Keep a Vehicle Repair Log

Why should you keep a repair log? Keeping a vehicle repair log is a great way to show how your car, truck, motorcycle, or recreation vehicle has been maintained. If you include receipts, work orders, and invoices you can easily prove to someone what work has been done and when. Such a record of maintenance and repairs can add value to your vehicle and make it a lot easier to sell.

Proof of Repairs and Maintenance

If your car turns out to be a lemon you’ll be asked to provide proof of repair attempts and the number of days its been out of service. The repair log, if maintained correctly, will have records of the dates, mileage, and the issue needing correcting each time the vehicle was taken to the dealership. If the dealer failed to fix the problem, the repair log will indicate it clearly and strengthen your case. If you end up in arbitration or have to sue the dealer, a well-kept repair log can prove to the court how well you took care of your car. A repair log allows a judge, arbitrator, or manufacturer to quickly review your case.

Think of how long it might take to pour over notes, invoices, receipts, work orders and other records presented in a big unsorted pile. Depending on the number of records, it could take days to wade through!

The Repair Log is a Summary of your Vehicle’s Repairs and Maintenance. Besides protecting you in Lemon Law arbitration, it allows you to quickly see the last time your vehicle had an oil change, brake job, or any other regularly scheduled maintenance procedure.

Download a Repair Log Template

Car Lemon Vehicle Repair Log – PDF (Click to view, right click to save).

Repair Log – PDF. Print out or save a copy of the file and enter data electronically.

Repair Log Instructions

  • Vehicle – This identifies the vehicle this log applies to. Example: Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Ford F150 etc.
  • Date – Purchase date of the vehicle
  • Mileage – Enter the mileage of the vehicle when you took possession of it.

Repair Attempt Records

  • Date and Mileage when you the vehicle went in for repairs.
  • Date and Mileage when the vehicle was picked up. Note, the Date should reflect when the repairs were completed. It could be different than the date you picked the vehicle up! The Mileage should reflect the mileage read directly off the odometer.
  • Dealer or Repair Shop where you took your vehicle for repairs. For Warranty Repairs, you are required to take your vehicle to an Authorized Repair facility.
  • Repair Order Number. You’ll find this printed on the repair order or work order. Don’t drive off without this vital piece of information!
  • Service Requested / Description of Problems. You can write in as much or as little here as you want. “Tires Rotated” or “Oil Changed” is fine for routine maintenance, but describe major issues in detail. If you’re taking your car in to have a repeat problem addressed, make sure your description is IDENTICAL each time it’s taken in to be repaired. The reason for this is so you’re protected under the lemon law. Your description of the vehicle’s problem must be on the repair order / work order. Don’t sign repair orders or leave your car at the dealership unless the problem is entered into the repair order / work order.
  • Work Performed. When you arrive at the dealership to pick your car up, they should hand you an invoice detailing all work and repairs performed. Copy this down in your repair log. If the dealership won’t give you an invoice for any reason, make a note of it.
  • Charge. Enter any out-of-pocket expenses here. Examples include: towing, gas, hotel, food, or repair fees if you’re asked to pay. Attach copies of all invoices and receipts to the repair log. Create a number for the repair log entry and write it on the invoices and receipts to aid future referencing.

Work Requested / Work Performed

Remember to describe repeat problems exactly the same each time you take your vehicle in for servicing. Don’t forget to have your description added to the repair order / work order. In order to be protected under lemon laws, you’re required to describe unrepaired defects exactly the same every time your car is taken in for servicing. Repairs covered by warranty are required to be made at authorized repair facilities.

When picking your car up at the dealership or authorized repair facility, make sure they give you an invoice for indicating the work performed. The dealership may say there’s no invoice because there’s no charge for the repairs. You have every right to a record of the work performed on your car and you shouldn’t leave the dealership until they produce an invoice for you with the information you asked for on it.

Was your car’s problem fixed or was it unresolved – meaning the dealership service center couldn’t duplicate or find the cause of it? What did they fix (or fail to fix)? Base this on the original reason you took your car in for repairs.

Lemon Law Protection

To be protected under the lemon law, it’s vital you write down whether or not the dealership or service center was able to correct your vehicle’s problem. The invoice might show the problem was fixed to your satisfaction but after you drive away the problem could return. If so, and you return to the service center, it’s considered a second repair attempt for the same defect. When you take the vehicle in to have it repaired (again), create a new repair log entry.

More Lemon Law Resources

Lemon Law Tips

Lemon Laws – State by State Lemon Law Statutes and Resources

Federal Lemon Law

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