How Do I Prepare For Arbitration?

Gather Information:
Contact the manufacturer and request any technical service bulletins that might relate to your vehicle problem. Contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh St. S.W. Washington, D.C. 20590 Auto Safety Hotline at (800) 424­9393 for any safety recall information. Find out if there have been similar problems reported that indicate a pattern of problems with your model vehicle.

You may also contact Autofax at (800) 777­4481 for information on problems inherent to your vehicle. Autofax sells two types of reports (currently $20 each): 1) summaries of recalls and manufacturer service bulletins; and 2) summaries of consumer complaints directed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.To help validate the problem, especially if it is intermittent, submit singed statements or affidavits from certified mechanics and individuals who have ridden in your vehicle and experienced the problem (for example, family or carpool members).

Organize paperwork:
Record and summarize warranty repairs in chronological order. Focus on recurring problem(s) that affect the sue, value or safety of the vehicle. Do not list service orders which reflect only scheduled maintenance work.Make copies of the purchase order and finance/lease agreement, all repair and service orders, correspondence between you and the dealer or manufacturer, and any other documents such as signed statements that might help support your case. Do not use a highlighter pen on repair orders because it will blacken highlighted information when repair orders are copied.

Apply for arbitration:
Fill out and file an arbitration application, clearly stating what the problem is and what result you seek from arbitration. You may find an application in the materials inside your glove box or obtain one by calling the appropriate arbitration program.

Practice your presentation:
If you have an oral hearing, organize and write down the main points of your argument, emphasizing those problems which substantially reduce the use, value or safety of the vehicle. Minor adjustments are necessary to most new vehicles and mentioning insignificant problems will divert attention from your main concerns. Rehearse your presentation.

Remember that arbitrators, in reaching a decision, generally consider only those problems which have not been repaired. If the manufacturer has repaired some problems so that the vehicle conforms to the terms of the warranty, the arbitrators generally will not grant an award to the buyer for such concerns. Accordingly, focus on those problems which the dealer or manufacturer has not satisfactorily repaired and state clearly what relief you seek from the arbitrators.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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