7 On Your Side: Auto part shortage leaves NY teacher stranded after car breaks down

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Saturday, July 16, 2022

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A New York City teacher learned a tough lesson in supply chain frustration after her car broke down last winter. Now, she's been waiting nearly five months for the fix.

The problem is that the replacement part has not been available, but if anyone can get this hard-working public school teacher rolling again, it's 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda.

It was last February when Valerie Mendoza's baby, her 2015 Ford Focus, started having problems -- so she drove it to her dealership for service.

"On the way there, the car broke down," she said.

The computer module that controls the transmission was toast, but the good news was that the service manager said he ordered the part to arrive in just a "few days," and it was covered under her warranty.

But weeks went by, and Mendoza got frustrations instead of a fix.

"After that, I didn't hear anything from them," she said. "Oftentimes when I would try to call, they'd ignore my phone calls."

Mendoza, a 7th grade public school teacher, had a lot on her plate. Besides working full time, she headed up the drama club and was finishing up her second Masters degree. She needed wheels to get from her Westchester home to school in the city.

She said the dealership didn't have loaner cars, and the parent company, Ford, would only offer reimbursement for a rental.

"So basically, I would have to pay out of pocket $35 a day to rent this car, and then they would reimburse me," she said. "Which I couldn't do with paying my car payment and also trying to save up to pay the car off."

She said she was forced to Uber it, paying for hundreds in rides.

"I've had to relocate to be closer to my job, because I didn't have a car," she said. "So it's just been incredibly stressful in every way, financially, everything else."

The problem is is that there are no more loaners, because loaners are used cars and there is a scarcity of inventory. Plus, most companies no longer have accounts with rental agencies.

But after we got in touch with the dealership, they agreed to buy Mendoza's car back.

They couldn't say when the module would be in, so they cut her two checks: One for the Ford and the other to cover her Uber rides.

"I could not have done it without you guys, honestly," she said. "I would still be waiting for my car. So I really appreciate it."

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