Ford Paint Small Claims Victory
You wanted some thoughts on the trial. First off, the term small claims court gives a sense that it is not to complicated or difficult. I thought I was right and had enough info from you and your books to win no problem. What I found out was that it was a lot of work that basically follows a regular court with a little less formality. It was difficult setting apart what was actual accepted evidence( and getting appropriate acceptable copies) and what would be considered heresay.
When we went to mediation in August 2004 and I told the judge about the info in your book, I was told I would have to have you at the trial to be questioned on the info. (I'll bet you're a nice guy-- but not that nice). So that burst my first bubble and I realized I was not ready for court. Getting hold of Maureen Franks (Franks vs. GM) was a big help, she sent me copies of some of her info and I was able to build on that.
Ford was a pain in the ass from beginning to end. Their one and only response was the warranty and extended warranty had expired.
Their lawyer (he was actually not a bad guy) kept on that when I lost they would sue me for costs. That was a little unsettling and I had to think on that. The whole idea, I think, from their side, was to intimidate me so that I wouldn't follow through.
The mediation judge, at the end of our session even turned to the Ford lawyer and said," why don't you go out and try to come up with something". Ford said ‘no way, this is going to court and we'll sue for costs. I had my doubts at this point.
A couple of things that made the difference for me were:
1) I had been taking pictures of the delamination for about a year and
they clearly showed the deterioration on the horizontal surfaces only
and the chalky white discoloration, as described in Ford TSB 93-8-4.
2) I had requested a copy of 93-8-4 from a dealer and they faxed me back
that it was against Ford policy to release these documents to the
public, and I was able to submit the fax as evidence.
3) I did get a copy of 93-8-4 from another service manager who new about
the problems I'd had in the past with Ford.
4) I did get copies of other positive judgements on this issue (judge
seemed to like Shields judgment).
5) I had a very credible witness who did a good job when questioned.
The first thing I did when court started was to ask the judge if I could say something. I said your honor I'm an air traffic controller and I know that process very well. This process I don't know at all. If there is any help or guidance you can give me so I don't embarrass you the court, or myself, I would greatly appreciate it. He smiled and said no problem I can do that.
Off to a good start! He was very helpful and patient. I also agreed up front that both warranties had expired but the problem was latent and built into the car when originally manufactured. Using the pictures, the admitted defect in 93-8-4 by Ford, the fact that they hide this info from the public and even mislead customers when asked about the problem and using the knowledge of my witness, I was able to prove it was latent at the point of manufacture and became patent later, due possibly to environmental factors.
Interestingly, halfway into the trial we took a break and I was out in the hall with the Ford lawyer and the judge came by. He quietly said, come up with something. I looked at the lawyer and said I guess your hands are tied you can't negotiate. He said No, I can do anything I want. I said well do you think we can come up with a deal. He said no way you haven't heard my evidence and the only deal is we walk away and I won't sue for costs. I said sorry, I’ve come too far for that. I even said money is not the issue for you. The only downside for you if you lose is that I will try to make it public that Ford has a judgment against them for paint delamination. He said these cases don't mean anything. It is the superior court cases that matter.
The only evidence he had was Gorski vs. GM and a very lengthy court case that dealt with condominiums. (the judge said do you really want to use this case?: Ford’s answer:no).
It is sad to say that my perception of the legal system is that it doesn't care about the truth or what is right and wrong. It is all about winning and losing. With a very high emphasis on winning at all costs.
I got dinged for not getting the car painted sooner to stop the spreading of the damage so I'm thinking the judge didn't fully understand the problem of delamination, but I guess all that matters for me is: I won!
B. D., Toronto
GM Engine Small Claims Victory
Just to recap, our lawsuit was based on the contention that a GM dealership failed to change the oil and oil filter when they replaced the upper intake manifold and gasket and lower intake gasket on my 1996 Bonneville. The old oil was contaminated with antifreeze (or coolant) during the repairs, and ultimately caused the destruction of my vehicle’s engine.
We spent many, many hours gathering evidence and preparing our case. When I attended mediation in May 2005, the dealership’s lawyer was intimidating as he implied that there would be considerable expense to me if I lost. In fact, Small Claims Court awards very modest compensation to cover the defense’s expenses if the plaintiff is unsuccessful. Once we obtained that information, we decided to proceed.
We consulted a lawyer specializing in civil litigation in July 2005 to obtain basic information about what is required and how to proceed, and to seek an opinion regarding the strength of our case. We were advised to be prepared and well organized. Our lawyer suggested that we compile a binder with tabs and an index to organize our evidence, and provide copies of the binder to the presiding Judge and defense’s lawyer.
The 2-day trial was scheduled for January 11th and 24th, 2006. The defendant’s ‘team’ consisted of the following five people: the dealership’s mechanic, service advisor, service manager, fixed operation’s manager and their solicitor. Our side consisted of ourselves, my mechanic, a technical service advisor from the CAA, and via an affidavit, an independent mechanic.
The first day of trial involved our side presenting our evidence and version of the events. We took the old oil filter (not a GM brand), a jar containing a sample of the contaminated oil, a cassette tape recording of a message left by the dealership’s service advisor on my home answering machine, and an oil analysis report prepared by Toromont Cat Fluids Analysis Lab as evidence. These items were all admitted as evidence by the presiding Judge.
My mechanic was a great witness. He was relaxed, straightforward, honest, confident, and credible.
On the second day of trial the defense had the opportunity to present their version of events. Being unrepresented and acting as my own ‘lawyer’, I was able to bring certain issues out in my cross-examination of the dealership’s employees. Then, the Judge probed deeper into certain matters by asking questions himself, until he obtained complete or satisfactory responses. One of the issues concerned the whereabouts of charges for fresh engine oil and a new oil filter on the service invoice. The dealership was ultimately unable to locate these items on their invoice.
Towards the end of the second day of trial, the Judge asked both sides for oral summations. This includes providing a summary of the evidence and events, the identification of relevant law(s), and identifying case law that supports one’s position. The dealership’s lawyer then requested an adjournment until May 2006. However, the Judge declined and instructed both sides to provide ‘written summations’ to him within 7 days, addressing ‘costs, damages and betterment’, and to return to Court on February 14th, 2006 to hear his judgment.
I visited the Osgoode Hall Law Library to research case law. I found a few cases that seemed relevant to my case and included them in my written summation.
On Valentine’s Day the Judge gave his reasons for judgment and his award with respect to costs and damages. I am very happy to report that the Judge agreed with our version of events and we were victorious!!
The process of initiating and proceeding with a lawsuit in Small Claim’s Court involves a steep learning curve. Acting as one’s own representative against an experienced lawyer was extremely stressful and unnerving. However, we were thrilled when the Judge awarded in our favour. It was a sweet victory borne of hours of preparation.
In conclusion, I would strongly recommend that anyone contemplating undertaking a somewhat complex Small Claims Court action, do the research first and consult a civil litigation lawyer initially, in order to understand the process, assess your chances, and gain insight into your role and responsibilities as the plaintiff.
Jonathan & Jane, Toronto, Ontario
Mazda Misleading Advertising?
I have purchased your books over the last couple of years while car shopping and
your advice. I committed to the deal on the 7th of April and on the 11th noticed the ad in the Toronto Star (the attached is identical but downloaded from the Mazda website.) A call to Mazda Canada confirmed that the offers [in general] should be in effect for my sale as the ad states that the offers are in effect from 3 April.
A subsequent call to Mazda regarding the specifics of the 0% financing for "24/36/48/60 months" "on all new 2006 Mazda cars and trucks" was passed off to corporate to contact me.
I just got off the phone with Mark from Mazda HQ and his reply was that Mazda would not honour 0% financing beyond 24 months (except where it matches their current promotions as indicated by the "incentives" portion of the www.mazda.ca website). Myself and numerous friends have reviewed the ad and CLEARLY believe that Mazda has offered 0% for up to 60 months on all new cars and trucks.
The Mazda representative stated that the part about "see(ing) dealers for details" allows them to only offer 0% to 24 months. He acknowledged that the ad may have been a misprint and that it was being reviewed for revision.
This seems very unethical at best to me and at worst illegal. I'm not sure how to proceed as I am expecting the arrival of my car in the next few days and currently have a financing agreement of 4.9% for 60 months, therefore I could stand to save considerably if Mazda will honour the ad.
J. A., Toronto
Mazda3’s Weak AC
Just want to give you quick review of my 2005 Mazda3 that I bought April/05.
I have only 6500Km and so far I will be to the dealer for a few repairs under warranty.
To date I have squeaky brakes--appeared within the first 2 weeks. There is a TSB for the repair but was issued for the 2004 model. Hopefully they will correct this problem for me.
But to date the biggest down side for the car is the weak A/C system. The system on a hot day doesn't seem to cool the cabin. The 2004s had a TSB issued for just this problem. The solution was the installation of what they call a diffuser plate that was installed over the evaporator with the theory of trapping air so it stays over the evaporator longer. They suggest keeping the fan speed at 2, any higher seems to reduce the cooling. There are a few Mazda forums where many members feel the A/C is weak but there are a few members that feel it is ok. There are many opinions of what maybe wrong with the system anywhere from too small to the frequent (every 10 sec) on-off of the compressor. I did take mine in for a check, as I felt mine was weak, and they of course say it is operating normally. I was told my 2005 came from the factory with the diffuser plate already installed. I also believe Mazda is aware of the A/C problem but can not come up with a cheap fix and they can not do any more to improve it. I see no point in complaining to them.
The 2004 has a long list of TSBs. Have come across 2 forum members that have engine knock to complete breakdown and replacement.
The automatic tranny is not very smooth but a grounding wire to the throttle body could solve it according to other owners and could also smooth out the slight rough idle. Not a Mazda fix.
Over all it is a fun car to drive, handles nicely, good brakes but if the A/C is important to future buyers, I would not recommend this car, the 06 might be better? It is a classic case of a great looking car, good value for the money but underneath the outer skin it may lack reliability, at least to this point. More money spent on design than on engineering. Also reports of stalling and frequent CEL coming on.
I have the 2.3L engine and the gas mileage is not that good so far. I would say about or below average for the size of the car, but I believe it does well on highway driving compared to stop and go as some forum members have mentioned.
Here is a link to the TSB list for the Mazda 3, I see some of the 05 owners are starting to experience some of the 04 problems.
If I would have tested this car during a hot day in July and with the weak A/C I don't think I would have bought the car. I owned a 1999 Cavalier previously that I gave to my daughter; presently, it has 85Km and since new the car was only in for 1 TSB and nothing else. The first brake job was at 80KM, yes 80,000. Rear brakes are still original. The A/C after 6 years will freeze you out and never has been serviced. Nothing else to this point has gone wrong no other minor or major repairs. Kind of wish I kept it.
I think with the Mazda I will trade it in after 3 years when the warranty runs out as I am not sure I can trust its long term reliability, but time will tell.
Have come across people who are buying the Mazda3 over the Accord only because of the price difference and so called value but I tell them stick with the Accord or even a Camry, which both will be my next choices to consider and or what else in 3 years will be on the market...Mazda NO.
I hope my opinion has been helpful.
B. T., Ottawa, Ontario
Ford Tie-Rod Separation
Just a bit of feedback that may be useful for your books:
Today the driver's side tie rod end on my Grand Marquis 1997 separated (I have 187,000KM on the clock). I was unbelievably lucky as it separated in my driveway rather than on the Queensway! It seems to be a bit of an issue with some Fords . . .
G. W., Toronto, Ontario
Nissan in Guelph Won’t Bid
Just an update...I've been through just about every Nissan dealership in Guelph and the surrounding area and have one conclusion…unless you’re prepared to pay full price, stay away from Nissan and indeed most likely any asian automaker. The process of emailing requests for quotes was done with GM dealers in Southwestern Ontario, approximately 50 were emailed and about 50% responded, the email system is just another way for the Sales Consultants to lie to the customer. And boy, did I get some whoppers! The Car Cost Canada site is an aid, but you’re still left in the dark, not knowing if the dealer has any Factory to Dealer incentives like Quick Bucks, but it does give you something to work on. The letter sums it up. I have a draft detailing more which I plan on sending to the Competition watchdogs in Ottawa.
B. T., Guelph, Ontario
No Kia Magentis Brake Parts?
I may not have the name of this vehicle correct but I thought that you may like to know that brake parts aren’t available in Canada for this vehicle. A customer called into Alan Gelman’s CFRB radio show this past Saturday and said he needed four disc's for this vehicle, but was told the only place he could get them was in Korea at a cost of $1500.00!
Alan told him that because it was a rare vehicle, outside manufactures don’t have parts available.
G. L., Toronto
Beware GM Minivan Rentals
We have just finished our vacation to the Maritimes from Ontario. In Ottawa, we picked up an Uplander van at the rental place. In Fredericton, we exchanged it for a Montana (because of a faulty cruise control). These vans have to be the most uncomfortable vechicles around. Every time we left the van, our (mine and my husband's) backs were aching. Our children (13 and 15) complained that the second row of seats were designed very awkwardly (they are narrower at the base and wider at the leg area). Moreover, we found the van to have very little cargo space unless the third row of seats is lowered. Oh, and last but not least, the GPS system that is supposed to guide you in your trip always read that we were going north. Very odd! All in all, we were extremely disappointed with this minivan and would never purchase one
2001 Hyundai Santa Fe Owner Review
I recently purchased a 2001 Sante Fe 2.7 litre AWD vehicle with approximately 80,000 km on it. After reviewing the service records for this vehicle and identifying new issues since my purchase I provide for your information the following potential problem areas:
1) Poor automatic transmission shifting that can be corrected under warranty by Hyundai released update for the Transmission Control Module.
2) Premature wearing of brakes particularly in rear brakes caused by brake pads getting stuck on. Problem can be corrected by lubrication of brake pad slider mechanism about twice a year.
3) Gaskets leaking on valve covers and transfer case.
4) Leaking seal on cam shaft that is covered under warranty
5) Leaking timing belt tensioner. Repair covered under warranty.
6) Premature wear in steering stabalizer bar bushing requiring replacement in stabalizer bar bushings and brackets.
7) Potential wearing through of a hole in a rad hose because a battery cable clamp rubs up against the rad hose. Problem can be repaired by inserting a rubber shield on the rad hose that protects the rad hose from wear by the battery cable clamp.
8) Excessive engine noise caused by and requiring replacement of camshaft timing chains and chain guides.
9) Recalls for replacement of Transmission Cooler lines; crank positioning sensor, and Oxygen Sensor.
10) Malfunction of CKP sensor that leads to vehicle running poorly and requiring replacement of CKP sensor.
Fortunately the dealer from who I purchased the vehicle repaired at no cost to me any issues I identified after my purchase.
Joe, Toronto, Ontario
My First Used Car
I bought Lemon-aid Used Cars and Minivans about two weeks before purchasing my first car. It gave me important tips on what to look for and how to negotiate. I felt more comfortable with my decisions and was able to save a few thousand dollars on the purchase on my car. However, when I finally agreed to buy the car, I was at a loss as to what came next, but at least the hard part was done. I knew I needed license plates and insurance but wasn’t sure if I was responsible for that, or the dealer. I consulted my parents and friends and found out that I needed to arrange to have Ontario insurance in place before my car could be registered with the DMV.
I got some internet insurance quotes (about $2000 a year) and then called my parents insurance company (who’d I been insured with when I drove my parents cars) and they wanted double what the online quotes offered! Essentially it boiled down to when I received my full G licence, as opposed to my G2. (Ontario has a graduated licensing program.) Because I waited to take my G test, as far as my parent’s insurance company was concerned I had only had my license for 3 years, not 7 (i.e., starting when I got my G2). I called the company (RBC Insurance) that I received my online quote with and they recognized my pre-G2 time and credited me with a 7 year clean record and honoured the online quote. I then requested my insurance company fax my information to the dealer; this allowed to dealer to proceed with the registration process (the fax is only valid for 30 days or basically until the permanent pink card comes in the mail). (Be prepared to pay for 2 months worth of insurance within a short time of getting your insurance.)
The registration process cost me $45 because of when my birthday was in the year, so expect to pay upwards of $100 to get registered if your birthday has just past. This price was in addition to the negotiated price, so don’t be shocked; it isn’t really a hidden fee, every year near your birthday you will have to re-register your car (the little stickers you see on peoples license plates).
The dealer was also responsible for “safety checking” the car, which was done for free. Pete Whittington, Waterloo, Ontario
I AM Woman, Bring on the Salesmen
Phil, I not only got the cost of my trade in from your current book, but loads of ideas to tackle the next purchase. I will be getting a 2000 Honda with just under 83,000K on it and at the high end of your range for this vehicle as stated in your book. How did I pull that off knowing females are ‘suckers’ in the car industry. I followed many of your directions and suggestions. Prior to actually getting out of the car, I did lots of reading of your book, and wandering around the web on the cost and what was out there at the moment in and around my home. I checked with one brother and a mechanic, both very up on vehicles. All 3 of my brothers are very up on vehicles.
I had popped in on the third Saturday of the month to walk about and saw one that looked good and got the verbal information from the salesman and found out it had sat on the lot for 6 weeks! Stale inventory I said to myself. This may be a good choice I thought.
I did all the research on the CARFAX to see if there was a specific recall based on the VIN and found the general ones like the ones you have stated in your book. Then went in to ‘do battle’ 5 days after speaking with the salesman and 7 days before month end. The heat outside is both unremitting and unbearable and the humidity is killing people. So I go in on Thursday afternoon, take out the car for a spin and it feels good except the driving wheel shimmy which I am told is entirely related to the need for wheel alignment. I check the suspension as suggested, rust proofing, wheel wells, trunk, as suggested by your book but did get a bit suspicious about how ‘very clean’ the engine looks. I raised the issue of recalls, and finally the head of repairs at the dealership assured me he did not know anything about transmission recalls etc, but does indicate with a photocopy that I can keep, there is extended transmission warranty on the vehicle for 7yr/160,000 k, and 8yr/130,000K extended warranty on the EGR Port Plugging. All very nice after I was told American recall notices do not apply to Canadian cars as our standards are different!
Then comes the ‘how can we make this work for you today?’ question. Well, listed at $16,695.00 fully loaded, they tell me my RAV4 is worth $5,500.00, and they will of course do all the safety stuff on the 2000 Accord, and by the way lady it needs new tires because the current ones are not even road worthy let alone safe. Of course they have to tell me about the fabulous financing again when I had already said my financing was secured. We dicker a bit, and said, I wanted $7,000.00 for my car and that prompted them to take that off the top of the $16,995.00. I leave after the business manager tries to make it work for me today and again told the used car sales for the month were really, really low. I thanked them all for their time, said I needed a couple of days to think about it, and leave. Friday, I call Honda America and confirm no specific recalls related to this particular VIN. I also got the ‘Case No’ so that if I actually buy the car, I have that to help me along in the future.
Saturday afternoon: heat and humidity is over 40C [110F+], and 5 days to month end and last weekend of the month. One could fry an egg on the asphalt. I get a call from the used car salesman. Where was I now? We have not sold one used car today, and the place closes in 2 hours. It’s the heat and humidity. We are all just standing around. Come in, let’s talk. So I thought, I will shower and change, get in by 5pm with a magazine to read between offers. I said I want $14,995.00, all the safety, emissions as required, free alignment and 4 new tires, [not Bridgestone or Firestone], Steering Wheel shimmy fixed [which I am assured is all related to alignment]. Off goes the guy and back he comes while I am reading a magazine in the cool showroom.
I could have all I wanted but please pay $16,695.00 rather than at $16,995. A mere $400.00 below sticker price.
Please be flexible ma’am, I’m told and our sales this month are rather low. Like I care!
I wait it out, ask about warranty on tires, stall some more with small talk.
No, I wanted all I asked for at $14,995.00 and it was 5:20pm.
Reluctantly, the sales guy goes back in and I read my magazine, and they see I am reading a magazine.
What do I have to loose? I still have a car for heaven sakes!
Then the sales guy comes back at 5:30pm, and says, I can have all I want, for $15,995.00 [$1,000.00 below sticker]
Please be flexible, ma’am as we are trying to make this work for you.
I did indicate that I did all the research on the car and showed them the reports and the recall issues, American and Canadian.
I listen to more about the cost of their prep of the car for me which is $700.00 they absorb, the alignment which is about $100.00, and tires at $600.00 they are willing to absorb.
I wait some more, and it is 5:40pm, when I said let’s try, $15,495.00 which is $500.00 over my original.
I wait and read my magazine some more. They can see that I am reading and ignoring them.
At 5:50 pm, the business manager comes over to extend congratulations at getting the car, with all I asked for at $15,495.00
So I figured since they did not want to up the value of my trade in by $1,500.00, I demanded free parts and repairs beyond the safety and emissions standards, and lowered they sticker price by $1,500.00.
They made one used car sale on a blistering, sickening hot day. I think between the research I did, the really awful weather, late Saturday afternoon anxiety that they had not sold one used car, a few days before month end, and me just reading a magazine between offers which said, I am not going to be show any empathy about low sales and costs to absorb was the combination that just did it for me.
So, Phil, thanks, thanks, and more thanks.
L. M., Toronto, Ontario
Toyota Rav4 Beats Subaru Forester
I exchanged emails with you last fall when I inquired which of your forthcoming "Lemon-Aid" guides would include the 2006 Subaru Forester. In your response you suggested I don't rush into that purchase and look at the alternatives.
This note is to thank you for that advice, which I took, along with purchasing both the SUV and car Lemon-Aid guides for 2006.
I subsequently decided against the Subaru. Partly because of the things in your guide but also after looking at the quality and finish. I narrowed the search to the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. I agreed with your comments about finish (they were at least comparable) though I thought the folding center table and front arms rests on the CR-V looked cheap. Being over 6 feet tall I found the leg room at the front of the CR-V to be a little restricted and also the protruding glove box can only be opened if your passenger is a dwarf or double amputee, or gets out of the vehicle altogether. The RAV4 storage has the advantage (for me) that the back seats fold flat with the floor which gives me more room for what I need to haul. Anyway, I've never really enjoyed picnics to the CR-V table didn't get any votes.
The upshot of it is that I now own a RAV4 (which I am pleased with) and a long list of car dealers who will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.
Thanks for your help both in terms of your earlier advice and that contained in your guides which I deem worth their weight in gold.
C. P., Rosemont, Ontario
Acura CSX Beats the Honda Accord
We decided to buy the Touring model of the CSX (the basic model without the
sunroof). We test drove the Hyundai Sonata, the Civic and the Accord. The
Hyundai was certainly comparable to the Accord, and was being substantially
discounted. However, the Accord also had a sale of $1500 off the list price
plus 2.9% financing, so there was only $1000 between the Accord and the
Hyundai, and based on resale values we would have bought the Accord. The
list for the CSX was about $3000 more than the Accord after we took into
account the difference in the financing packages. We managed to get a
reduction of $900 off the CSX list price based on the Honda sale. We liked
the CSX because we found it fun to drive, very maneuverable, and quieter
than the Accord. We were influenced by your evaluation of the Acuras as
compared to the Honda.
We would never have looked at the Acura if we hadn't read your book. We also
might have bought some of the option packages, such as rust proofing, fabric
care or an extended warranty if we hadn't read your book. We thank you for
your work in writing this book.
We are both lawyers and reasonably competent consumers. We are going to be
recommending your book to all our friends.