Buying a vehicle typically doesn’t involve much interaction with the dealership beyond the initial visit, paperwork and handshaking. However, when that vehicle is one of the more than 100,000 lemons sold in the US each year, that vehicle becomes a sticking point between you and the dealer and/or manufacturer.
You’ll be having many more interactions to try to reach a resolution, particularly if your vehicle defect is so significant that you can’t drive the vehicle on a daily basis. We have five main points to keep in mind during that time frame of interaction:
- Make sure you are prepared with documentation when possible.
- Keep detailed notes of any contact with the dealership.
- Be straightforward with everything you discuss.
- Don’t settle.
- Remember everything is a business transaction. Distress and trauma factor in, but only when given a monetary equivalent.
Any court case or legal proceedings require extensive preparation. With a lemon law claim, it is important to show the defect is not only putting your life at risk when driving but also that is being addressed with no success.
Any documentation of repair visits, contact with the dealership, efforts to get the vehicle back to reliable running order should be kept together and given to your lemon law attorney. They can help see where anything is missing and get you on track to a successful presentation of the case to an examiner.
- Notes on Contact
It is far too easy to say you have communicated with a large organization and not have proof to back up that assertion. In order to have a chance at success with a lemon law case, it is necessary to have a date, time, and details of the conversation to back up any statement of contact.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law claim questions, click here.
Dealerships and manufacturers have a lot of staff, and they can all too easily lose track of communication with a client. Therefore, having the name of the individual you spoke to and the general scope of conversation is helpful to increase the likelihood your version will be believed.
Always keep a focus on the defect with the vehicle. Keep in mind that the time it spends sitting idle is a key factor in it being considered a lemon. Likewise, it requires four or more repair attempts and also notifying the manufacturer that the issue exists and allowing them a “reasonable amount of time to assist with repairs.” [Note: In Texas, this timeframe isn’t clearly defined.]
Discussion should always focus around resolution of the defect in the vehicle or in reimbursement if resolution isn’t possible.
- No Settling
The dealer or manufacturer will always default to a deal that will save them the most money. Don’t take their first offer – or the one they can is the “best they can do.” Always carefully consider your options – and in Texas the lemon lawis your best bet to get the best reimbursement for such a problem with your vehicle.
- Remember it’s All Business
While your vehicle being an issue is a struggle for you – and it can cause emotional struggles as well – it is simply a business transaction gone wrong for the dealer. With that in mind, staying on track professionally to discuss things from a business perspective can go a long way toward helping you successfully resolve the issue and get reimbursement.
While we are here, it’s probably worthwhile to dive into the tips for negotiating with the dealership while you’re there for the initial purchase.
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Consider the following 6 tips as your guide to a more effective purchasing process:
- Don’t focus on the payment
- Remember it’s business
- Know what you can negotiate
- Separate your trade-in
- Know your financial health before you go in
- Read the fine print
Most auto buyers go to the dealership with a specific monthly payment in mind. However, that payment can be met while the overall price and term of the loan can be adjusted so you are actually paying significantly more for the vehicle overall.
The payment should fit your budget but also needs to fit your overall expectations for the vehicle price. Therefore, don’t make the payment your focus and miss the importance of the big picture.
Avoid emotion on your side – no matter how excited you may be to be improving your transportation method. Also, don’t fall for overly-friendly staff or service people at the dealership. They are not there to make new friends, they are there to make the deal that brings in the most benefit for the dealership.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.
It is a good idea to focus on the business aspects of the deal and avoid getting caught up in any emotions that you may be feeling about the process.
Knowing what you can and can’t negotiate as you go into a dealership is key to your success in getting a deal that benefits you. What you can negotiate includes:
- Sticker price
- Trade-in value
- Gap insurance
Things you can’t negotiate:
- Transportation charge
Know the value of your trade-in. Also, keep in mind that incorporating that process into the purchase of a new vehicle gives the dealer the ability to make that process more complex and a shell game of sorts. They can then say they are giving you more money for your trade-in – but they also are raising the price of the new car significantly to balance out those funds.
Selling your vehicle on your own is a good way to get a good price and have that leverage when you go to the dealership. It can also be a good idea to try programs that have an instant cash offer instead of just working with the dealership you choose to purchase your new vehicle from.
Know your credit score and the amount you should be eligible to get from financiers before you go to a dealership. That way, they have far less power over you and can’t tell you that you aren’t eligible for better deals or higher loan amounts. You will know exactly where you stand in that regard.
It is always important to read through the final documents and question any areas that have different numbers or complex wording. If the document is not complete, then never sign it. It is smart to know what you’re getting into and be careful to avoid any additional commitments that require you to spend more than you agreed to spend on this deal.
With these various elements of the purchase process in mind, it is easier to avoid purchasing a lemon vehicle. It is also easier to find compensation and reimbursement in the event the vehicle you chose becomes a problem instead of an asset in your daily life.
Your efforts to be prepared will show the salesmen that they can’t scam you into taking on more than you expected to with the proposed deal. Then, you can walk away from the dealership satisfied and – if you happen to run into a conflict in the future – you are prepared to handle that as effectively as you handled the deal you were negotiating. Your new vehicle does not have to be a stress on your finances if it is negotiated correctly at the time of purchase.