Please note that what I present is based on what I state, official records of State of Florida Office of the Attorney General Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, and provided records by the Toyota corporation as provided to me and the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board. I cannot state that Toyota would handle anybody else's situation of having a claimed faulty new vehicle the same as mine. The arbitration board records are public as well as the records provided to them by Toyota and myself for the purposes of my situation. My situation happened in Florida in 2016 and was finalized in 2017 - anything I present here may possibly not be relevant to any case outside this time period or legal jurisdiction of Floria.
Yes, after going through the Florida Lemon Law Program in March 2017, Toyota bought back my wrecked 2016 Toyota Tacoma with less than 12,000 miles. I never even had to repair the truck before it was bought back. Why did they have to buy it back damaged? Because the truck damage was determined to have been caused by the failure of the truck - particularly sudden unintended acceleration.
Why would I prepare this website? I want to be sure that another source of information is available to those who may wonder how to approach a dealer or manufacturer in case they are not properly addressing the concerns you are having with your vehicle.
You may ask, Was it difficult to do and did it take a lot of effort? Did you use a lawyer? What records did you need? Do state lemon laws work? I'll be answering these and more.
Was it difficult to do? Not especially. It did take a lot of planning to be sure that I covered all the bases and without providing an easy exit for the manufacturer from my case without addressing my needs. You do need to take very good notes on all aspects of how your vehicle is not working correctly, any comments from friends and family who have noticed the same, comments from the dealer, and any paperwork from the dealer and any other facility that may have worked on your vehicle or provided an assessment.
Is it necessary to have a lawyer? This is really a legal question which I am not able to answer. In my own case, I felt solid about what happened to my Tacoma, and I believed that I would be the best one to present facts about what did and did not happen, along with all the other observations that I myself experienced during the two failed instances of my vehicle.
You need to keep a trail of all the receipts that relate to your vehicle's situation. First of all, it provides a record of what you have attempted to do to have your vehicle looked at. Next, it provides a vital trail of what may be required for your state's lemon law arbitration program to work from in helping to determine if your case is eligible for the program. If your dealer does not provide a repair order since they say that there is nothing wrong with your vehicle, please document the entire visit by who you talked to on what day and what was discussed. I did not have any dealer invoice until I was asked to pick up my vehicle from the dealer over three and a half months after first leaving the vehicle with them. A technique I used was to document every conversation and letter with the dealership, the manufacturer, and with a host of other parties - this kept others up to date as far my progress, it showed the dealer/manufacturer that I did not consider the communication to be just a friendly memo from them on my vehicle's status, it provided an easy way for me to track what everyone said on a certain date at a certain time, and it provided a wealth of records for the use of the lemon board when they considered my case. In other words, my lack of records from the dealership did not work against me when the arbitration board meeting took place.
With the Florida Lemon Law Program you do not need a lawyer, although you can definitely use one. I believe it would be very, very easy not to have all aspects of your case in perfect form. It can be rather surprising what a manufacturer's legal team can throw at you in the form of possibilities and non-possibilities, not that any part of it necessarily needs to be supported, or even true. But you have to be ready. For my own sake
For as Toyota presented to me at the Lemon Law Arbitration Board hearing, when the manufacturer hears that there has been a wreck or collision, the dealer is told to stop all work on the vehicle and the vehicle is then turned over by the dealer to the manufacturer who turns it over to the legal department. This is what I effectively experienced when the dealer turned the case over to Toyota within days of my submitting my Tacoma to the dealership.
If you have a wreck of any sort with your vehicle and if you receive notification from the dealer that they cannot work any more on your vehicle, a question to ask is whether they will provide you a loaner vehicle while yours is being investigated by their service department. If they say 'no', then there is the good chance that you may have already been thrown to the manufacturer's legal department. If you decide to use your automotive insurance to cover the wrecked vehicle while it is in the shop and particularly if you are waiting for someone to check the crash recorder, then you may find that your insurance company may not want to provide you a vehicle for some extended period of time while the manufacturer may be leading you along. In other words, you may find yourself funding your own temporary replacement vehicle or you may have to do without.
Luckily I was not injured in either situation. If there were injuries in another identical case, I have no idea as to how it all would be worked out but I believe there would be a lot of pushback as far responsibilities, liabilities, etc.
Is there anything that I wish I would have done differently? Yes. I wish that I would have asked for a copy ahead of time of the final papers to be signed when the truck was bought back. At a time like then, a third pair of fresh eyes would have been most beneficial. No, we did not negotiate ahead of time with them as far as not seeking any further court action - if this happened, there would have been a sizable amount of kept emails where the situation would have been discussed, although the final statement that we would not pursue any further action could still have been agreed up - just the manner in which the statements were broached at the last moment.
Time constraints/statutes of limitations. It is very important for you to be aware of any time limitations that you may need to follow. First of all, you need to be aware of what your stated maximum time period and maximum allowed mileage are. In addition, if you go through your state's lemon law program, which has its own constraints, you may also have to first go through a third-party arbitration program, which also has its own constraints. It pays to be very observant of these timelines and allowed maximum mileages; otherwise your claim may be disallowed. These steps are critical.
Manufacturer sponsored arbitration boards before going to state lemon law boards. We had to submit to the Toyota sponsored Toyota Dispute Settlement Program before the state lemon law program could consider our case. However, within a few days of submitting the paperwork, we received notification from the National Center for Dispute Settlement (NCDS): "Your application for arbitration states that the situation, which gave rise to your complaint, included your vehicle being involved in an accident. The arbitration program has jurisdiction over service issues covered under Toyota's New Vehicle Limited Warranties. Therefore, your claim is not eligible for the arbitration program." Although I did not expect this particular reply when I first submitted, the reply itself was not surprising. I believed that this again goes tandem that once an accident where it is claimed that warranty is responsible for a Toyota vehicle, that the system goes into lockdown. But yes, I still had to submit to them since this was part of the official process.
As of August 27, 2017, as found through a web search for VIN 5TFAZ5CN6GX004196, it was now found for sale. The webpage for the truck indicated: "PREVIOUS MANUFACTURER BUYBACK / Engine Surge ( REPAIRED )". This same listing provided the Carfax report link which shows "Vehicle serviced" at the local dealership on May 5, 2017.
But, per the written decision of State of Florida Office of the Attorney General Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board, "The vehicle has the following defect or condition that substantially impairs its use, value or safety: a driveability issue evidenced by stalling, shuttering, and unintended acceleration that caused a collision on one occasion." Yes, unintended acceleration was the determination and not the 'misapplication' of the accelerator pedal as held on to by Toyota.
Yes, the entry of "Engine Surge ( REPAIRED )" says alot!!! You can sometimes be surprised if the further history of a vehicle can be tracked.
The truck was out of service for a total of 115 cumulative out-of-service days, and this was while the truck sat on the dealership lot without any repair of the vehicle being attempted. I believe this would fall under the direction of Toyota to the dealership.
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