The Lemon-Aid guides have an extensive listing of valuable websites. Here are just a few of the sites you will find within the pages of Lemon-Aid.
Automobile Consumer Coalition (www.carhelpcanada.com)
Founded by the former director of the Toronto Automobile Protection Association, Mohamed Bouchama, the ACC provides many of the same services as the APA (see below); however, it has been refined for its Ontario members. You can also reach them by telephone (416-651-0555), fax (416-651-5465), or email ([email protected]).
Automobile Protection Association (www.apa.ca)
This Montreal-based consumer group fights for safer vehicles and has exposed many scams associated with new-vehicle sales, leasing, and repairs; for a small fee it will send you the invoice price for most new vehicles.
CBC TV’s Marketplace (cbc.ca/consumers/market/files/cars/index.html)
Marketplace has been the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s premier national consumer show for almost three decades. Its site has extensive links and in-depth reports on Chrysler paint delamination (Shadow/Sundance in Nova Scotia), ABS brake failures, airbag dangers, and a host of other automotive topics.
Consumer Reports (consumerreports.org)
This independent monthly magazine is published in the States by the non-profit Consumers Union. Smart consumers will pay $3.95 for one month on-line, and then download all the comparison tests and product or service reviews they need.
Metro Credit Union (www.metrocu.com)
A unique credit union that puts a car broker (Dave Lawrence or Robert LoPresti) at its members’ disposition to negotiate new- or used-vehicle sales. Phone 905-831-3783 or 1-800-777-8507.
The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (www.omvic.on.ca)
Most provinces have voluntary industry associations that mediate consumer disputes and encourage businesses to deal honestly with their customers. Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) has gotten millions of dollars returned to consumers through its mediation efforts. Consumers who have a complaint against a registered dealer for odometer tampering, accident non-disclosure or other concerns can call OMVIC’s complaint handling line at 1-800-943-6002, or 416-226-4500.
Incidentally, the provincial Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund can reimburse consumers up to $15,000.
Class Actions (www.bigclassaction.com)
This site lists U. S. complaints, lawsuits, judgments, and settlements. Pending actions and investigations: Audi defective windshields and TT electronic malfunctions; Cooper Tire; DaimlerChrysler engine oil sludge, minivans rolling away; Neon engine head gaskets, paint delamination, and faulty seatbelt buckles; upper ball joint defects in 1998-2003 Dodge Durangos; Ford/Lincoln faulty heater blend door; GM Dex-Cool coolant which may corrode the heating system; Astro van rear axle failures; Aztek defects; “Detroit 500” 12.7L diesel truck engines with oil leakage problems; GMC trucks that stall without warning; Hyundai horsepower misrepresentation; Kia horsepower misrepresentation with 2001-02 Optima; Sephia stalling; Mazda defective transmissions; Mercedes-Benz price-fixing; Nissan Pathfinder engine manifold studs; Ontario auto insurers who may have withheld insurance deductibles for written off cars; Saturn defective timing chains; Toyota engine sludge; and VW New Beetle dash fires.
Incidentally; Mercedes-Benz has reached a $32 million dollar settlement with plaintiffs in an class action lawsuit filed against them by owners of some 1998 through 2001 models. The suit claims that the company failed to inform car owners that non-synthetic motor oil could case engine wear and damage. There were 351,439 plaintiffs in the action, and they will receive $35 worth of vouchers to be used towards an oil change. The company has also agreed to extend the warranty coverage on plaintiffs vehicles, to cover costs related to the damage.
In Canada, Shell Canada will give compensation in full for automobile fuel pump and sensor repairs and out-of-pocket expenses. The settlement can be found at http://www.shell.ca/code/help/faq/claim_form.pdf, or call 1-866-691-2697.Shell says claimants’ vehicles must, between March 1, 2001 and July 31, 2002, have had one or both of the two fuel system problems listed above; The company also says all claims for compensation must be postmarked not later than May 7, 2004; payouts are limited to a maximum of $175 for repairs or out-of-pocket expenses, and Jeeps are excluded (no, I don’t know why).
Shhh! Don’t tell Shell, but small claims court judges can toss out any or all of these restrictions. Particularly, now that Shell insurers are giving full compensation, without limitations to American car owners (888-502-7323; www.interactclaims.com/shell). A Broward County, Florida class action has been filed. Class action status is being sought for a lawsuit filed by the Automobile Protection Association (www. apa.ca) against DaimlerChrysler Canada and Honda Canada on behalf of approximately 30,000 consumers from Quebec. The suit alleges that the companies have refused to cover the cost of some of the costs related to recalls of their own cars in Quebec. The suit claims that car dealerships have been charging to re-connect various aftermarket accessories such as anti-theft devices, remote-controlled car starters and radios after repairing a vehicle that had been recalled.
The automobiles in question in the suit include:
2001 and 2002 DaimlerChrysler Caravan/Grand Caravan and Town and Country minivans, 1998-2000 Honda Civics, 1997-99 Accords, Preludes, CR-V sport utilities and Odyssey minivans, and 1997-2000 Acura CL, EL and TL sedans.
Center for Auto Safety (www.autosafety.org)
Consumers Union and Ralph Nader founded the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) to provide consumers with a voice for auto safety and quality.
U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems)
This free database lists owner complaints, recall campaigns, crashworthiness and rollover ratings, defect investigations, service bulletin summaries, and safety research papers.
Other useful sites:
deals only with decades of crash tests results
provides test results from all over the world
is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety site that rates vehicles for off-set crashworthiness and head restraint protection
blew the whistle on dangerous Firestone tires and can provide research, investigation, analysis, and education on safety issues
Information :: Mediation :: Protest
Chrysler Products’ Problem Web Page (www.wam.umd.edu/~gluckman/Chrysler)
A resource for Chrysler owners who have had problems in dealing with Chrysler, including issues with peeling paint, transmission failure, the Chrysler-installed Bendix-10 ABS, and other maladies.
See also: Dodge Caravan Transmission Problems at http://www.dodge-caravan.com. Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge Car Information (www.allpar.com)
This is an excellent website that’s jam-packed with historical information, tips on fixing common problems inexpensively, and advice on how to deal with Chrysler representatives and dealer service managers. DaimlerChrysler Vehicle Problems Group (intrepid.clan-510.org)
A compendium of 1998–2002 300M, Concorde, Intrepid, and LHS owner complaints relating to steering, suspension, automatic transmission, and engine failures. Comprehensive and well-written, with plenty of photos, links, and tech info. Dead Ford Owners’ Page (modena.intergate.ca/ personal/djk/)
Dead Ford is a play on the acronym F.O.R.D.: “Found On the Road, Dead,” or, when read backward, “Driver Returns On Foot.” The site is a useful gathering place for Ford car, truck, sport-utility, minivan, and van owners, who discuss problems and solutions. Ford Insider Info (www.blueovalnews.com)
This website is the place to go for all the latest insider info on Ford’s quality problems. Ford Windstar Customer Action Information (home.att.net/~ccatanese/ford)
This is the most comprehensive site relating to faulty engine gaskets on Ford’s 3.8L and 4.2L engines. Plenty of technical help, supported by internal service bulletins and extended warranties you can download. Many links to other helpful sites. GM Intake Manifold Defects (www.gm-v6lemons.com)
A 1999 GM Venture owners’ campaign against leaky plastic intake gaskets affecting 1995–2002 3.1L, 3.4L, and 3.8L V6 engines as well as the V-8 used in the Tahoe, trucks, and Suburbans. Good links and technical info. A related site at www.geocities.com/b_gillie/dexcool_problems details thorough TSBs, photos, and other sites related to the 4.3L engine defects caused by GM’s Dex-Cool coolant. Neon Enthusiasts (www.neons.org)
Lots of technical info and service tips from owners and mechanics. A good place to find Chrysler TSBs relating to engine head gasket failures and other problems afflicting Neons. Taurus Transmission Victims (members.aol.com/MKBradley/index.html)
A great site for learning about Ford’s biodegradable automatic transmissions (1991–99) from Lincoln Continental, Taurus, Sable, and Windstar owners. Expert mechanics give the why and how.
Information :: Services
ALLDATA Service Bulletins (www.alldata.com/consumer/TSB/yr.html)
Free summaries of recalls, secret warranties, and technical service bulletins, but you can’t see the contents of individual bulletins. Subscribe, for about $25 (U.S.), and you’ll get a CD-ROM or a password to download 1972–2004 bulletins from the Internet.
Canadian Driver (www.canadiandriver.com)
An exceptionally well structured and current Canadian website for new- and used-vehicle reviews, MSRP prices, and consumer reports prepared by Canadian journalists.
If you suspect a used vehicle is a rebuilt wreck, use CARFAX (tel.: 1-888-422-7329) to carry out a background check to see if the vehicle has been “scrapped,” had flood damage, is stolen, or shows incorrect mileage on the odometer. There’s a fee of $14.95 U.S. ($23.39 Cdn.) if the order is placed via the Internet.
Car Reviews by Owners (www.carreview.com/)
Thousands of owner reports are presented to give prospective buyers a realistic idea of how each vehicle performs after many years, when driven by average owners. Cartrackers (www.cartrackers.com) This is a large site that has a nice balance of the pros and cons of vehicle ownership. Its technical resources are impressive, and there are experts to advise you on everything from secret warranties to simple maintenance.
Consumer’s Guide to Insurance (www.insurancehotline.com)
This free service can yield big savings by giving you comparison quotes for a wide range of insurance plans through its website and 24-hour telephone number (416-686-0531).
Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds (www.kbb.com, www.edmunds.com)
Good reviews of almost every vehicle sold in North America, plus an informative readers’ forum.
A very well-written Ottawa-based site that targets the performance crowd on both sides of the border. Articles are hard-hitting and play no favourites.
The Truth About Cars (www.pistonheads.com/truth)
British journalist Robert Farago’s site has biting comments on everything from German automakers’ quality decline (“German Brands Sluts”) to auto show models (“Motor Show Hookers”)
Vehicle Information Centre of Canada (www.vicc.com/index2.htm)
Part of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. VICC’s “How Cars Measure Up” compares the insurance claims experience of 1998–99 model vehicles for collision, personal injury, and theft losses.