Consumer Mediation Services
The Consumer Mediation Services Program of the New Motor Vehicle Board (Board) offers an informal, no-cost, dispute resolution program for consumers. The Program is designed to provide amicable mediation to consumers who are involved in disputes or have a complaint against a new vehicle dealership, manufacturer, or distributor licensed to do business in California.
The Program acts as a neutral mediator between the disputing parties to promote a mutually acceptable resolution. THE PROGRAM, HOWEVER, CANNOT ORDER A DEALERSHIP, MANUFACTURER, OR DISTRIBUTOR TO PROVIDE THE CONSUMER WITH THE RESOLUTION THAT HE OR SHE IS SEEKING.
Types of Complaints within our Jurisdiction:
- Contractual disputes (purchase or lease)
- Warranty/repair disputes
- For recreational vehicles, consumer complaints that apply to the chassis, chassis cab and drive train are initially referred to the Department of Consumer Affairs (Veh. Code § 3078).
- Used vehicles sold by a new/used dealer's lot
- Used vehicles with remaining original warranties
Types of Complaints not within our Jurisdiction
- Private party sales or transactions
- Used cars purchased from a solely used car dealership (with no remaining original warranty)
- Vehicles sold "AS-IS"
- Odometer fraud
- Lemon Law
For a list of agencies and/or organizations that may be able to assist you with these types of complaints, please see "Other Available Resources" on our homepage.
The Board does not possess authority to enforce the Tanner Consumer Protection Act, ("Lemon Law") Civil Code section 1793.22, although it is enforceable through the civil court system.
The Lemon Law states in part that it is presumed that a reasonable number of repair attempts have been made to a vehicle if, within 18 months from delivery to the buyer or 18,000 miles on the odometer of the vehicle, whichever occurs first, one or more of the following occurs:
- The same nonconformity results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven and two or more repair attempts have been made on the nonconformity (a defect or malfunction which substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle) by the manufacturer or its agents, and the buyer or lessee has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for repair of the nonconformity, or
- Four or more repair attempts have been made on the same nonconformity by the manufacturer or its agents and the buyer has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for repair of the nonconformity, or
- The vehicle has been out of service for a cumulative total of more than 30 calendar days.
The 30-day limit may be extended for repairs which cannot be performed due to conditions beyond the control of the manufacturer or its dealers. In addition, the buyer is required to directly notify the manufacturer that the vehicle does not conform to the applicable express warranties after a reasonable number of repair attempts.
If the consumer's vehicle meets these requirements, the consumer then gains the rebuttable presumption that the vehicle is defective. The manufacturer can dispute the presumption in court. If the presumption cannot be rebutted, the buyer may be entitled to a replacement of the vehicle or reimbursement of the purchase price, less the amount directly attributable to use by the buyer.
What are the Benefits of Mediation?
- Resolve disputes without the cost of litigation.
- Retain a customer / Restore faith with dealership or Manufacturer
- Help parties identify issues, clarify goals, and understand the rights of involved parties.
- Promote healthy communication and cooperation in order to achieve a greater understanding of the dispute.
- Allow disputing parties to control the process of dispute resolution.
- Assist people to end problems, not relationships.
Tips for Successful Mediation:
Clarify your goals
What outcome can you reasonably expect in order to resolve the dispute?
Prioritize your interests
Where are you more able to compromise?
Focus on the future, not on what happened in the past.
Express Yourself to be Understood
Honestly explain your viewpoint.
Avoid blaming, accusations, and judging the other person or party.
Listen to Understand
Consider the other person's viewpoint.
How to Request Mediation:
To request mediation, consumers must fill out and submit a Mediation Request Form along with any pertinent documents, photographs, or any additional information the consumer may want considered.
Any attachments may be e-mailed to email@example.com or mailed to the Board's mailing address at P.O. Box 188680, Sacramento, CA 95818-8680.
PLEASE NOTE: The consumer should retain a copy of the Mediation Request Form for their records and be able to produce a copy upon request
For questions please call (916) 445-1888 and ask to speak with a mediator, or visit the FAQs.
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