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CAR COMPLAINT

Two years ago my daughter purchased a so-called automobile manufactured in Korea for a sum in excess of $10,000. In two years the value deteriorated to $2,500. She still owed the bank $7,000.

The car was junk. Everything was falling apart. She had to have the manual transmission rebuilt for a cost of $1,500.My daughter was forced to finance $6,000 to pay for the transmission repair and to dispose of the automobile.

She paid $231 per month on that car for two years. For the privilege of driving the so-called automobile, her cost was approximately $11,544. She could have purchased a real automobile for that. - W.B., Sandy.

Any number of people have been caught in a situation where their loan balance exceeded the value of their automobile at the time they sold it. And it's a situation no one likes to be in.

We called your daughter to clarify information in your letter. She said the car was a 1989 Sonata GL four-door sedan. Besides the transmission problem, she said the brackets that hold the seat belts had broken and she had to replace the battery. Several months ago the car started shaking when she drove it "highway speeds" and when she slowed down.

She traded in the car three or four months ago and bought a used car. The Hyundai had 56,000 miles on it.

She said she had to finance a loan for the used car she purchased plus the money she still owed on the Hyundai. "I'll be paying off that Hyundai for five more years," she told us.

We can't do anything about her situation because it's water under the bridge, as they say.

But we would like to tell our readers about two services that may help them decide what kind of new car to buy.

Each year the April issue of Consumer Reports is devoted to automobiles. Among other things it contains the results of a questionnaire the magazine sends out to subscribers asking them to rate their cars on frequency of repair. Items considered include air conditioner, body exterior paint, body exterior rust, body hardward, body integrity, brakes, clutch, drive line, electrical system (chassis), engine cooling, engine mechanical, exhaust system, fuel system and ignition system, transmission, steering/suspension.

The results of approximately 800,000 completed questionnaires are published in a frequency-of-repair chart in the April issue. The chart has a trouble index that categorizes the number of repairs made on the car as much better than average, better than average, average, worse than average, or much worse than average. The cost index - the average cost of repair and maintenance per year - has the same categories.

The April 1991 issue lists 1985-'90 models.

The 1989 Hyundai Sonata GL has a worse-than-average trouble index.

Consumer Reports' Used Car Price Service gives you the approximate value of a used car. Call 1-900-258-2886. The charge is $1.50 per minute. The average call takes five minutes.

A recording will ask you the model, year, mileage, major options, number of cylinders, automatic or manual transmission, general condition and your zip code. It will give you the approximate amount you would receive for the car in a private transaction and the approximate amount a dealer would give you as a trade-in.

By calling this service you can get an idea of what the resale value of a model you are thinking of buying has been in the past.