The Story Thus Far ...

I've written about my luck with cars ...

  • 02-21-2006 - Old reliable 1993 Escort dies with a bad throwout bearing.
  • 02-26-2006 - I succumb and buy a new 2005 Mazda3 5 door from Ricart Mazda instead of repairing the old Escort. I get a pretty good deal ($3,000 off sticker) in part because the car has had 'minor repairs' to the right rear. I'm told that one of the dealer flunkies 'backed it into something in the car wash or something'. I inspect the RR quarter panel quickly and find no real evidence of repair.
  • 07-22-2006 - (Approximate date) While washing the 3, notice some defects in the repair done by the dealer:
    • The rear bumper is deformed.
    • The rear aero flares don't fit well.
    • The rear license plate is crooked.
    • There are small, clear stone shields missing from the right rocker panel between the rear door and the rear wheel.
    • There's a small crack in the paint where the body had been repaired.
    That crack is especially troublesome as it indicates poorly applied body filler.
  • 08-01-2006 - The 3 goes into the shop for it's first service, a simple oil change and tire rotation. While it's in, I have them check on those issues with the repairs done before I bought it. Enterprise gives me a rental at Mazda's expense. The Focus they had arranged has a screw in the tire, so I get a little runt of a Chevy Aveo.
  • 08-05-2006 - Supposed to pick up the car, but the service rep calls and says she doesn't like how the stone shields fit. She's sending it back to be corrected, I drive the runt for the weekend.
  • 08-09-2006 - Supposed to pick the car up, but the service rep calls and says she doesn't like how the aero flares fit. They're ordering new ones. I keep driving the runt. It makes my butt numb if I drive it for more than about 25 minutes at a time.
  • 08-11-2006 - (Approximate date) Supposed to pick up the car, but the service rep calls and says she still doesn't like how the stone shields fit. Body shop can't peel them off and re-paint the rocker extension again, so they order a new one. After 17 days, I've had enough of the Aveo and ask for a different car. Enterprise puts me in an Impala. Big car. Big, big floaty car. I almost prefer the Aveo. Lots of power though.
  • 08-17-2006 - Try to pick the car up. They've replaced the rear bumper, the rear aero flares, the right rocker extension, the stone shields and reworked the rear quarter panel between the RR door and the RR wheel. It's a beautiful sunny afternoon which is perfect for highlighting the obvious mismatch in the silver paint. Plain as day, a nice diagonal line. Not acceptable, I refuse the car and get back in the Impala.
  • 08-20-2006 - (Approximate date) Some young punk vandalizes the Impala in my driveway, stealing the Chevy badge off the trunk lid. Ultimately the dealer agrees to fix it for me before turning it in to Enterprise.
  • 08-24-2006 - I finally get the car back. Paint match is good, but I point out to the body shop manager that the new, replacement bumper seems to have a different wrinkle in it. He indicates that he noticed it too, but compared it with another and it had the same look. It does look almost intentional. I want my car back, so I take it and go my way. (Later, I learn that the bumper he compared it to was the damaged one that came off my car!)

    Incidentally, while I'm here, the body shop receptionist says 'Oh, I remember this car. They damaged it getting it off the truck.' So much for that flunky and the car wash story.

  • 09-27-2006 - Not convinced that this bumper is right, throughout September, I look for Mazda3 5 doors to see if the bumpers match my own. They do not. I call the dealer and email pictures of the subtile defect. They can't see it. I offer to take it in to compare to others on the lot, they repeatedly refuse, insisting on waiting until the Mazda rep. is available. Finally, on the 27th, I meet both him and the service manager. We look at my car and pull a bumper from the parts department. The verdict? "Put this on his car." he says after very little inspection. Argh.

  • 10-02-2006 - The car goes in for bumper #2. They call Enterprise for my rental and they have no idea I was coming. They have no cars, only a Chevy Venture minivan and an Explorer. I take the Explorer. Big, awful truck. It manages to be enormous on the outside and small on the inside.

  • 10-04-2006 - I pick up my car. Paint matches, bumper is right. Finally, all is good - or so I think. Some time later I notice that those stupid aero flares got put on wrong again, one hangs over the edge of the bumper by almost 1/4".

    Later yet, I notice that the door to window seals on both right doors don't seem to touch the glass. They certainly don't match the left side. This is confirmed in January with our first snow as snow gets between the glass and the rubber on the right doors, but not the left. That's odd, though, as it was the right rear that was repaired ...

  • 02-19-2007 - It's time to have the second oil change and tire rotation and to have those door seals and aero flares looked at. I waited to avoid making several trips to the dealer. I take it to a different dealer, rightfully fed up with Ricart. This dealer orders replacement door seals and aero flares.

  • 02-26-2007 - Happy first birthday Mazda3, it's into the dealer for more new body parts. The door seals and aero flares are in. I get a rental this time, a Corolla. Yawn. In and out the same day, but the new flare (they only replaced the right one) is curled up at the corner. They say it will straighten out when the weather warms. I'm dubious. More significant is the fact that the new door seals are no better - no different actually - than the old ones. Frustrated, I ask for the service manager (who is out) to call me. I never get that call and finally call him on March 2nd. He apologizes and says to bring it in Monday and he'll look at it.

  • 03-05-2007 - Back to the dealer again. I explain the previous repair at Ricart and I show him how the right doors are different than the left. The seals don't fit well, they're wavy and don't touch the glass. They stick up above the inner panel where the left side is flush. He agrees and says he'll take it to the body shop to check it out. I get another rental, this time an '07 Mazda6. I'm the very first to drive it. The best rental I've had.

    He calls back later in the day. The diagnosis? Both door skins have been previously replaced and put on improperly. (So much for 'minor repairs' to the 'right rear'.) The only fix is to replace the skins again. Unfortunately this is not something that Mazda will authorize under warranty, I need to go back to Ricart.

    When I pick up the car, he shows me what the body shop manager showed him. The gap between the front door and fender is inconsistent, the putty applied to the inside of the door where the skin meets the frame is sloppy and inconsistent and it's beginning to crack and of course there's the door seals (called swipes by Mazda). He say that these doors will eventually rust due to the poor repair.

    He puts it all in writing:

    Doors have had previous repairs and door panels do not line up properly causing door swipes to be loose on window. Looks like both pass door skins have been replaced and not aligned correctly causing window seals not to touch windows.

    Needs both door skins replaced.

That's where it stands today. I needed to get this entire saga documented so I can present it to Ricart. My plan is to go there and meet with the service manager and the Mazda rep. I want complete documentation as to how the car was damaged and what was repaired on the car before I bought it. I want Ricart to pay to have the car repaired at the shop of my choosing, including an inspection of other areas of repair and corrections there as well if neessary. I don't want their shop touching it again. They will put me in a rental car for as long as it takes. I want a Mazda5 van, because I think they're neat and I want to try one out.

Part of me says I ought to go after them harder. They deceived me as to how much damage the car had and how it happened. They've repeatedly been unable to fix it. Under Ohio lemon law, I think I have a pretty darn good case. It was in the shop for the same issue repeatedly and it remains unfixed and it was in the shop for nearly 30 days in the first year. Both are criteria for return. Beyond that, I have a case with the attorney general for fraud.

Ultimately, I like the car and just want it fixed. I bought it knowing it had been repaired. Now, I was told minor repair and it turns out that half the side of the car was replaced. I was told they had a top notch body shop but they have proven to be woefully incompetent. Had they been honest with me and had they repaired it properly, this wouldn't be an issue now. So, ultimately if I can get it repaired properly, I'll be happy. I don't want to be the miserable guy battling the big car dealer to get his car perfect. I just want it right so I can go on with life.

Now, if they give me trouble about making it right, I'll be getting an attorney on the phone.

Oh, and If I give you advice on what car I would by in your shoes, think long and hard about taking it. :-P

2 TrackBacks

Blog Hoonage from on March 25, 2007 4:57 PM

So, I was reading the comments here at and the veered off course into web site stats. Realizing that it's been months since I checked mine, I took a look. I noticed a significant number of hits from the... Read More

I meant to do a wrap up on my tale of woe involving my Mazda3. Shortly after my post, I contacted a couple of lemon law attorneys about my situation. It turns out that the lemon law only applies to... Read More


Wow what a mess and good for you for keeping on them.

I hope you get it back soon.

Car question for you guys who are into them. VW check engine light comes on and no matter what they have done won't stay off. Any ideas?

Doug, I'd go for the lemon law option. My new van was in the shop five or six times to fix a check engine light coming on (Milly, I'll get to that in a minute). They eventually fixed it, but I'm convinced I'm getting poorer gas mileage than I should.

Milly, I had this on my Chrysler Town and Country minivan. It was a really small leak in the vacuum system, which runs through a series of tubes to just about every place on the car. There is no way to diagnose where the leak comes from, so they try to fix it by changing parts. It took five tries to get mine fixed.

What a horrible story. I know I urged you earlier not to pursue legal approaches, but that was when I thought the repairs were all cosmetic. These repairs sound structural and poorly performed. I would be concerned about numerous variables:
-the safety of the car in a collision, particularly for rear seat occupants since it sounds like the body and frame are no longer aligned. The 3 already gets sub-par side crash test results, and that's when it's in factory condition.
-the long term durability of repairs that seem to be so poorly performed and already deteriorating
-the effect of these repairs on your resale value.

The bottom line is it sounds like they intentionally deceived you. You should pursue either a lemon law replacement or threaten a lawsuit. You should document what the receptionist told you about the car having been damaged coming off the truck. It sounds like they dropped it. My understanding is that the lemon law actions are the cheapest for the consumer to pursue and generate the quickest response from the dealerships. Add up the number of days it's been in the shop (and project the number of days it will take to make the further repairs) and then go back to the dealership and state your intentions to file a Lemon claim if you've met the Ohio statute requirements. My objective would be to get a new '07 3 for free, paying only for the mileage I've put on mine since purchase (at whatever the going per mile rate is for their best lease deal).

Incidentally, you didn't really get a fabulous deal at $3000 off sticker. That's fairly standard pricing for Mazda or Ford employees (mine was $2000 off sticker since Purdue has an employee relationship with Ford--we train a lot of their engineers). I know for a fact that they still made money off my sale, so they didn't do too bad on yours. So I wouldn't use that perceived "great deal" as motivation to keep the car or feel like you didn't get off too badly.

Keep us updated.

I see three ways in which this meets the Ohio lemon law requirements:

1) It's already been in for 25 days by my count. Five more and you meet the 30 day requirement.

2) The dealer(s) have had three attempts already to fix the defects introduced by the damage, and the damage still exists.

3) You could make a cogent argument that incorrect repair of the door frame places the occupants at increased risk of "death or serious injury" in the event of a crash. In this scenario, the Ohio lemon law says that one failed repair attempt automatically qualifies for lemon replacement. I don't see any way they can guarantee you that the structural integrity of the door cage hasn't been compromised. This seems to be the strongest card in your deck in my opinion.

Oh, and my further reading indicates that you're eligible for refund of the entire purchase price, with no payback of mileage:

Thanks for the comments. One of the reasons I made this list was to get all this in front of me in one place. It's easy to forget all that I've been through on this. The more I think about it, a lemon law claim may be in order. It just sounds painful.

'doc - Good points on the safety of those doors, I hadn't considered that. As far as the deal that I got, I based that on what Edmund's reports that folks are paying in my area. At the time, they were reporting folks getting about $1,500 of sticker. Now they're only reporting about $500 off. Double the normal discount seemed pretty good. Of course now, $1,500 doesn't seem so good in light of what I received.

For the record, the car was in the shop for 28 days in the first year. In hindsight, I shouldn't have waited for the convenient regular service times to have this addressed. It would surely be over 30 days in the first year then. However, of the 4 criteria listed in that lemon law PDF, it clearly meets 2 (unresolved issue, number of issues exceeds 8), arguably meets a third (compromised safety) and nearly meets the fourth (the 30 day rule). It only needs to meet one.

If I go the lemon law route, I suspect that they will agree to a 'good will' buyback so as to not have the car tagged as a lemon.

Interesting note:

According to Edmund's, my car in 'Outstanding' condition (which, aside from the issues above, it is) is worth $14,077 to a private party. Drop that to 'average' ("May have a few mechanical and/or cosmetic problems and may require a considerable amount of reconditioning.") and it's $11,747 - a $2,300 differnce. Label it as 'rough' (Several mechanical and/or cosmetic problems requiring significant repairs.) and it's only $10,411, a loss of $3,600.

One other note. I bought this at this dealer through a friend who works there. He had nothing to do with these shenanigans, but it's even worse that you would do this to an employee's friend.

The 30 days doesn't have to all be in the first year--just the first attempt:

"You are covered by this law even if the problem was discovered late in the protection period, which is one year from the purchase date or 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first or if the repair attempts extend beyond that period."

(from the pdf I reference below).

Time to send a certified letter, eh?

Kelly Blue Book reports it as worth $17,225 if 'Excelent'. They allow you to pick what's wrong with it (major body work, etc). Answering honestly based on what I now know puts the car in the 'Fair' category, worth only $14,970. Again, a loss of about $2,300.

Man that STINKS! Hope you get it rectified.

Just to make your life more interesting (and difficult): don't you think you should force the dealership to mark the title of the car as a lemon (ie, don't agree to a goodwill buyout), so the next owner doesn't get misled too?

I'm not saying you have a moral obligation to do this; I'm asking whether or not you think you have a moral obligation toward the next owner. I thought about this alot with my Odyssey disaster, and the only way I could sleep at night was to have it inspected by the best body shop in town, get a written report, and give it to the prospective buyer.

Thanks I'll pass it on to her.

Wait, hold on. You KNOW that the car has been damaged before you buy it, you are given a very substantial discount because of this and you STILL are complaining when they fix it? Hey, good on ya, if you can work the system more power to you, but seems to me you'd have had a heap less trouble if you'd just forked out the extra 3k in the beginning, tightarse...

Oh, and who exactly gets rid of a vehicle cause the throwout bearing (I am assuming in the gearbox) goes? That's less than a day's work at a mechanics if you cant do it yourself...


Doug was led to believe by the dealer that the car had minor, cosmetic damage. This was a boldface lie, as he now knows it was seriously damaged, resulting in significant repairs beyond simple scratch and dents. He has every right to be angry and demand a refund. And he's not complaining that they FIXED it, he's complaining that they DIDN'T fix it. Read the post before launching off into a mean spirited comment.

Virusdoc's right (Thanks for the support, BTW), I'm not upset that it was damaged. As you (4130warrior) said, I knew that. I'm ultimately upset that it wasn't repaired properly. Ideally I would have liked them to have told me everything and fixed it properly, but even the misleading information wouldn't have been so bad had the repairs been done right. What I thought I had bought was a damaged car that had been completely repaired. What I got was a seriously damaged car that had been shoddily repaired. Oh, and considering the damage, the discount wasn't all that substantial.

On the throwout bearing, it's not a simple fix. The transmission has to come out of the car. Very few folks can do that one themselves and many who can, wouldn't. It's a full weekend of work for a DIY guy, I have done it before. At a mechanic it'd likely be $500 or more on a car worth maybe $1,000. Parts alone are $100-$200. Additionally, the car had 180,000 + miles on it and was generally rusty and worn out.

Oh, and on your question, virusdoc, on forcing them to mark it as a lemon, that's an interesting one. I'm thinking that I loose some bargaining power if I push it that far, but then again the law spells out exactly what they'd owe me. To flip it around, however, if I'm OK with them selling it to someone else as a used car, why am I not OK with me keeping it? (assuming it's properly repaired.) It's a good moral question. If I had bought a used car, my initial intention, adn had discovered this, I'd have to learn to live with it. It's sort of where my original plan of demanding a proper repair by an outside shop came from. I did agree to buy a repaired car, having it properly repaired ought to be just fine.

With a pretty certain lemon law case in my back pocket, it seems like this may be more likely to be accepted. Then again, they may find it less expensive to replace the car than repair this one.

Man that's frustrating. I'd call them on their lie at least and I think virusdoc has a good point about the lemon thing.

That sounds painful. Sorry to hear it.

To add insult to injury, the punks are back in my neighborhood and they stripped the badge off of the Mazda this week. Thankfully there's minimal paint damage.

Maybe the car's cursed.

Or maybe I'm cursed.

Nope, your not cursed despite what you've been told! :)

Being vandalized hurts more than just the loss of stuff. It's the loss of inosense too.

Forget the lemon law. This is fraud, a different category with much larger damages and potentially a criminal case. Unless you signed something when you bought it saying you were aware that the car was damaged and that the repairs were sufficient, they're in a very bad position. Dealers have had to pay large settlements for things like this.

You should be able to easily get them to buy the car back.

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  • Forget the lemon law. This is fraud, a different category with much larger damages and potentially a criminal case. Unless you signed something when you bought it saying you were aware that the car was damaged and that t...

  • Nope, your not cursed despite what you've been told! :) Being vandalized hurts more than just the loss of stuff. It's the loss of inosense too....

  • To add insult to injury, the punks are back in my neighborhood and they stripped the badge off of the Mazda this week. Thankfully there's minimal paint damage. Maybe the car's cursed. Or maybe I'm cursed....

  • That sounds painful. Sorry to hear it....

  • Man that's frustrating. I'd call them on their lie at least and I think virusdoc has a good point about the lemon thing. ...