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Automotive Dispute Resolution

This page is designed to help those who are having a
dispute with Chrysler or a dealer. Please
use this link to provide feedback on dealers or repair shops.


<a name="warranties"></a>Chrysler Warranties

If you have a problem not covered by the normal warranty, see if
it is covered by the emissions (or another
"secret") warranty
.

Chrysler sometimes authorizes repairs after the warranty is over,
depending on the circumstances and the staffer's mood. While dealers
can do this in some cases, few will take the risk.

paramus.jpg


Dealers may think something is not covered when it really is. This
is often due to their own misunderstanding. Politely ask them if it
would be covered under the emissions warranty (if applicable, e.g. if
it is an emissions-related part).

(You should read your
owner's manual thoroughly, particularly the warranty sections, before
speaking with a dealer, so that you can calmly and politely say
something like, "I thought the warranty covered spark plugs
until the first recommended change interval. Would you mind if
I checked the warranty in my glove compartment?")

If cases where the service person is sure something is not
covered, ask if they would mind if you called Chrysler to see if you
could get an authorization for them. Make sure your attitude conveys
the message that "I'm trying to help you to get paid for this by
the company" rather than "I'm going to complain about your
miserly tactics." Service people usually do not mind your
calling Chrysler if you say up front that you are doing it to get
authorization for them.

Resources

There are many resources for those who are having a dispute with a
dealer or a car company. For some, you will have to wait until the
end of this page, or visit our auto links sections. But since I think
you should read the rest of this page, I'd appreciate your not going
there now!

Ralph Nader's Center for Auto Safety, at (202) 328-7700, has
information on hidden warranties, common problems, and a directory of
lawyers who can handle auto fraud cases. The quality of the lawyers
themselves is hard to judge - that doesn't mean we have received good
or bad reports. A similar referral service is run by two lawyers in
Boston, who head the National Association of Consumer Advocates
(617-723-1239), but your chances of reaching CAS are higher.

Watch out in small claims or special civil court because many
lawyers will be over-eager to settle, when you have a strong case.
This is because it is easy to grab the quick buck and move on to the
next case, and more trouble to actually sue. Of course you run the
risk in court of losing and having to pay massive legal fees. In many
states you can handle cases by yourself.

Used car guides are interesting but rarely too helpful, because
they are often inaccurate or missing key information. Consumer
Reports
' statistical methods are questionable, and the others
tend to be high on opinion. Consumers
Guide's book
has concise write-ups and details on resale value
and some specs. Jack Gillis' Used
Car Book
is interesting, but some of its conclusions are
questionable for the average driver. If you're serious about spending
a real chunk of change for a used car, consider all sources,
including mailing lists (which are usually more reliable than
newsgroups).

grand.jpg


When looking for used car prices, remember the difference between
retail and wholesale. Kelly's Blue Book
is the one most often used by car dealers; they buy at wholesale and
sell at resale, and pocket a nice chunk of change, figure about
$1,500, along the way. Sell privately if you can!

The Lemon-Aid Used Car Guide, by Phil
Edmonston
, has been recommended. Phil
seems like a very nice guy, based on a brief e-mail correspondence
around a questionable clutch job (a job that normally costs $450,
billed out at $900 - and their work seems to have permanently damaged the car) by Dodge of
Paramus. I did get this review from a reader:



  • Phil Edmonston is the founder of the Automobile Protection
    Association (APA) and is a former member of Canadian Parliament. He
    has fought car manufacturers both in and out of the courtroom. He is
    Canada's best-known consumer advocate and rates all vehicles, both
    new and old. He is often called into court as an expert witness.<a name="choose-dealer"></a>
Choosing a Chrysler or Dodge dealer

Nothing beats the recommendation of a knowledgeable friend or
acquaintance - except your own experience. The sales and service
staff may be night and day in terms of quality and the "user
experience," so never assume that a friendly salesman in front
indicates friendly and competent mechanics in back.

Try to buy from five star dealers,
even though someone new who buys or manages a business with
historically good service and quickly screw it up. Some excellent
dealers get fewer than five stars because they are not good at the
"little things." A five star dealership guarantees nothing,
but it does increase the odds.

Buy from dealerships with good service departments. Avoid dealers
with raucous ads on the radio where the announcer screams at you.

If you have a Dodge (except trucks) any Chrysler dealer can fix
your car, and vice versa. You do not have to return to the dealer you
bought from.

Check the Allpar customer
forum and see if your dealer is listed there, and whether there
are recommendations for someone in your area. If you have had either
a good or bad experience, we suggest you post there.

Note. Some people think dealers hire the best and the
brightest. In fact, according to some research I've been reading,
dealers have a terrible employee loyalty rate, and their mechanics
may have low morale and little experience. Though there are many
dealers who have excellent mechanics, with lots of experience and a
desire to do the job right, many others do not. Don't assume that the
dealer is always better than the garage across the street.

Choosing a body shop

<a name="prevnt"></a>Jeff Silva wrote some tips
which are reproduced in our EEK!
section.

Prevention

Get a copy of your complaint even if no problem is found by
the service techs, so you can, later on, show that a problem existed
earlier. That may convince Chrysler to make good after the warranty
ends, or increase a lemon law settlements.

If there is a "small accident," insist on seeing the
damage in person and get everything in writing. Otherwise you have
little protection against shoddy repairs and peeling paint. Take my
word on this one!

Do not blindly believe anything your dealer tells you. Get
everything in writing. Check questionable statements with the FAQ and
newsgroup.

If you bring in your car, do not accept the "I don't hear it"
or "They all do that" defense. Ask for a test drive with
the manager or a mechanic. Be assertive without being aggressive or
hostile.

Treat your dealership and service advisors well. They have a lot
of discretion in providing extra service. If they like you, they may
also give you a better mechanic.

It's been said before, I'll say it again. Only use Mopar
Type 7176+ Type 3 or equivalent in your four-speed
or Neon automatic transmission. Do
not use Dexron or Dexron II under any circumstances (unless that's what your three speed transmission was designed to take). Make sure
your oil change place knows this and does it. Save yourself a
massive bill. Oh, and only use the recommended oil (see your
service manual, don't listen to service station people). Many
Chrysler dealers don't stock the recommended oil weight! Which, BTW,
is usually 5W30 for the 1980s-1990s cars.

<a name="contacting%20chryselr"></a>If you get a bad dealer, be sure
to fill out and return your survey (knowing that dealers see negative
surveys!). See the note at the bottom of this page.

Contacting Chrysler

Call 1-800-992-1997 to speak with Chrysler Customer
Service
. (USA only).

Send suggestions and complaints to the Chrysler Customer Center,
Box 302, Centerline, MI 48015. Canadians, write to Chrysler Center,
Box 1621, Windsor, Ontario N9A 4H6 or call 800-465-2001. The best
way
to contact Chrysler is by phone. Though there are
times when the phone system is overloaded, the normal waiting time
seems to be less than five minutes. Many letters go into a black
hole!

CTC.jpg


A reader reported two fax numbers (don't expect your faxes to be
read by the addressee):

President's Office 1-248-512-1746

CEO's Office 1-248-512-5143

(names removed due to high turnover rate!)

If you live outside the US and Canada, see your owner's manual for
addresses and phone numbers. (Area code 510 is now 248).

If you suspect your dealer has defrauded Chrysler with false
warranty claims, report it to the Customer Center and ask them to let
you know what happens.

Be polite and calm but assertive at all
times. Do not take no for an answer but do not act angry or
threaten them. This will make matters worse. They are often
sensitive, defensive, and uninformed. If all else fails, call back
and speak to someone else.

One key for them, with out-of-warranty repairs, is whether
the problem existed during the warranty period! That's a good reason
to get all your complaints acknowledged by the dealer in repair forms
and to keep them (and keep 'em well-organized).

Chrysler-HQ.jpg


Never say bad things about your dealer or anyone else unless you
absolutely must. Do not subject them to the anger caused by your
dealer or their employees. This will only hurt your case!

<a name="where%20problem"></a>It is easy to be pegged and written
off as a "bad customer." Don't let them put you into the
loony category.

Is the problem with your car or your dealer?

If your car has lots of problems, your dealer or mechanic might be
screwing it up when trying to find other problems.

If you have problems immediately after having your car serviced,
it may have been the mechanic's fault. Examples:

Note: on Neons, if you hear bubbling when you shut the
engine, immediately refill your antifreeze and change your radiator
cap (which, perversely, is not on the radiator). On any car, check
the antifreeze and/or oil
a few days after any change.
Solutions:



  • Find out what the problem was and
    fix it yourself or demand that the mechanic fix the car (may be
    risky).


  • Ask for your money back


  • Find another mechanic


  • Report the incident to your Consumer Affairs Department,
    Attorney General, Chrysler, and/or the BBB (which may be useless in
    some areas).

Four speed (Chrysler) automatic transmissions cannot
use standard Dexron or Dexron II automatic transmission fluid
!
With transmissions designed to take only Chrysler trans fluid, a
simple fluid change may solve a lot of problems!

Many new cars cannot use 10W40 oil.

Always use the recommended oil and trans
fluid. Never take the oil change place's or the dealer's word
for it. Look it up yourself.

<a name="next%20steps"></a>Whenever your dealer deliberately and
"provably" lies to you or is way too incompetent, send a
letter to Dealer Agreements, Box 302, Centerline, MI 48015.

When they can't find or fix it...

When the service people cannot find problem, ask to take a drive
with the mechanic or a service advisor. If they cannot solve it, ask
the service advisor to escalate it; if they don't know the term,
suggest trying new steps, such as requesting support from Chrysler or
checking the service bulletins. You can also call the Customer Center
and ask them to provide technical assistance to the dealership.

Trying another dealer often works.

<a name="newsgroups"></a>You may wish to bone up on the technical
service bulletins. They are available on-line for a fee, or for
$12-16 per annual book. If you post a problem on
rec.autos.makers.chrysler, someone may look up a bulletin for you; it
helps if you first get a title or do some legwork on your own to see
if there is a bulletin, before you ask one of the
altruistic net.good.citizens. Keep in mind that if you tell them you
looked up the bulletin, you will likely be marked as a crank; but if
you attribute the information to "a friend with the same car,"
you'll probably be OK.

Newgroup Basics

Check the FAQ before posting.

Don't post messages like "this broke and I will speak to the
dealer about it." Go to the dealer first if your car is under
warranty.

<a name="step%20by%20step"></a>If you are having problems with
Chrysler, an angry message or two is fine. However, exaggerating and
spamming reduce the value of the newsgroup to others in need.

Step by Step

Even if you are in an adversarial relationship, act in a friendly,
nonthreatening, non-angry, non-adversarial manner -- but don't take
"no" for an answer.

When you have a problem:



  1. Try to resolve it through
    discussion with the service advisor.


  2. If needed, ask to speak with the
    service manager.


  3. The next step is to call Chrysler
    at 800-992-1997, from a pay phone if you have to. Often, work
    suddenly becomes free or your car gets fixed days or weeks ahead of
    time.


  4. If your dealer keeps fixing the
    same thing over and over again, get another dealer, or ask the
    service manager to escalate the problem (as mentioned earlier).


  5. If your dealer treats you badly,
    lies to you, etc., get another dealer. Dodge, Chrysler-Plymouth, and
    Eagle dealers are interchangeable when both have a version of the
    same car (e.g. Intrepid/Vision/Concord, Neon/Neon, Sebring/Avenger,
    Cirrus/Stratus).


  6. If you have a continuing problem,
    speak to the people at your zone office (in your owner's manual). Be
    polite but assertive. Do not threaten them. If they still don't fix
    the car, politely begin to negotiate.


  7. If you are still having the same problem despite several
    attempts at repairs, read your lemon law guide (in your glove
    compartment). File an official lemon law complaint with your state
    if possible. This will get Chrysler's attention and help your
    negotiation along, but chances are your problem is not serious
    enough to merit a legally imposed solution.
Important: File any lemon law complaints while
you can
! In New Jersey, for example, this is the first 18,000
miles - there is also a time limit!


  1. You can also try going through the
    Customer Arbitration Board.


  2. If all else fails, look through
    your Yellow Pages to find a lawyer *specializing* in lemon law
    problems. A good specialist lawyer will probably cheaply negotiate
    your way to a good settlement. If negotiation is not their first
    move, they are not the right lawyer. Negotiation yields better
    settlements than the courts, IMHO.


  3. West's Causes of Acction, Volume 11, contains tutorials and
    sample complaints for suing auto companies. Blashfield's Automobile
    Law contains information on car-related lawsuits. Nolo
    Press
    more information and publications.
Your chances of getting cash are slim. They will
probably buy back your car, giving you credit towards another instead
of cash. You will probably not get all of your money back (even as a
credit). Most states impose a penalty on each mile of use before the
first lemon-type complaint.


  1. If all else fails, or if there is an emergency or a serious
    issue which cannot be resolved through normal channels, call the
    state department of consumer affairs immediately. If they are
    unresponsive, or if the dealer has done something truly offensive,
    call the state Attorney General's Office. Do not be afraid to call
    your Congressman; many will help out to get your vote. If the State
    helps you to get justice, think about it during the next election -
    would you rather have "no big government interference with
    business" or "customer protection?"

<a name="whybad"></a>

Why are there so many bad dealers?

Blame it on greed, the worship of the dollar and small business,
our culture, the automotive world's culture, poor local small claims
courts (or policies that you cannot sue for damages in small claims
court), or on Chrysler.

Chrysler will not control its dealers because it thinks
it cannot control them. Either their contracts are truly badly
written or they really need confidence and competence. If their
contracts are badly written, shame on them for not admitting it and
making up bad new contracts for new dealers and renewals.

I have recently heard that Chrysler does try hard to work with
dealers when problems are reported. According to a dealer source, a
customer complaint launches a barrage of faxes and phone calls which
are invisible to the customer. Good dealers will take this as an
incentive to work with the customer. Bad ones may blame the customer
and become passive-aggressive.

Zone officials are often too lenient on bad dealers, but let's be
fair - they may not have all the power they need. Chrysler has been
slow to acknowledge the long-term damage done by bad dealers and to
put it over the short-term high volume these dealers often generate.

Whenever your dealer lies to you or is too incompetent, send a
letter to Dealer Agreements and to the Customer Center, Box
302, Centerline, MI 48015.

<a name="paint"></a>

<a name="survey"></a>Surveys

What happens when you send in a Chrysler customer satisfaction
survey? A sample dealer says:

Chrysler sends all the bad surveys back to the dealer so
he can (or is supposed to) get in contact with the customer and
attempt to correct the problem...it could have backlash at the
dealership but several bad surveys from the same customer would have
some damaging effects with the dealer though chrysler. They take
those very seriously.
The customer can call the 800 number and Chrysler
launches what is called a CAIR (basically a complaint.) At that point
the dealer has 24 hours to let Chrysler know what is being done with
the vehicle. I assure you Chrysler takes it very seriously (you best
prepare for a flood of faxes). I have been involved in caires from
other dealers and it is not pleasant for the dealer. ... I have seen
so much that shows me Chrysler really does care that I won't work for
another dealer. I think lots of the bad comes from dealers
stonewalling people and trying to stop it from getting over them.
A factory rep from an unspecified company reported that Chrysler
worked hard to improve its formerly-rather-poor surveys. They now
include important indicators, such as the number of times a repair
has been unsuccessfully attempted, and have been cross-validated
against other indicators. Note that not all customers are surveyed,
because of what they see as customer preference (based on focus
groups); only about half are, which means that you have a 50/50
chance of getting a survey when you have a repair done.

For more information: Chrysler surveys | Five Star program

Another point

"I have been a Chrysler tech for many years, their product is getting better. District managers are actually starting to get much
better in dealing with the public. More vehicles are being repaired
under warranty, that are well out of warranty. Our dealership
actually got in trouble for not doing enough good will work.

"As cars become more complex they also become harder to repair.
There are very few techs that can come in and repair these vehicles
correctly the first time, and that leads to customer complaints.
Customers need to allow auto techs enough time to properly do ther
problem. Too many times people need it NOW, and then complain that it
wasnt fixed properly. If a person is having a problem at a dealership
while getting ther car repaired, have them ask to talk to the person
who is actually working on there car. A talk with the right person
can go a long ways in customer satisfaction."

Chrysler dealers and car repair shop articles



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