One of the first things we request when meeting with a potential lemon law client is documentation showing the vehicle’s problems and the steps taken to fix them. In the automotive world, these documents are called repair orders or repair invoices and they are essentially the medical records for your vehicle.

A new repair order is generated each time service technicians work on a vehicle. If you’ve had to bring your new vehicle in for multiple warranty repairs, it’s time to start paying attention to these documents. First, gather all the old repair orders you’ve stuffed in the glove compartment and ask the service manager for copies of the orders you’re missing. As for future repair orders, pay attention to detail.

Here are the five most important facts you should make sure are accurately reflected in your repair orders:

The Problem: It’s important your repair order accurately reflect the reason you brought your car to the service center. We’ve encountered too many situations in lemon law cases where this information was missing, thus turning the complaint into a “he said, she said” scenario. If you brought your truck in for transmission problems, the repair order should say, “Customer states vehicle shifts harshly between gears” or something along those lines.

Repair Dates: Each repair order should accurately reflect when the vehicle was brought in and when it was returned to the owner. The amount of time your vehicle has been out for repair is an important consideration in a lemon law claim, so insist those dates are reflected in the order.

The Repairs: The steps taken to repair a defect are also important in a lemon law claim. Did technicians simply change a sensor or did they have to replace an entire powertrain control module? The level of repair can be an indication of the problem’s severity, so it’s important to ask what exactly was done on your vehicle and insist that information is reflected in the order.

Complaint Verification: We’ve heard stories about service technicians agreeing with clients there are problems with a vehicle, yet this information is not found in the repair order. If a technician verifies your complaint, it’s helpful to have that reflected in the order, as it adds credibility to the argument your new car is a lemon. Equally important, if a repair order states the complaint was not verified, ensure that is accurate and request the language be changed if it is not.

The Mileage: Repair orders should also show the mileage when the vehicle was tendered for repair and the mileage when the work was completed. Accurately documenting the mileage is important because it can show how much the vehicle was driven before the problems began. Also, showing how far the vehicle was driven by technicians is important in a repurchase scenario because a manufacturer is only entitled to a credit for mileage you put on the vehicle, not service technicians.

Ensuring these five facts are correctly reflected in your repair order is an important step towards bringing your lemon law claim to a timely and successful conclusion.