I just want the dealership to fix my car!

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By Christopher Elliott

Robbyn Parker just wants his dealership to fix his car. But now the company is ignoring his plea for help.

Question

I had an oil pressure switch replaced on my 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe at Burdick Hyundai in Cicero, N.Y., recently. The next time I drove the car, the head gasket blew. The dealership had direct contact with the cooling system on the car, yet it denies any responsibility.

I’ve reached out to the Hyundai headquarters, but a representative said they didn’t need to remove certain parts to access the switch. Therefore, he said the dealership wasn’t liable to fix the car. However, when I showed him the invoice that said parts had been removed from the car to reach the switch, he no longer will return my calls or emails.

My car is still sitting at the dealership, untouched. I would like the car repaired to the condition it was before they mishandled the installation of the oil pressure switch. Can you help? — Robbyn Parker, Theresa, NY

Answer

I’m sorry about your car. A blown head gasket can lead to serious damage, and the repairs might cost more than the car is worth. Should the dealership be forced to fix your car? I’m not a mechanic and I haven’t had a chance to inspect your car. But one thing is for certain — you can’t park your damaged Hyundai Santa Fe at the dealership forever. You live almost 80 miles from the dealership. (RelatedMy BMW doesn’t work! Why won’t they fix it?)

To determine what happened, you would have to hire an independent mechanic to examine the vehicle. He or she would be able to give you a better idea of what happened and suggest next steps. But how can you do that when neither Hyundai nor the dealership will communicate with you? (Related: Help, my BMW dealership is holding my title hostage!)

By the way, we may never know the cause of the blown gasket. The dealership’s mechanics might have made an error, or it could have been something else. In a case like this, it’s probably better to focus on the resolution and Hyundai’s duty to provide great customer service. Playing the blame game with the dealership won’t get your car fixed. (Related: Hey, what’s this disposition fee from Hyundai?)

The Elliott Advocacy research team lists the names, numbers and email addresses of Hyundai’s customer service executives in our database. A brief, polite email to one of them might have re-opened the lines of communication. You already had a lengthy paper trail between you, Hyundai and the dealership. It wouldn’t have taken much to give the executives a little nudge. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

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The dealership can’t fix your car, but…

I reached out to the dealership on your behalf to see if it intended to fix your car. For a while, it looked as if you were speeding toward a resolution. The dealership issued you a loaner vehicle. But then you contacted me after the dealership was not able to successfully repair the blown gasket.

So I reached out to the dealership again to find out if it could find a way forward. At this point, Hyundai stepped in and authorized a “buyout” of your vehicle. The company offered you $6,500, the value of your entire claim.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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