The supply chain difficulties of 2021-2022 have adversely affected the auto repair industry. Consumers, (including many of my own clients), have reported delays in the time it takes to repair their vehicles. In fact, some of my clients have waited months for repairs due to the dealership service department waiting on auto parts to repair the defects.
From a legal perspective, these delays factor into most Lemon Law language that requires vehicles to be repaired within a certain number of days. For example, Michigan's Lemon Law mandates that a vehicle is considered a “Lemon” if it's been out of service for 30 days in the first year from delivery.
There are multiple and complex reasons for the parts hold up. Industry issues such as spikes in the price of steel and other materials, along with workforce shortages are adding to the problem. And of course, spare parts produced abroad are getting held up in the global shipping fiasco that is overwhelming shipping ports in the U.S. You can blame the pandemic, in part. But at the very heart of it, these delays are self-inflicted. Auto manufacturers have been short-sighted and greedy in failing to plan for such a contingency. Other industries have survived and thrived by simply having a long-term stash of parts and a system in place that delivers during any downturn.
To make matters worse, now that vehicles are sitting at auto dealers across the country waiting for repairs, there is a scarcity of loaner vehicles. Loaners are less available simply because of demand, and because of the wider shortage of new and used vehicles across the board. This creates a nightmare for a new auto purchaser who takes the vehicle to the service department only to find out they have to be without a vehicle while repairs are performed. For some, this means they have to come out of pocket for a rental. And of course, rental vehicle fees have skyrocketed for some of the same reasons outlined above.
So how long must you wait? What can you do?
- Make Noise
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. You need to complain often and from different angles. Be professional about it, but be consistent. Whether it's phone calls, emails, texts, or all of the above, you should let them know how you feel. Let them know how this is affecting your life and your schedule. Consider contacting the Service Manager, General Manager or even your salesman. Write a letter, or even file a review of the dealership on social media.
- Request/Demand Reimbursement
If you are forced to rent a vehicle, send the bill to both the dealer AND the manufacturer, with a request for payment. Some auto dealers and auto makers are actually reimbursing consumers for rental fees.
- File a Complaint With Your AG
Every State has a process that allows consumers to complain about various consumer issues with the Attorney General's Office. Many States have easily accessed on-line forms that take only minutes to fill out. I urge you to do so. While this process may not resolve your issue, it will put some heat on the dealer and manufacturer and perhaps lead to a resolution.
- File a Lemon Lawsuit
If your vehicle is sitting in the service department waiting for parts, you should contact a lawyer about the Lemon Law. The Michigan Lemon Law limits the repair attempt to 30 days. A vehicle is considered a Lemon if:
“The new motor vehicle is out of service because of repairs for a total of 30 or more days or parts of days during the term of the manufacturer's express warranty, or within 1 year from the date of delivery to the original consumer, whichever is earlier.”
So, if your vehicle is in the shop, even if it's just waiting for parts, it will qualify as a Lemon if the total is 30 or more days. Many other States have identical Lemon Law language.
Many auto owners are waiting too long for repairs because parts are not available. Being proactive can often lead to a resolution that will get you back on the road. If you live in Michigan and your vehicle has been out of service more than 30 days, consider a Lemon Law claim and feel free to contact me at (248) 246-6353