State-Certified Arbitration Information

Steps to take if you think you have a lemon.

1. Consult your warranty booklet.

2. Attempt to resolve the problem with the dealer.

3. Contact the manufacturer directly. In some cases, you may be required to directly notify the manufacturer of the need for further repairs. Send letters by certified mail, keeping a copy and the certified mail receipt.

4. You may pursue arbitration if you think you meet all of the following requirements:

  • The specific problem is covered by the original manufacturer's warranty (bumper to bumper, powertrain, or emissions) or within six month of expiration. This does not include extended warranties.
  • You have notified the manufacturer directly about the problem, if required.
  • The problem substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of your vehicle.
  • The problem has not been satisfactorily repaired.
  • The manufacturer has a state-cetified arbitration program. (refer to the list below)

Benefits of Arbitration

Arbitration is a dispute resolution process by which warranty disputes between manufacturers and consumers are resolved by neutral arbitrators. Some of the advantages of arbitration are:

  • It is free.
  • No need to hire an attorney.
  • Decisions are typically rendered within 40 days of the arbitration program's receipt of your application.
  • State-certified arbitration programs:
    • are regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs Arbitration Certification Program,
    • Arbitrator's decisions are binding on the manufacturer once the consumer accepts,
    • consumers are allow to dispute "All" manufacuturer written warranty repairs,
    • remedies are not limited by the manufacturer on a case by case basis,
    • allow oral presentations (which are open to observers) and written presentations

What to Expect During the Arbitration Process

  • After contacting your manufacturer’s certified arbitration program and filing an application, the manufacturer may or may not attempt to settle the case with you.  It is your choice to attempt to settle or proceed to arbitration.
  • The program will request documents from you such as repair orders, sales contract, vehicle registration, etc.  This evidence is provided to the manufacturer and arbitrator so it is important that the information you provide be organized and pertinent to your case.  You should also receive documents from the manufacturer. 
  • A hearing will then be scheduled at a location near you.  You can present your case in person, by telephone or in writing. 
  • During the hearing, both parties are asked to present their case as to why they feel the vehicle is or is not a lemon.  It is important to explain why you feel the issues substantiate the impaired use, value or safety of the vehicle.  You will also be given the opportunity to rebut any testimony provided by the manufacturer.   The arbitrator will ask questions to both parties.  A test drive and/or inspection of the vehicle may also be performed by the arbitrator if it is deemed necessary to assist in making a decision.  During this time, you can demonstrate the issues that are occurring.
  • The whole process typically takes 40 days to complete.  Once a decision is rendered, you can either accept or reject the decision.  Remember, the decision is binding to the manufacturer if you decide to accept it.  If you choose to reject it, you may pursue other legal remedies or consult with an attorney.

Applying for arbitration.

Find your make of vehicle in the list below, and then contact the related state-certified arbitration program. They will walk you through the process:

Better Business Bureau Auto Line (BBB Auto Line) - (800) 955-5100

  • Aston Martin
  • Bentley
  • BMW (Includes Mini Cooper)
  • Ferrari
  • Ford (Includes Lincoln, Mercury, & RV Chassis)
  • General Motors (Includes Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Geo, GMC, H2, Pontiac, Saab, and Saturn)
  • Hyundai
  • Jaguar/Land Rover
  • Kia
  • Lamborghini
  • Lotus Cars
  • Maserati
  • Mazda
  • Nissan/Infiniti
  • Volkswagen/Audi

California Dispute Settlement Program (CDSP)

  • Tesla - (866) 629-3204
  • Toyota (Scion) - (888) 300-6237

Consumer Arbitration Program - Motor Vehicles (CAP-Motors) - (800) 279-5343

  • Porsche

What if there's no state certified arbitration program for my type of vehicle?

Then you are free to pursue your Lemon Law rights in court or you may also wish to try mediation through the New Motor Vehicle Board.They may be reached via phone at (916) 445-1888. To contact an attorney you may check your local yellow pages at the beginning of the "attorneys" listing for lawyer referral services, call the State BAR Association at (415) 538-2000 to obtain the certified lawyer referral service nearest you, or the internet.