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Woman files claim saying treadmill test damaged car

May 12, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

A Hagerstown woman has filed a claim against the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program saying its treadmill tests damaged her daughter's car.

The Motor Vehicle Administration says the claim has not been resolved because its inspectors have not been allowed to examine the car.

Kathy Rhodes says the 1985 Dodge Lancer stopped dead shortly after failing a test at the VEIP station northwest of Hagerstown on March 20.

"We got as far as the Venice Inn and it just stopped moving," she said.

Once the car was off the road, Rhodes walked to a Sheetz gas station to buy transmission fluid after checking the reservoir and finding it was dry, she said.

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She put the fluid in the car and drove it to a mechanic on Antietam Drive. The car stopped running again and the fluid was pouring out of the car, she said.

Rhodes said her father had checked the fluid level the night before the test.

Rhodes said she believes the VEIP treadmill test caused the problem. Although she had the transmission replaced, she filed a written complaint on April 2. A field inspector took photographs but she has not received a response, she said.

Marta Technologies Inc. runs the VEIP program under a contract with the Motor Vehicle Administration. Russ Lindquist, regional operations manager at Marta, could not be reached for comment.

He referred calls to the MVA's customer and media relations office.

Rhodes' claim is unresolved because the MVA has not been able to get an independent evaluation, according to spokeswoman Caryn Coyle. She said Marta representatives have tried to examine the vehicle at the mechanic's shop three times.

Each time, they were denied access, according to Coyle.

Marta is responsible for any damage the company causes, she said. "Once in a while, they do something wrong," she said. But problems are rare, according to Coyle.

She said fewer than 300 damage claims are filed out of 2.5 million tests a year. Most are for minor problems such as scuffed tires, she said.

As a goodwill gesture, the MVA sometimes pays for repairs, according to Coyle.

"If it does look like we're at fault, we pay for them," she said.

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