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So I'm in the middle of the lemon law process

16802 Views 39 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  hkhoosier
Like the title says I'm going the lemon law route with my 2012 Ford Focus Ti. I live in Georgia. I'd like to share my experience so far.

The process requires you have had a non-conformity repair attempted in the first 12k miles or 1 year of ownership. Then two more attempts at repair in the next two years or 24k miles. Then you have up to 1 year additional to file a claim. It's a bit different if the non-conformity is considered a safety issue. The DCT isn't considered a safety issue.

It's also important to note that I don't have to participate in the BBB autoline program as is it isn't certified by the state of Georgia.

So at 6k miles I went in for the shudder/DCT issues and got programming done. At 15k miles I went in again for the shudder/DCT issues and got updated programming. At 18.3k miles I went again and was told there was no updated flash. At 18.6k I went back and broke the RPM flare threshold on the PID test, 350. I got new clutches and seals for my trouble.

That period was within the first two years of ownership. Over this summer the wonky DCT behavior has returned. I'm within the third year of ownership and as such I started the lemon law process. Currently around 28k miles. I filled out a form and overnighted it to Ford.

The form is an official request for a final repair attempt. You must give Ford a chance to fix the issues.

Well today Ford had their scheduled final repair attempt. A Ford service engineer drove my car for 31 miles and said no issues. He also said both my PCM and TCM were on the latest software level. That is interesting as neither have been touched since 18.6k miles in October of last year. I also know, thanks to this forum, about TSB 14-0131 which comes with updated software in addition to the "F" clutch revision. He also neglected to have another PID test ran on my vehicle. Or if they did, they didn't put it in writing on my repair invoice. He was nice enough to explain how a dual dry clutch transmission shifts though.

Tomorrow I'm doing step 3 which is overnighting a re-purchase request, per Ga lemon law, as Ford neglected to fix my non-conformity, DCT continues to require programming and/ or repair, when given a final attempt.

Ford has 20 days to honor my request per Georgia lemon law. I'm sure I'll hear back soon.

I've learn so much from this forum. I just wanted to share my experience for anyone on the lemon law fence.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank for taking the time to respond. I spent a great deal of time reading about the Ga lemon law prior to starting the process. I'm fortunate to be covered by Georgia's lemon law. While it's not as consume friendly as California it's not as manufacture-friendly as said New York either.

To address your major point about the 2yr/24k expiration I'll just quote the Georgia Department of Consumer Protection's website found at the bottom here

IMPORTANT: Remember, there is a one-year time limit to file for arbitration, should you need it, from the date your Lemon Law rights period expires. While your repair attempts had to be made within the Lemon Law rights period of two years or 24,000 miles, whichever occurred first, you must complete Steps 2 and 3 and submit your completed State Arbitration Application within one year of the expiration of the Lemon Law rights period. Do not delay and lose your right to proceed.
I had four repair attempts made in the first 2yrs/24k lemon law period. The last repair attempt was the replacement of clutches. Car ran like new for another 7k miles. I'm within my rights to proceed with a lemon law claim now that the clutches are acting up as my one year time limit isn't up.

The other point you brought up was the formula for determining repurchase. Georgia's formula is straight forward.

If your vehicle is repurchased, a refund to you for a vehicle you bought would include:

The purchase price (the cash price of the vehicle indicated in the contract, including any reasonable allowance for a trade-in vehicle);

Collateral charges (including but not limited to sales tax and other government charges, dealer charges, dealer-installed items, extended warranty, and all interest you paid on any loan from a lending institution);

Incidental expenses associated with repairing the vehicle, such as towing, alternate transportation or repair charges;

Minus a deduction or offset for use based on a formula that includes the purchase price and the miles you put on the vehicle up until the time of the first repair visit for the defect or condition [(Purchase Price x Miles) ÷ 120,000].
I brought the car in for first attempt at repair around 7k miles. My deduction would be less than $2k. The current mileage on the car isn't pertinent to the formula. I would even get paid back the interest on the car note along with the cost of my extended warranty.

If Ford chooses not to re-purchase at this time, I can then file for a state led arbitration hearing where I get the fun task of proving the steps I took to repair the vehicle and that the issue persists. I've have documentation of 4 attempts to repair within the first 2 years and documentation for the final repair attempt for which they attempted no repairs. Didn't even do TSB 14-0131 but stated my TCM / PCM were on the latest release on the repair invoice. Which is simply not true. So honestly I'm not the least bit concerned with having to go to arbitration if needed. It's informal and well structured. Not a big deal at all. Ford would then have the ability to appeal to superior court and I would probably have to get a lawyer. The decision of the arbitration panel is admissible and I would retain the services of firm that gets paid only if they win, basically fee shifting.

At this point the process is spelled out nicely and very easy to follow. The cost has been 40 bucks to overnight a couple of forms to Dearborn. Ford can't ignore the process and has to follow along.

The most entertaining point so far was last night. I went to the Post Office to mail my re-purchase request to Dearborn and a gentleman stopped me to tell me how much he like my car. He then asked how it has been to own....
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ford contacted me today to decline repurchase of the vehicle. Pretty much to be expected.

I've already contacted Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Protection and requested the arbitration packet. I'll have that back to them this week. Then they will approve or deny my request for state-led arbitration. The approval is based on whether or not I've followed the lemon law process correctly. So approval shouldn't be an issue.

I'll keep updating the thread through the process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Received my arbitration packet yesterday and spent several hours getting it all in order. I sent the arbitration packet today to the State of Georgia. They'll get it tomorrow. Fingers crossed it gets approved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks dude. Hope it all works all for you.

I have to think long and hard about what to do if I lose in arbitration. First thing will probably be a 6th trip to the dealer for another attempt at fixing the transmission. I'm assuming new clutches at this point. Then maybe trade it and never look back.

Only car dealer that would ever say the car is acting normal is Ford though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Georgia contacted me to today to let me know that my arbitration packet has been approved and is moving forward. Also, I'll have subpoena and discovery power in relation to my case. So already thinking about how best to leverage those new tools.

The best part is that any new repairs will be admissible moving forward. So I can schedule service around TSB 14-0131 and document that my final repair attempt / invoice was factually incorrect!

This is going to be so much fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks. It's worth noting that the state of Georgia determining I'm eligible for lemon law arbitration doesn't mean I'll prevail at the hearing. 4 (really 5 now) repair attempts and 2 letters does not a lemon make.

Ford may approach and offer a settlement after they get the details on the case. There are some formalities around that procedure with the state if it does in fact comes up.

Outside of a settlement I've got a couple of documents to fill out and send back to the state. I also have to provide Ford with a copy of any additional repairs moving forward. There is a procedure in regards to that as well. I'll also figure how if there are any documents I want to see during discovery and anyone I want to subpoena for questioning.

Assuming no settlement, which I don't foresee, around 40 days from now I'll meet with an arbitrator and a Ford rep in some meeting room in Atlanta. I'll have the ability to make a statement and then start presenting evidence. My number 1 concern is proving my vehicle has a nonconformity and it hasn't been repaired.

My state law says a nonconformity means a defect, a serious safety defect, or a condition, any of which substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a new motor vehicle to the consumer or renders the new motor vehicle nonconforming to a warranty.

So when I start presenting I'll show advertising tagline of the PowerShift DCT and it's "seamless" shifts. Then go into details about my repair attempts, how I have to drive the car in a certain way in traffic, failure to go into gear on a couple of occasions, and a soon to be second set of clutches. Perhaps question a witness or present Ford advertisements. Basically I have to prove my vehicle doesn't conform to a reasonable set of expectations and is in fact a lemon to the arbitrator. Ford will have an opportunity to question me. Then Ford presents their case. Honestly, this is so exciting. I can't wait to hear Ford tell me that my car and it's soon to be 6th repair attempt at 28k is operating as designed. Especially if I do end up with Rev F clutches.

I then have the opportunity to question Ford. "So you're telling me Ford Motor Company fully admits that replacing clutches every 15k miles to be normal?" "No, then explain my situation." Or better... :Yes, so where is that in the service schedule?" "Define the expected experience of shifting of gears as it relates to the PowerShift DCT?" "Define seamless." "Do you think that your definition of the DCT is equal to Ford's printed advertisement of an seamless experience?" I've got weeks to generate questions like these.

Next is closing statements on both sides. Lastly the arbitrator may request a test drive with my vehicle. Then we're done.

The arbitrator will mail me their decision within 5 days.

I've got 40 days to plan my case and present. It shall be glorious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You've been helping a lot for any current owner or potential lemon process candidate. I've had 2 service repairs, reprogram and clutch repair. Even though it's working bit better than before, there's still shudder exists especially on heavy traffic when I have to stop / start often. I'm on the border line, I'll wait till next summer to see if issue reappears again and follow what you're doing if it's necessary. Your case and progress here will help a lot.

My only worry would be that Ford would offer repurchase and then condition something like "never post this experience to web" or "delete what you've written" something like that [:(]
If the thread suddenly gets removed take from that what you will. [:)]

Initially I was intimidated by the lemon law process. Only because of my ignorance though. The more I read and learned, the less the fear and uncertainty I felt towards beginning that process. I delayed the process after my clutches were replaced at 18k in hopes that Ford had fixed the issue. It became clear during the summer they hadn't. The shuddering and surges between gears shifts starting happen all over again.

I wish I had started sooner as the car would have been resolved by now one way or another.

You'll also want to start learning about WA's lemon law if you're even considering that avenue.

Moving forward I'll be much more aggressive with issues with a new car than I was with this one. I gave Ford the benefit of the doubt. That won't happen ever again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
My state law says a nonconformity means a defect, a serious safety defect, or a condition, any of which substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a new motor vehicle to the consumer or renders the new motor vehicle nonconforming to a warranty.

...

Ford's advertising doesn't even apply.
That's simply not correct sir. Notice the end of your definition of nonconformity, "nonconforming to a warranty." A warranty can be expressed by advertisement. That's just as valid as an implied warranty.

Ford choosing to advertise the Powershift DCT as being seamless is an expressed warranty. Therefore a Focus with a DCT that is exhibiting shifting issues that could be defined as not seamless by a reasonable person has a nonconformity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
OP would be much better off getting a written trade-in quote from a dealer (maybe even non-Ford?) that says how the shifting characteristics it is exhibiting negatively affects the trade-in value - but that would probably seem fishy to the dealer? [scratch]
Actually that is another thing I'm doing. It's fairly easy to show a material effect in value between a vehicle with no mechanical issues and one with mechanical issues on an online vehicle pricing site.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Not my definition, YOUR quote from the Georgia Lemon Law.


You're welcome to approach this any way you please, IMHO you'd be better served directing your arguments more closely to the Georgia law's requirements you quoted.

Arguing that hyperbole from advertising is an "expressed warranty" gets into an argument that's unlikely to be upheld at the hearing level you are dealing with.

If that is going to be the crux of your case, I think you're wasting your time.


Hopefully you will make a better argument by the time this comes to a hearing, I'm only trying to prod you into a more productive path for your case.
It's just a minor point of my argument. Regardless the expressed warranty issue concerning seamless shifts is 100% valid. I'm looking directly at Georgia state law in every regards to my case. Georgia's Lemon Law defines warranty in Section 10-1-782.

(27) "Warranty" means any manufacturer's express warranty or any affirmation of fact or promise made by the manufacturer in connection with the sale of a new motor vehicle to a consumer concerning the vehicle's materials, workmanship, operation, or performance which becomes part of the basis of the bargain. The term shall not include any extended coverage purchased by the consumer as a separate item or any statements made by the dealer in connection with the sale of a motor vehicle to a consumer which relate to the nature of the material or workmanship and affirm or promise that such material or workmanship is free of defects or will meet a specified level of performance.
Here is Ford's promise of seamless transmission performance in their sales brochure for the 2012 Focus. So since the statement of question is in writing and part of official Ford advertisements. It's going to be brought forth as evidence that my car does not meet Ford's advertised warranty and that my car does contain a nonconformity (after 5 repair attempts no less) under Georgia's lemon law. This isn't my only evidence obviously but evidence nonetheless.

http://www.ford.com/services/assets/Brochure?make=Ford&model=Focus&year=2012&postalCode=55401 It's on page 11.

I appreciate the feedback and dialogue, I really do. Ford will be sending a dispute resolution specialist, so I've got to be on point. Arguing over these forums is very helpful to me.

Also, I received my Notice of Arbitration today. Date is set for December 2nd. I'm currently reading through the rules of the arbitration hearing and getting my discovery request in order.

Lastly, Ford has 20 days to reply to the state and myself with a written statement. The statement should contain their defense or else the arbitrator can refuse to consider any defense or issue not raised by Ford in a timely manner prior to the hearing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
So I finally received the manufacturer's response with their position today.

Let's just say I'm really looking forward to December 2nd and being able to present my case.

Also called my dealership today and scheduled service for most recent TSB DCT programming and PID test. The service writer told me Ford is backordered on clutches and he's already has several cars on the ground waiting for clutches.... :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
The arbitration was conducted today. I'll get the findings in a few days.

The format was as advertised. Both parties have an intro statement, I present my case. Get asked questions by Ford. Ford presents their case and I got to asked questions. We conducted a test drive and had final statements.

As far as if I'll prevail or not. Honestly, I doubt it. Everything I present was factual and in line with justifying relief under Georgia state law. I demonstrated a valid case. It really boils down to whether or not the issues with the car are still present in the mind of the arbitrator. The car operates fine in this sub-70 weather and did so in during the test drive. I indicated that the car would do so and that my complaints were made exclusively in the July August and September. Not December. I was able to get Ford to acknowledge new seals and clutches were available but not inside my car. So who knows. At this point one part of me is simply happy I'm arriving at this point. The other part wants to second guess.

I'll update whenever I hear the final decision.
 
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