Published: 00:01, 15 December 2014
A grandmother given a new car for her silver wedding anniversary is refusing to collect it from the dealership after it developed a “dangerous” steering fault.
Sue Greenfield’s gift of a £20,000 Vauxhall Mokka from her husband for “putting up with him” has turned into a nightmare for the gran of three from Chatham.
The problems began when she found that the steering on the car starting locking.
As it is less than two years old and still under warranty, she has taken it to Hidsons in Rainham, where she bought it, to be fixed four times.
“I dread to think what could have happened. I could have bought her a present that could have killed her" - Husband Nick Greenfield
She took it in to the dealership in London Road last Thursday after the system failed four times in a day.
But a mechanic could not track down the fault, although they acknowledged its existence.
So Mrs Greenfield, 54, was told to drive around until it happens again, noting what speed she was travelling, the weather and road conditions at the time and any flashing warning signs.
As she drives extensively on busy main roads, including motorways, for her job as a racecourse supervisor across the south east, and often has her young grandchildren on board, she refused.
Hidsons has insisted it has handled the matter professionally and gone beyond the terms of the warranty.
But Mrs Greenfield, of Palmerston Road, said: “It is too dangerous. I’ve been driving 25 years and consider myself a good driver, but the thought terrified me. I would not feel safe knowing that steering could go any minute.”
KentOnline has heard the recording of the phone call she received in which a woman said that their mechanic had done “a full vehicle check for the day”.
She is then asked to pick it up and monitor any warning signs,
She said the mechanic had still not been able to “get to the root cause,” but the fault had been logged with the technical department.
She said: “What we need to do is go away to find out when it does it again and then we can go from there.”
Mrs Greenfield said: “I just could not believe what I was hearing and had to play it back again.”
“It’s not impossible that such issues are affected by battery voltage so Mrs Greenfield was asked to drive the car and to report any concerns with more detail as to their occurrence" - Hidsons
Nick Greenfield, a driver with Rochester cab firm Computer Cabs, said: “It [the car] was for 25 years of putting up with me.
“I dread to think what could have happened. I could have bought her a present that could have killed her.
“I am also losing money because I am having to drive my wife around rather than picking up fares.”
Several other drivers have reported similar problems with the steering system on the Mokka owners club website.
The couple have written to the BBC consumer programme Watchdog urging them to take up the issue.
Hidsons said: “Mrs Greenfield presented her car to us with a complaint that the power steering was going heavy at low speeds.
“A courtesy car was not requested.
“The car was tested and the reported fault was reproduced. As no fault codes were apparent we contacted Vauxhall technical for advice.
“It appears that such a condition has been experienced before and they suggested that the problem could be due to a loose connection and therefore a remedy would be to check and tighten everything associated with the power steering system.
“The fault was not apparent.
“We then road tested the car for 15 miles, mainly at slow speeds, and once again were unable to reproduce it.
“Our conclusion was that, in all probability, we had resolved the issue.
“A message was left on Mrs Greenfield’s answering machine to this effect.
“It’s not impossible that such issues are affected by battery voltage so Mrs Greenfield was asked to drive the car and to report any concerns with more detail as to their occurrence.
“We understand that Mrs Greenfield is not happy to drive the car as she feels that it is unsafe.
“The situation we experienced was at low speed and of a minor nature consistent with volt drop manoeuvring with electric power steering components.
“We gained agreement amicably with Mrs Greenfield to further extensively test her vehicle and the use of one our cars for a few days to establish beyond doubt that the driveability of the Mokka is consistent with the model.
“Also we will request a field visit from the manufacturer to confirm their opinion prior to releasing the vehicle.
“We take immense pride in our record of satisfied customers and our ability to resolve customer concerns.”
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