Sheila here, taking over Kerrian’s Notebook today to tell you what’s happening with my car. I know that Charlie has mentioned my knee surgery. Recovery is progressing, but one of the consequences of having the left knee worked on is that I can no longer drive a manual shift vehicle. Depressing the clutch requires too much force for me to drive safely and without pain.
It was officially time to get a new car. I’d been putting it off for a while, hoping that rehab would get the leg strong enough to allow me to keep my old, comfortable automobile. No such luck, so I shopped for an automatic and did my due diligence about the features that each brand offered. I took test drives at more than one dealership to check out the interior features and ease of handling. After careful consideration about all the mechanical stuff, I found one in the perfect color, and after negotiating a bit, took out a lease on it.
The first two weeks, those smiling all the time honeymoon weeks, gush about the car to everyone weeks, were wonderful. Charlie applauded my choice and was happy to see me out and about, driving to meetings and the garden center on my own. I’m forever grateful to a few people for helping out when Charlie couldn’t take me to the doctor or to rehab sessions.
Sad to say, honeymoons don’t last forever. On Day 15, the car wouldn’t start. The fob didn’t work. The engine would not turn over. The dashboard went black and each subsequent attempt resulted in a loud rapid clicking sound – a common indication that the battery is dead. After two weeks. A brand new, 2020 car.
I contacted the dealership and after talking me through an attempt to start the car with the original fob as well as the backup fob, the service rep suggested a tow truck. Luckily for me, the lease package included 24-hour roadside assistance, an important perk since we live an hour away from the dealer.
The car was jumpstarted with difficulty, then put on a flatbed to be taken back to the place I had leased the car. Mechanics in the service department ran diagnostics while I had a loaner – same brand, different model, and earlier year. I liked the radio in the loaner, but not much else.
After two days, the mechanics could not find anything wrong with my own car, but gave me a new battery in “good faith.” The car was delivered to my house on Wednesday morning, and the ‘new car envoy’ gave me the standard two-week post-purchase rundown, answering all the questions about how to manage the settings. What to safely turn off, what to leave on.
Basically, the car is run by a computer and the key fob allows you to interface with the computer.
The service department theory? While I worked in the gardens, and had the fob in my pocket on the key ring, every time I passed the car sitting in the garage, the fob (10-15 feet away from the driver’s side door) would tell the car to get ready, ‘cause “here she comes.” Well, no. I was gardening. Walking tools and seeds back and forth behind the car with the garage door open. But, the car was ready and stayed ready, and that ran down the battery.
Say, what? Okay, strange, but I now had to leave the fob inside anytime I was going to be near the car and not going to drive it. Inside the house, I had to store the two fobs in different rooms so as not to confuse them and cause them to both shut down. Plus, neither of the fobs could be hung inside the house within ten feet of the car in the garage.
The next day, Thursday, about 24 hours after the return of the car, I drove to the grocery, and then parked at the vitamin store. Because of the Covid19 concerns, we have curbside pickup on purchases we make at small shops. The owner delivered the bag to me and we chatted for a bit with the engine still off, and the car window open. Another customer drove up, so I waved goodbye and started the car. Ooops. Tried to start the car. It wouldn’t.
I eventually started it on my own by stepping in and out of the car, opening and closing the door, then pressing the ignition button. It should not have worked like rebooting a computer, but it did. I drove the car back to the dealership and left it there for a week, taking another loaner. They still could not find anything wrong with mine except for a dead radio amplifier, which they replaced. I’ve had it back for two weeks now, but really don’t trust the car.
Do I have a lemon? State law requires four visits to the dealership about the same issue during a two-year period. The dealership opened an official file with the manufacturer during the second visit, demonstrating recognition of a potential problem, should it occur again.
Each state has some form of new car Lemon Law that protects consumers from faulty new cars. There are six states that also have a Used Car Lemon Law – Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
The North Carolina Lemon Law
Also known as the New Motor Vehicles Warranties Act (N.C.G.S. 20-351), it applies to new passenger cars bought in North Carolina. It requires manufacturers to repair defects that affect the use, value, or safety of a new motor vehicle within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles (whichever comes first).
NC cars may be covered by the Lemon Law if all of the following have happened:
Read your warranty. Your State may have different qualifiers.
Your Rights under the Lemon Law
If the manufacturer hasn’t fixed your car after a reasonable number of attempts, in NC you are entitled to choose a comparable new replacement vehicle, or a refund. The law does not spell out what a comparable new replacement vehicle is, though it would most likely be an identical make and model.
Under the law, the refund is reduced by a “reasonable allowance” for your use of the vehicle and there is a formula that is followed to figure out the refund.
Many auto manufacturers have dispute resolution programs for customers with warranty problems. Some require you to use these programs before you go to court. Read your warranty for more information.
I chose a reputable car company, with great customer satisfaction ratings from thousands of owners, and a reliable dealership. Fingers crossed that I’ll get more than two weeks out of it this time.
It’s no secret that Sheila and I like to take a week here and there and see the sights around this great country of ours. This past Fall, we took the scenic route through the Great Smoky Mountains (part of the Appalachian range) to see the North Carolina cousins. I know, really long way around from the New York area, but the weather was great and it was a “why not?” kind of week.
The scenery was breathtaking and we pulled over lots of times to take pictures and soak it all in. When we finally left the Smokies, we stopped at a little spot called Minnie’s Diner in Jackson Creek, North Carolina. The parking lot was packed, but that’s usually a good sign, and we looked forward to mouth-watering, down-home cooking.
As we waited for the waitress to lead us to the only open booth, another couple came in behind us. She grabbed two menus from the counter for us, and spoke to the couple in typical small-town fashion. “Sheriff. Ava. Y’all doing okay?”
I glanced at the guy—long sleeve black shirt, rugby-type, tucked into black utility pants, a round patch on the shirt front reading Jackson County Sheriff. Below that, a bar with G. Ridge inscribed.
“Doing good,” he answered the waitress for both of them. “Looks like it’s standing room only today.”
“The wait shouldn’t be too long.”
The waitress turned to lead me and Sheila to the booth, but I stopped and turned toward the couple. The badge meant he was okay with me. “Want to join us?” They looked surprised, but agreed right away.
We all slid into the booth – Ridge and Ava sitting across from us – and introduced ourselves. Ava and Ridge lived in the next town.
I’ll let Ava Logan tell their story.
“So let me get this straight,” Charlie said, wagging a finger between Ridge and me. “You’re the sheriff, and you’re the publisher of the town newspaper?”
“Yes,” we both answered.
Charlie nodded and asked, “Does it ever cause a problem?”
“Not at all.” I must have answered too quickly because Ridge jerked his head around to glare at me. “Maybe. Sometimes,” I conceded.
While Ridge and Charlie talked shop, Sheila and I chatted about their trip through the mountains. Born and raised in western North Carolina, I love hearing others’ take on my part of the Appalachians. I smiled and declared that the scenic beauty is matched only by the people who called these hills and hollows home.
Although engaged in conversation with Sheila, I couldn’t help but overhear Charlie ask, “So how many residents are there in Jackson Creek?”
“4,327,” I answered. A hot blush crept up my cheeks as the Kerrians and Ridge looked at me like I always went around spouting random numbers. I mumbled a clarification, “Jackson Creek proper. I’m not sure about Jackson County.” Somewhere near the fifty-thousand range, but it was Ridge’s county. I thought he might want to answer.
The corner of Ridge’s mouth arched upward in a slight grin. He turned back to Charlie. “Fifty-three thousand. Jackson Creek is the county seat. I’m sure that’s a lot smaller than what you’re used to.”
Charlie answered with a smile, then turned to me. “Is there enough news in a town of four thousand to sustain a newspaper?”
“Oh, yeah. We do a lot of human interest features. And the occasional crime wave public service announcement.”
He and Sheila laughed. Ridge didn’t. He pressed his tongue to the inside of his cheek, a sign I knew all too well. We’d ridden this merry-go-round before. We rode it every day. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department wasn’t large enough to hire a media liaison so as Sheriff, Ridge filled that role. He was quick to feed me information when he needed to get the word out, and got especially tight-lipped when he didn’t want the press involved.
To be fair, Ridge was a good sheriff. And the fact that extracting information from him was like pulling the proverbial teeth, probably made him an even better one. It did make my job more difficult, though. And, sometimes caused me to do a little detecting in search of the facts behind the crimes.
“Don’t get me wrong,” I said, spitting the words out like I was in a hurry to defend him, or explain my earlier words. “We had a rash of car break-ins a few weeks ago and I was happy to put a warning out to residents. And we always have ginseng poaching that sometimes gets out-of-hand. And of course, the…occasional murder.”
I stared at the trail of condensation snaking its way down my water glass, remembering every detail of that recent murder, the scene stamped into my brain forever. The victim had been a good friend. It was hard to forget, no matter how many times I’d tried, when you were the one to find the body. I’d never in my life been more glad to have a conversation interrupted by a waitress delivering food.
“So, Charlie,” I said, diving into a chicken wrap. “How’d you like the Smokies?”
“Wait!” He and Sheila chimed in together. Charlie laughed, “You can’t leave us hanging like that! What poaching? What murder? Tell me no lies!”
“The poaching was a big deal around here!” I launched into my tale, but left out a few details about the danger we were all in, knowing that Ridge was still not happy about how that had played out. Charlie shook his head. “That’s a case we’d never get in the city.” The waitress delivered some warm apple pie and Charlie nudged, “Tell us about the murder. Don’t leave anything out.”
I glanced at Ridge, not at all sure he wanted to talk about that case. Yup, he was scowling. I quickly changed the subject and we continued our lunch over more pleasant conversation, laughter, and a promise to keep in touch. I had no doubt we would.
Lynn Chandler Willis created the newspaper owner Ava Logan character, based in no small part on her own experience in the news biz. “Tell Me No Lies,” the first in the series, will debut in February, 2017, and will explain all about the ginseng poaching as well as the murder, and Ava Logan’s part in both. 🙂
Take a look at www.lynnchandlerwillis.com for updates about the series and Ms. Willis’ other work.
Smokies, Ginseng, Footprint – Google
Lynn Chandler Willis, Blue Ridge Highway – Patti Phillips