7 On Your Side

Lemon Law helps Alameda couple with Ford car

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Consumer advocates say California has one of the strongest Lemon Laws in the nation. A recent case involving an Alameda couple put that law to the test.

No one expects to have problems with a shiny brand new car. But if it does happen, hopefully you'll be protected by the Lemon Law.

"A lot of times we had to bring our car into Ford. The paperwork is a big, big stack," said Mel Waldorf of Alameda.

Waldorf goes through the pile of repair orders he's accumulated since purchasing a Ford Flex in November 2010. A few weeks after driving it off the lot, he began noticing problems.

"There was a shutter in the breaking and there was a rattle in the roof," said Waldorf.

It was a problem noted by Ford in a technical service bulletin sent to its service centers just two months earlier. "Ford 2010 all wheel drive vehicles may have a shudder/vibration or a clunk noise while driving in low speeds." Waldorf said Ford had barely fixed that problem, when another developed.

"There was a chrome panel on the rear hatch that was starting to lift off the body of the car. The rear left hand door, the driver side rear door didn't close completely flush with the car," said Waldorf.

Once again, the car went back to the shop.

"This experience was extremely stressful," said Jessica Lindsey of Alameda.

Lindsey is Mel's wife and the primary driver of the Flex. The collectibles dealer used it to both drive her daughter and for her business.

"I'm not a car enthusiast. I like my cars to be safe, practical, reliable, and that's why we got this car and it turned out not to be the case," said Lindsey.

The biggest problem was with the transmission.

"When I noticed the first problem, which is the problem to me is when it would stall as I was making a turn. The other things were irritating, but that one just really scared me and I felt really unsafe driving," said Lindsey.

That was the same problem noted in a Ford technical service bulletin in January of 2011. In fact, in all there have been 13 such bulletins issued about the Flex since 2010.

"The consumers described some substantial defects, defects that substantially affect use, value and safety. There's no doubt about that because a transmission obviously is pretty essential," said Mark Anderson, a Lemon Law attorney.

Anderson says in California a new car is presumed to be a lemon if it's been in the shop 30 days within an 18 month period. Records kept by Mel show his Flex was quickly approaching that threshold. He contacted 7 On Your Side and we contacted Ford and it agreed to give Waldorf and Lindsey a brand new Flex.

"I want to thank Michael Finney and all the staff of 7 On Your Side that made it possible for us to get this car that we finally have been wanting for all these months," said Lindsey.

No one from Ford was available for comment. Waldorf tells us this is the eighth Ford he's owned and he is extremely pleased with the way the carmaker handled his concerns.

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Tags:
ford, alameda, 7 on your side, michael finney
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