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Ask Joanne

Frustrated driver looking for lemon aid Add to ...

I'm desperate for some help. I've had my 2007 Hyundai Tucson into the dealership for almost two years due to a severe engine shudder. After a tire flew off while I was driving (the dealership had just rotated the tires), I hit the roof and demanded they give me something else in trade - anything would do, I wasn't fussy. I just don't trust this vehicle. Hyundai Canada claims this is a dealership problem and won't help, and now the dealership is stalling again.

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This latest manager at the dealership, along with a sales manager, has been "looking into" getting something to trade with me for more than a month now - I haven't received one call from him, so that tells how much effort they're putting into this.

I'm sure if I was a six-foot-four aggressive man, this would have been resolved ages ago. - Donna in Ontario

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Two years of engine shudder is bad enough, but a flying tire is guaranteed to bring anyone to a breaking point. It sounds as though things have escalated over the past two years, and assuming this isn't simply a case of loose screws, it's easy to understand why you've lost faith in the vehicle.

First off, being large, male and aggressive doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get on better in the world of automotives. If so, it would perhaps be tough to explain why Jay Leno's car collection is far more impressive than Mike Tyson's.

Hyundai Tucson

"Size really has nothing to do with it. If women realized how many stupid questions I've been asked by men, they wouldn't worry," says Tracy Beresford, service adviser at Brown Bros. Ford in Vancouver.

"The automotive industry is still a bit of a mystery to a lot of women. They come in, they don't know the questions to ask, they don't know anything about cars. The important things are having all the vehicle service info ready, and asking questions. It's about attitude."

Since knowledge is power, what do you need to know? "There are two issues here. The problem may be a manufacturing issue, or a faulty repair from the dealership," says George Powell of the Automobile Protection Association, a non-profit, membership-based, consumer advocacy group that also publishes the Lemon-Aid car guides.

In terms of repair work, if the servicing of your vehicle had been carried out at two or three different shops, it might be hard to point a finger at one particular place. "It sounds as though the work in question here was done at one dealership, though. Obviously then, they would have some culpability," says Powell.

Whether it's a manufacturing issue or a repair issue, the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council is the watchdog for automotive dealerships in Ontario. "We'll recommend people to OMVIC, and to the equivalent in B.C., Alberta, and so on. She can go to the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP) and try to get resolution that way," says Powell. CAMVAP will hear cases for vehicles with up to 160,000 kilometres and four model years old as of Sept. 30. A 2007 would be eligible for a CAMVAP hearing until Sept. 30, 2011 - unless it has too many kilometres, or you've been using it for commercial purposes.

So, what can you do if CAMVAP can't help? You'll need a lawyer - perhaps even a large aggressive one.

"We provide free legal consultations to members. If one of our members has an issue they can't resolve, then they do have the opportunity to consult our lawyer. He can take them on if he thinks they have a strong case, or advise them if he doesn't think they'll win," says Powell.

Assuming you haven't gone over 100,000 kilometers, your vehicle - including the engine - is still under factory warranty. According to Hyundai Canada, you're not limited to servicing from the dealership where you purchased the car. Any Hyundai dealership can do the warranty service.

Treat your vehicle's health like your own; if you're not happy, get a second opinion.

E-Mail Ask Joanne at globedrive@globeandmail.com

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