Let's play a game. I'll give you the facts and you see if you can diagnose my client's car. My client bought a brand new four-wheel-drive vehicle. He knew nothing about cars and probably never planned to take it off road like in the picture above. (The ones in traffic did not look as fun as this.) After a few weeks of city driving, he noticed a vibration. It was slight at first but it got worse. The vibration was present when he was moving, and got worse as the car sped up. He took it to the dealer.

A mechanic looked at it and quickly offered a diagnosis: a bad universal joint. He slapped in a new one and off my client went. The vibration was gone, at first. But then it came back. Again, it was slight at first but got worse. It took some time but pretty soon it was back and as bad as the first time. He took the car back to the dealer.

The mechanic looked at it and said he knew what the problem was: a bad u-joint. We do not know if this was the same u-joint as the other one or not, but one was replaced. The car was returned and the vibration was gone.


To save valuable internet space for things like cat videos and Facebook photos of lunch, I'll speed this story up. My client brought his vehicle in for service four times for the same vibration. Each time they replaced a u-joint. Each time the symptom disappeared for a few thousand miles and then returned. Each time they did the repairs under warranty and they never accused my client of doing anything wrong. After the 4th replacement, the vibration returned and the client hired me to sue them under the Lemon Law.


And, since I know that many of you are now yelling at the screen that you know what the problem REALLY was, let's do it this way. We know the problem with my client's car was not the u-joints. What was it? Fill in the blanks:

THE _______________ WAS ______________.

For this exercise, the first blank is a noun, the second is an adjective. "THE Gonkulator WAS Frozen." [<-not a correct answer; simply an illustration of format.]


No prizes (Would I be allowed to do that?) but please, also chime in on what was really going on here besides the incompetent diagnosis. So, lead with the correct diagnosis and comment if you feel inspired. Enjoy.

Photo: "Rockcrawling" by Mtxchevy.

Steve Lehto has been practicing consumer protection and lemon law for 23 years in Michigan. He taught Consumer Protection at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law for ten years and wrote The Lemon Law Bible. He also wrote Chrysler's Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit's Coolest Creation and The Great American Jet Pack: The Quest for the Ultimate Individual Lift Device. Follow him on Twitter if you liked this post. Twitter: @stevelehto