Consumer Protection
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How to Protect Yourself: Chronic and Persistent Car Trouble
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office


Dealing with chronic and persistent automobile repairs can be frustrating. Consumers who have experienced chronic problems with their automobiles may be experiencing a substantial product defect or condition and might be entitled to reimbursement or another remedy. Your car repair could be covered by a company product recall, a warranty or possibly a safety recall from the National Highway Safety Administration.

Search for possible safety recalls or manufacturer’s defects
There are at least three ways to determine if your vehicle has been subject to any safety recalls or manufacturer defective product recalls. The first is to contact the manufacturer and request the company’s Product Service Publication index. Once you receive the index, check for your particular problem. If it is listed, request a copy of that technical bulletin from the manufacturer.

The second way is to call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 1-800-424-9393. You will need to provide your name and address along with your vehicle’s make, model and Vehicle Identification Number. This free service will send you a list of all the safety recalls on your vehicle.

The third way is to write to the Center for Auto Safety, CAS Packets, 2001 S. Street NW, Suite 410, Washington, D.C. 20009. You will need to provide the year, make and model of your vehicle, type of problem you are experiencing, along with a business-sized self-addressed stamped envelope. If your vehicle has been reported to the Center, the Center will, in turn, provide you with materials listing defects reported along with information on how to proceed with your complaint.

Determine if your vehicle is affected
If you receive information on any manufacturer’s defects, review your repair bills to determine if a possible defect could be responsible for your problems. If so, you might be eligible for compensation. If you discover that your vehicle has been subject to any safety recalls, check with your dealer to ensure your vehicle has had all necessary recalls handled. Most safety recalls are performed at no charge to the owner.

Work to resolve the problem
If you believe your problem is the result of a defect, write to your car manufacturer’s Director of Consumer Relations. You can obtain the address from your owner’s manual or in the Consumer's Resource Handbook available by request from: Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colorado 81009. You also can follow the advice in the handbook on how to write a letter of complaint.

If you have a new automobile and are having a problem, it may be covered by Florida’s Lemon Law. For information on the Lemon Law program, call the Lemon Law Hotline at 1-800-321-5366 or visit the Attorney General’s Lemon Law Division online at http://www.myfloridalegal.com.