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PROBE: March 1, 2002

March 01, 2002

QUESTION: Five weeks ago I bought a 1998 Contour from El Centro Motors. It has two years left on the warranty. It's been in the garage three times.

Right after I bought it I drove it to San Diego. On the way it felt like the steering was going out. It wobbled so badly I was afraid we were not going to get home.

I took it to the garage and they kept it 17 days. They realigned the wheels. The first time I drove it I knew it still had the same problem. I took it back and they said it had a bent wheel. They kept it three days and replaced the wheel. It still wobbled.

It's back in the garage again. There is a hum in the transmission and the brake light is on. Why can't they fix this car? — Car Owner, El Centro

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El Centro Motors Service Manager Terry Leiper said the garage replaced your C.V. valve and your wheel bearings. You took the car today and reported you still hear a noise.

He said he told you to bring the car back in for further investigation.

"I am going to monitor it," promised Leiper.

We know this is irritating but relax. We hope you're not expecting to implement the state lemon law. Your 3-year-old car is too old to qualify as a lemon, making you eligible for another car.

You're lucky. You still have warranty. As careful as you are, there's time to get the bugs out before your warranty expires.

Have the mechanic look at your brakes. A brake light can mean real trouble.

We're not much concerned with the transmission hum. If it's going out, it will do so while the car is still in warranty.

QUESTION: I live in the Park Motel on Adams Avenue. Monday morning the television cable went out. I had to go to work anyway and I expected it would be on when I got home.

My cable was still off Tuesday, although other motel tenants had cable. The manager told me to see the cable company, although cable comes with the rent. Adelphia said it has not provided cable to the Park Motel since April.

Since then I have been trying to get satellite service but no service will put up a dish for me unless the motel owners will give me written permission. So far I can't get the owner on the phone. I want cable! — No Television, El Centro

If you can, find another place to live. While we were trying to work out your cable problem, we learned water had been cut off at the motel.

That's the second low-income rental facility in El Centro to have utilities disconnected in a week. Last week the Imperial Irrigation District cut off the power at the Roberta Hotel because the hotel had not paid its bill for months, according to IID spokeswoman Sue Giller.

The residents were without electricity for four days and without water as well for two days.

Adelphia General Manager Tom Mixon said he will look into your cable situation. Although Adelphia's computer shows it does not serve the motel, your description of services indicates you're getting Adelphia channels.

DEFINING GRAFFITI — Whether the paintings on the Lewis Homes' wall facing Interstate 8 is art or graffiti depends on how one defines graffiti! So how do you define graffiti? — Minimalist, El Centro

The ordinance defines graffiti as "any inscription, word, figure, or design marked … scratched, etched …" on virtually any surface "without the written permission of the owner or the owner's representative."

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