The Arbitration Certification Program (ACP) serves as state regulators for California. It has the mandate to ensure that all state-certified vehicles remain in general compliance with the regulations and statutes governing the vehicle-related arbitration process involving the performance and quality of vehicles.

The ACP protects new car owners and those that qualify for the Lemon Law protections. Owners have a right to a fair and expeditious process to resolve Lemon Law issues. It does not conduct procedures, hold hearings or overturn hearings.

So what does it do?

The ACP reviews all third-party arbitration programs and ensures that they remain in compliance. They do this by:

  • Random audits of state-certified hearings held in the state and ensuring that the arbitrators are sufficiently isolated from the manufacturers and follow all rules regarding hearings.
  • Random audits of certified manufacturers’ dealerships to ensure that there are proper disclosures to consumers regarding warranty materials and the service centers when there is a dispute.
  • Random audits of California’s state-certified arbitration programs case files when they are ruled ineligible or settled before the hearing to make sure that the program properly closed and opened claims.
  • Investigate complaints against the program, administrators and manufacturer corporate headquarters to ensure compliance.
  • Coordinate with the Department of Motor Vehicles to make sure that previously owned vehicles’ titles are correct.

Starting the process

Vehicle owners often start by contacting manufacturers about an issue they have with the vehicle. Ideally, the manufacturer offers to diagnose and resolves the matter free of charge and may even reimburse some expenses or inconvenience. The ACP does not directly oversee the process but does review matters to make sure that manufacturers are acting in good faith, honoring the terms of the warranty and making a fair settlement. More of a watchdog than a facilitator, they are there to help ensure that the system works. Those who feel the manufacturer is not honoring the warranty may think they can handle the arbitration themselves, but generally, an attorney can be beneficial if there is a dispute.