Any time you have to return a new car to the dealership to diagnose and repair a problem, it is a major annoyance. After all, didn’t you buy a new car so that you would have reliable transportation and not have to make trips to the mechanic? The good news is that new cars are under warranty and, other than the inconvenience of being without your car, the repair shouldn’t cost you anything. But how do you know when this minor annoyance could turn into a major problem and what should you do to protect yourself? We give you advice on what to avoid here.
What Is an “Open Repair Order?”
It may sound harmless enough. You take your car in to the dealer for a problem and the mechanic diagnoses the issue and tells you he needs to order a part. You are told you can take the car home to wait for the part to come in and they will just leave the order “open” until the part comes in and the repair is completed. Another possible scenario is when the mechanic cannot figure out what is wrong with the car. He may tell you to keep driving it to see if the problem persists, and in the meantime, will keep the repair order open. Seems reasonable—but the reality is you want to avoid open repair orders if at all possible.
Why You Should Ask for Repair Orders to Be Closed Out
When you have cause to file a Lemon Law claim, your main sources of evidence are going to be repair orders and invoices. To be eligible for a Lemon Law claim, you must prove that the car had a persistent problem that could not be repaired in a reasonable number of attempts—usually three or four. The only proof you have that the repairs were attempted and were unsuccessful will be the invoices for repair. If a repair order is left open as multiple attempts are made, it will only count as one repair attempt and a Lemon Law claim will not be supported. In order to avoid this loophole, we recommend that you do the following:
Ask for a signed copy of the repair order each time you take your car in.
Each time you take your vehicle home, even if it has not been repaired, ask the dealer to close out the repair order ticket and give you a copy of the invoice.
Make sure the invoice specifies what was done to diagnose the problem, what parts are on order, the “in/out” dates, and “miles in/miles out” documentation.
Understand that you have a right to all documentation about vehicle repairs and that you should keep these orders and invoices for your records.