Read the Manual, Please!
Norman Taylor & Associates
September 10, 2010
A recent study by Schrader, a company that creates tire pressure monitoring systems, showed that one in three people did not recognize the tire pressure warning light. Owning a vehicle also requires that consumers make themselves aware of how to operate the vehicle and recognize these warning indicators; information that is included in the Owner’s Manual.
At Norman Taylor and Associates we speak to many consumers who seek information regarding California Lemon Law and whether or not the law may apply to them. Part of the review process requires a first hand account from the consumer which describes the problems he or she is having with the vehicle; this includes information on which warning lights were triggered at the time the defect occurred. Sometimes warning lights are triggered that provide more information as to which systems require attention. Sometimes warning lights will not be activated at all; this does not necessarily mean that a defect is not present.
What can happen if a consumer does not read the Owner’s Manual? The dealer and the manufacturer may take advantage of the consumer’s lack of knowledge to deny various kinds of service and repairs. What the consumer does not know may potentially harm their ability to seek recourse under the California Lemon Law.
The manual has explicit instructions on types of maintenance and schedules. If a consumer decides to ignore maintenance and later experiences engine defects, for example, the dealer can and will say; “This is a non-warrantable repair because the lack of maintenance caused the oil to sludge which destroyed the engine.” It will be very difficult for the consumer to make a good case against their assertions. Good records of regularly scheduled maintenance will stop that foolishness quickly. Part of ownership is being aware of how to operate the vehicle, how to care for the vehicle, and what to do if anything should go wrong.
What should have been written on the front of the Owner’s Manual is, “Ignore the contents of this manual at your peril.” Knowing what’s in your Owner’s Manual is no guarantee that you will make a successful California Lemon Law case but it will prevent you from sabotaging yourself in pursuing a possible case.