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Help! My car's a lemon and my dealer has given up

Can you help me Rob? I'm at my wits end.

I have had an ongoing transmission issue with 2008 Honda Accord and in a nutshell, the dealer is done with me. It's an automatic V6. My transmission won't go into first gear when I pull it out of park.

I have had discussions with the service manger and the owner but they are not able (willing) to do anything more about the shifting problem. I've had it in and out of the shop so many times, it is now as much an inconvenience as it is a car problem.

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What can I do? Do I have any other options?

Frustrated in Barrie

FiB, cars can be a source of joy AND frustration all on the same day. What gets me in this day and age is this: Any shop (car dealer or mom-and-pop shop) needs to remember two things:

The customer pays the way. Without customers, there is no business in the first place. When a vehicle comes to a shop for service, the entire staff at that business must recognize they will be working on something that may be the most expensive purchase of that household.

Any of the successful service centres that I'm aware of not only practice these two philosophies; they include their customers in their vision, creating a mutual respect that brings repeat business and, most of the time, new business. This is what separates a good repair facility from a great repair facility.

FiB, a vehicle becomes a very valuable member of the family and more times than not, passion becomes part of the equation. This is why so many customers get so frustrated when things don't go right at a repair shop. This also explains why entities like the Better Business Bureau exist, which brings me to one of your options - CAMVAP.

CAMVAP is the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan. Their website explains it best:

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"CAMVAP is a cross-Canada program that you can use to resolve disputes with a manufacturer about defects in your vehicle's assembly or materials, or how the manufacturer is applying or administering its new vehicle warranty. Disputes are resolved through binding arbitration. CAMVAP covers most domestic and imported passenger cars, light trucks, sport utility vehicles, vans and multi-purpose passenger vehicles purchased or leased in Canada, as long as the vehicle is the current model or one of four previous model years."

The process of using CAMVAP is not unlike taking a car manufacturer to court. The differences are that CAMVAP presents the case on your behalf, it's free and they have a lot more clout than you and I. As positive as this sounds, I don't want you to think that this is a process without legwork. There will be fact finding and evidence collection.

I can tell you that it works because I suggested this to my in-laws several years ago. The case actually never made it to CAMVAP because as soon as it was mentioned at the dealer, a resolution was agreed upon. Now I'm not saying that you will have the same success, however, this speaks to the power behind this Plan.

The idea is not for the consumer and manufacturer to beat up on each other, but rather come to a reasonable solution for the most compelling presenter. Some members of this corporation are also representatives of the automotive industry, albeit minority members. The rest of the plan members are made up of consumers and provincial government agents.

Now FiB, before you start pounding away at your keyboard zeroing in on the CAMVAP web site, you have one more option, and that is to write a letter to Honda Canada. Often a well-balanced and rationally presented case (with supporting documents) will get the attention of a head office.

Send your correspondence to:

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Honda Canada Customer Relations 715 Milner Avenue Toronto, ON M1B 2K8

Telephone: 1-888-946-6329

All the best FiB, and don't despair, you will get happy.

Have a car maintenance issue? E-mail Rob at

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About the Author
Globe Drive columnist

As associate dean of Motive Power programs at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Rob MacGregor has nearly three decades' experience in training the province's automotive technicians. He has written extensively on car mechanics, appears regularly on television and is a member of the Autotmobile Journalists Association of Canada. More


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