A: Try to work it out with the dealer. Talk with the salesperson or the owner of the dealership. Many problems can be resolved at this level. However, if you believe you're entitled to service but the dealer disagrees, you can take other steps.
If your warranty is backed by a car manufacturer, contact the manufacturer's local representative. The local or zone representative can provide warranty service and repairs to satisfy customers. Also, some car makers will repair certain problems in specific models for free, even if a warranty doesn't cover the problem. Ask the manufacturer's zone representative or the service department of a franchised dealership whether there is such a policy for your car.
Contact your local Better Business Bureau, state Attorney General or the Department of Motor Vehicles. You also might consider using a dispute resolution organization to arbitrate your disagreement. Under the terms of many warranties, this may be a required first step before you can sue the dealer or manufacturer. Check your warranty to see if this is the case.
If you bought your car from a franchised dealer, you may be able to seek mediation through the Automotive Consumer Action Program ("AUTOCAP"). This is a dispute resolution program coordinated nationally by the National Automobile Dealers Association and sponsored through state and local dealer associations in many cities. Check with the dealer association in your area to see if they operate a mediation program.
If none of these steps is successful, small claims court is an option. Here, you can resolve disputes involving small amounts of money, often without an attorney. The clerk of your local small claims court can tell you how to file a suit and what the dollar limit is in your state.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act also may be helpful. Under this federal law, you can sue based on breach of express warranties, implied warranties or a service contract. If successful, you can recover reasonable attorneys' fees and other court costs. A lawyer can tell you if this law applies.