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The Worst Repair Order Violations

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  June 23, 2011

Over the years at Norman Taylor & Associates, we have handled thousands of California Lemon Law cases. Some are so devious and underhanded we read them in amazement. They are shown around the office followed by comments like, “Do you believe this? Do these people really not understand Bureau of Automotive Repair requirements for a properly documented repair order?”

Here’s what we saw. The vehicle is a 2010 Honda Civic. The owner took the vehicle to the dealership for extensive repairs. The following is the first repair order entry as written; we presume it was written by the service writer:

C/S the alignment is off. Also the brake pedal pulsates. The left rear shock is leaking. Vehicle will not start at times. Window rattles when half open. Test drove vehicle. Unable to duplicate problem at this time.

Do you see it? My first thought was, are these people serious? Don’t they know the difference between singular and plural? They are supposed to have read the B.A.R.’s (Bureau of Automotive Repair) Write it Right: A Guide for Automotive Repair Dealers which contains instructions on how to properly fill out a repair order. If you count the defects described in this travesty, you should get five; that’s five separate defects! It ain’t rocket science folks. Here’s what we get:

  1. The alignment is off
  2. The brake pedal pulsates
  3. The left rear shock is leaking
  4. Vehicle will not start at times
  5. The window rattles when half open

Do you count this as five separate defects? Anyone with good basic reading skills will see these as five separate defects. Note the last line in this particular defect report? Unable to duplicate the defect at this time. Which one? Are we crazy over here or did the folks at Honda simply assert, suggest or state outright that these five defects are really just once monster defect, and that they couldn’t duplicate them all at once? By the way, if you can find some connection between all five of these defects, you have skills we’ve never encountered.

Oh! You think this is over…sorry, it is not. Following the great catchall defect, which they said they could not duplicate, they then attempt to repair three of the five in the list, and ignore the other two.

Here are the next three entries in the repair order:

  1. C/S the driver’s side window rattling half way when cruising. Binding and Sticking: Front door power window regulator, left replaceConfirmrattle coming from the inside driver door. RR driver door panel found broken part at window regulator. Apply lube, silicone grease where appropriate. [We have italicized words which demonstrate that they duplicated the defect and took steps to repair it.]
  2. C/S the brake pedal pulsates when braking. Unable to duplicate the problem.
  3. C/S rear shocks leaking. Cause: premature wear and tear. Damper/shock absorber assembly, left rear replaced. Shock absorber alone on 06, includes alignment. [We have italicized words which demonstrate that they duplicated the defect and took steps to repair it.]

It would appear, for reasons one can barely guess, that the repair facility saw no reason to make repair attempts on problems they don’t want to bother with such as defect number one and defect number four above. What about the alignment problem? What about the no start condition? These are hardly insignificant, unless of course someone wanted them to seem insignificant.

Norman Taylor’s book, Lemon Law, The Standard Reference Guide describes this cunning technique in detail. We call it, “Slicing and Dicing the Defect”, although when the book was written such an astonishing example was not considered. Check out Chapter Seven, The Gauntlet.

Food for thought: Are the folks over there incompetent or was the repair order written this way with the intent to deceive? Hopefully it is neither one, but it wouldn’t surprise us if it was either one of the above or both.

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