Woman afraid to drive her own car wants problem solved

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Stephanie Jacobus calls it the death grip. She uses it every time she takes the wheel of her brand new Jeep Patriot.

Jacobus, a working mom in Independence, Missouri, said if she doesn't hang on tight to the steering wheel, the car will jerk violently when driving at highway speeds.

"I almost went into a concrete barrier," Jacobus said. "It scared me to death."

That's why Jacobus took her Jeep, purchased just a week earlier, back to the dealership where she bought it State Line Chrysler in Kansas City, Mo.

"The first time they did an adjustment on the front end," she said.

But it didn't make a difference. She's had it back three more times since and it still pulls hard to the right when she drives over 55 miles per hour.

"This is just not acceptable," said Jacobus, who asked the dealership to put her in another car that she would feel safe driving.

When she said State Line refused. She called Chyrsler's Corporate Headquarters for help.

But what Chrysler suggested to solve the problem, created a problem of its own.

"Their suggestion was that I not use the accelerator. It makes me really unpopular in traffic," Jacobus said.

Plus it led to an accident on 24 Highway. When her Jeep started to veer right she stepped off the accelerator and a Mustang, following too closely behind, slammed into her.

"I injured my head, knee, back and shoulder," Jacobus said.

That's when she called Overland Park Attorney John Loss for help.

"By the time Stephanie came to me she had been struggling with this on her own for three weeks," said Loss, pointing out that Jacobus is entitled to another car under Missouri's Lemon Law.

After Loss got involved, Chrysler hired a local engineer to examine Jacobus' car. After he drove it, the engineer told both Loss and Jacobus that he now understood what they were talking about, Loss said.

Not long after that  Jacobus got a call from State Line Chyrsler offering her a new vehicle, but when she showed up at the dealership with her attorney, the offer was rescinded, she said.

So what can Jacobus do?

Her options are limited. Like every car buyer, she signed an arbitration agreement. In fact, she signed three arbitration agreements, meaning any dispute would have to be settled by an arbitration judge, not a jury. That's a scenario that legal experts say almost always favors the car dealership.

"We are hoping to get it solved without taking it to the arbitration step," said Loss who encourage Jacobus to call Fox 4 Problem Solvers.

This was Problem Solvers first complaint about State Line Chrysler so we were hoping this problem would be easily resolved. It seemed to go well at first. General Manager Matt Butler told us he never wanted Jacobus to feel unsafe, but couldn't help her resolve the problem until he had clearly documented proof that her Jeep was having problems.

Plus he said he's no fan of attorneys and that's why the first offer of help to Jacobus disappeared once her attorney showed up. We pointed out that Jacobus felt forced to hire an attorney because she had been unable to solve the problem on her own with the dealership.

The good news is that State Line Chrysler has now put Jacobus behind the wheel of another brand new Jeep -- and this one doesn't pull to the right. She also now has the title to her car, which she received the week of June 14. That's something that should have been provided the day she signed the paperwork, but wasn't until an investigator with the Missouri Department of Revenue got involved.

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