Dash Cam Catches Dealer Employee Learning How to Drive Stick in Customer’s Ford Focus RS

You can almost smell the burning clutch through your screen.

byRob Stumpf| UPDATED May 7, 2019 1:18 PM
Dash Cam Catches Dealer Employee Learning How to Drive Stick in Customer’s Ford Focus RS

Nobody likes when their car is taken for a joyride without their permission, especially when it's in the trusted hands of a dealership. According to Jalopnik, that's exactly what happened when Karol Zwolinski brought his 3,000-mile Focus RS in for service at Hawk Ford of Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Zwolinski left the flagship hot hatch with the dealer after installing a dash cam, a move which would record some unfortunate abuse to the Focus. A video posted to YouTube by Zwolinski reveals that two people, allegedly both working as mechanics at the dealership, took the car out for a ride, but instead of just verifying functionality, they instead used the car as a lesson on how to operate a manual transmission.

The video itself is painful to watch: a bogged-down engine provides the dismal sound of strained clutch chatter (which the teacher attributes to the Focus RS' small engine), while the ding of a seatbelt warning chime attempts to lighten the mood. Through it all, you can almost smell the high-revving clutch slips delivered as feet incorrectly modulate pedal movement. The teacher even has the novice driver dump the clutch at 4,000 RPM several times before taking over the driver's seat.

But that's not all. The learner repeatedly revs the engine in neutral by mistake. At one point, the learner takes a rather hearty romp in first, bringing the car near the end of its rev range.

"Don't redline it. If you blow this car we both gonna have to pay for it." says the teacher during the video. "It's new so you don't gotta worry about it."

Zwolinski found the footage of his car being used as a learning tool on April 27. He presented the footage to the dealer who reportedly profusely apologized and promised to have a higher-up at the dealership review the video and reach out to Zwolinski directly. Unfortunately, no call was ever returned to the vehicle's owner. After a week of attempts to reach the dealer via phone and email, Zwolinski decided to post the video online and received an overwhelming amount of support from the online car community.

"This is very unprofessional and untrustworthy,"  Zwolinski told Jalopnik in a statement. "They assure you everything will be great and then do whatever they feel like with a $50,000 car that doesn’t even belong to them. If I didn’t have a dashcam I would have never known what really happened.”

The dealer's online presence is also taking a beating since the video was posted. Its Google Reviews alone have taken on a flurry of negative comments, beginning with one reviewer telling the dealership to replace the clutch in the car the mechanics "used for driving school".

While nothing will repair the trust between dealer and customer, the dash cam in the car will prove to be a great resource for the owner to plead his case for a replacement clutch. 

For everyone reading this, it's yet another opportunity to stress the importance of a dash cam.