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CAR TROUBLES

On Nov. 2, we left our 1980 C-7 Jeep with the Jerry Seiner dealership in North Salt Lake for a state inspection and a bid on repairing the differential. The Jeep was in good running condition but we knew it needed rear-end work. We already had two bids on the rear end, $100 and $300.

On Nov. 7, we got back from a trip and called the dealership. We were told the repair work that the car needed to pass state inspection was over $300. To have the differential repaired would cost another $300 to $400. My husband told them not to do anything to the differential this time. The service adviser then told my husband that they had adjusted the rear-end bearings.My husband picked up our car and paid the $313.40 bill. When he was almost home he heard a noise in the rear end. He pulled into our driveway, looked under the Jeep and found the differential covered with oil. There was a puddle of oil on the driveway, too.

We called the dealership and asked "What in the ? did you do to our Jeep?" We had had no problems like this before. The service man told us to call for a tow. They would take care of everything and check it out.

My husband was out of town the next time I called the dealership. The service man said it looked like there was a lot of damage to the rear end. I told him not to do anything until my husband came back.

I called the dealership again, relaying a message from my husband. He said he drove the Jeep into the dealership in good running condition and felt the damage was caused by something the service department did. He wanted the Jeep in the same running condition as it was when we took it in.

The service man told me the Jeep was torn apart and it would cost us $1,000 to fix. I told the service man that we had not given permission to do anything to our Jeep.

I spoke to the service manager a few days later. He said the service department hadn't done anything to the differential the first time it was in except to add oil. I told him we had had the car serviced and gotten two other bids on the rear end and that neither one had told us the differential was out of oil. He told me anything that happened after we drove out of the lot was our fault.

The next day I called the mechanic who worked on the Jeep. He said he could put it back together but we might not make it home.

A few days later my husband called the mechanic. He wanted my husband to come in and see the damage. My husband told him he knew there was damage but that it had been done in the shop.

He asked the mechanic who gave him permission to tear into our Jeep? No work order was signed or permission given.

We suggested that we would pay the price of the other bids and the difference and the towing would be picked up by the dealership.

On Dec. 1, the mechanic said the bearing on the rear end was not working. I called on Dec. 4 and said we were taking the Jeep out of their shop. I called on Dec. 5 and was told they would release the Jeep for $64. I said I'd pay it and have the car towed out. The cashier couldn't find the invoice so I told her I was quoted $64. She told me they would not release the car if the bill was more. So I paid $70 and told her a tow truck would be there in the morning.

I called the next morning and was told we owed $30.87 more. I was real upset but we paid it and got our Jeep out of there.

We want the dealership to take full responsibility for not only the damage they have done to our Jeep but for the very poor and rude way they handled us as customers.

The bid to repair the damage is $800 to $1,000 plus towing, not to mention that our Jeep was at the dealership for over a month. - N.J., Layton.

The dealership says your Jeep, which had over 125,000 miles on it, needed several repairs in order to pass the state inspection. Your husband had also complained of a noise in the rear end. The dealership says the rear end was noisy and had several problems. There was no gear oil in the differential and the pinion flange, nut and bearings were loose.

Your husband did not want the rear end disassembled, which the dealership felt was necessary to properly diagnose the problem. The dealership says your husband did give it permission to tighten the pinion nut and fill with gear oil.

When the Jeep was towed back into the service department Nov. 18, the rear end needed to be disassembled to find out what the problem was. The side carrier bearings had turned to dust. The dealership says that could not have happened in 17 miles, the mileage the Jeep had been driven from the time your husband picked it up to the time it was brought back to the dealership.

The dealership asked your husband to come in and look at the rear end. He declined. You then had the vehicle towed out of the dealership.

The dealership feels the damage to the rear end should have been dealt with the first time your brought in the Jeep. It suggested that you have an experienced technician not affiliated with the dealership or you inspect the differential and determine the cause of failure.

It says it is still open to this remedy.