence in your case is the repair invoice that is provided after completion of repairs. The repair invoice is the map to your case. It includes date(s) of the repair attempt, the mileage, and most importantly the complaint, (what's wrong) and the solution, (what they did to fix it). If you forget about a defect, or if you fail to specify to the service department exactly what happened and what you experienced, you will lose crucial evidence. Service writers are not mind-readers and they're certainly not gifted authors. You must spend time and insist that all of your complaints and exactly what you experienced is written down.
And when you pick your vehicle up from the service department, take some time to review that repair invoice before you leave. Is it accurate? If one or more of your complaints was not listed, ask for them to add your complaints or keep the vehicle. If they refuse to do so, ask them to hand write and sign a note saying they refuse to change it. If one or more of your complaints is not confirmed, ("unable to duplicate" or similar language), clear it up with the service writer or the service manager. Demonstrate the problem. (Video or pics can assist you in showing the defect to service department personnel).
And of course, make sure you actually get a copy of the repair invoice before you leave. I've had many clients simply fail to provide or keep all repair invoices and it makes for a sloppy case.
And finally, be professional and courteous to all service department staff. They're busy and they absolutely will not enjoy your insistence on detail, but you must aim to be courteous while you are protecting your rights.
- Not sending the "final repair" letter
The Michigan Lemon Law requires you to notify the manufacturer, in writing, of the need for repair in order to allow them an opportunity to cure the defect(s). This is often called a "last chance" letter. You must send this letter by certified mail. It is important to note that your attorney is permitted to send this letter on your behalf, and the Alexander Law Firm is always ready to get this done promptly.
This final repair letter may be mailed any time after the 3rd repair attempt for the same defect or condition, or after the vehicle has been out of service for 25 days within the first year from delivery. Thereafter, the manufacturer is required to notify you "as soon as reasonably possible of a reasonably accessible repair facility" to effectuate repairs.
It is critical for your case to send this letter as soon as allowable. Your case may be negatively impacted or delayed if the "final repair" letter is not mailed.
- Failing to include the proper information in the "final repair" letter
There are several factual topics that need to be documented in your "final repair" letter. Not just any old letter will do. At the very least you should include:
- Your name, address, email address and contact number
- The year/make/model of the vehicle
- Purchase/Lease date
- The vehicle identification number
- A description of the defect(s), including how many prior repair attempts/days out of service
- A statement that this letter is notice of the need for repair of the defect or condition in order to allow the manufacturer an opportunity to cure the defect or condition.
If you plan on doing it yourself, these are the basics. However, again, your attorney can send this letter, and in my opinion, you should trust a professional to get this accomplished quickly and correctly.