Sykesville threatens to buy Chevys if Ford doesn't reimburse repair costs

January 25, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Sykesville may end its 10-year relationship with Ford Motor Co.

The automaker has rejected the town's request for reimbursement of its costs to replace engines last year in two Crown Victoria police package units. Ford said both cars are out of warranty.

The town is not taking rejection lightly and is giving Ford one last chance to make amends.

Councilman Michael Burgoyne has written a second letter to Ford detailing the frequency of maintenance on the two vehicles.

"With the documentation, we may have another chance for at least partial compensation," Mr. Burgoyne said at the council meeting Monday. "Ford is considering other complaints from its fleet customers."

The 1992 model was less than 700 miles over its 36,000-mile warranty when its engine had to be replaced in August at a cost of $5,000. Earlier last year, the town paid $2,500 for a new engine in a 1991 police car.

Mr. Burgoyne also wrote that the town has planned the purchase of several new vehicles in its five-year Capital Improvement Program.

"I guaranteed Ford that if this problem isn't addressed the new cars will be Chevys," he said.

He also said he would involve the Maryland Municipal League in the battle with Ford.

"The league has a buying power that is 100 times ours," he said.

Mayor Jonathan Herman said the town should pursue the complaint as far as possible.

"We pay extra for specific car packages and for engines that handle idling stress," the mayor said.

Police Chief Wallace Mitchell said his department has had few problems in the past with Ford and has always adhered to maintenance schedules.

"These are normally good engines," he said.

Mr. Burgoyne said he has forwarded all maintenance information to the company's fleet headquarters in Flint, Mich.

"If we prove that we take good care of our cars, there has to be an unknown component at work," he said. "We should be compensated."

Mr. Mitchell also said a new radar device will make speeding through town more detectable.

The Eagle dual band radar, the department's second piece of monitoring equipment, can be operated standing still or while moving.

"Now, two officers can monitor speed at different locations," the chief said.

Chief Mitchell said recent safety and enforcement awards helped the town win a $2,500 State Highway Administration grant, which he used to pay for the radar.

"Our efforts came back to us and helped us with the grant," Mr. Mitchell said. "We were not just holding our hand out and not doing anything to enforce the laws."

Next, the chief would like a large digital sign that would print out a vehicle's speed. It would deter arguments with officers.

"The sign would flash, 'Your speed is . . .' and that would be it," Mr. Mitchell said.

Until the sign arrives, speeders might not know the exact miles per hour. The chief assures motorists, "We will continue to make improvements in our coverage."

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