Sunday, March 16, 2008

A New Car

We wanted to wait as long as possible after our PT Cruiser was paid off to buy a new car. Our plan was to trade in my old '93 Geo Tracker for a new minivan. Well, sometimes the best laid know.

Last week I heard a rattling from under the hood of the PT Cruiser, so I took it in to get repaired. I expected a $1000 estimate. It's always $1000. I had the best protection/warranty known to the human race, and the bill always came back $1000. Bumper-to-bumper, everything covered? Great, that will be $1000. Powertrain 100% covered? No problem, that will be $1000. Oh, you have a 10% off coupon from the phone book? $1000.

This time they tricked me! No coverage at all now that your car is paid off? Yeah, we're going to need $4,100. They ticked off a laundry list: Struts, blushings (that had been replaced once already at 52,000 miles), Clutch plate, A/C compressor, new tires (not even a year old, mind you, but the front end alignment we just did? Wasn't right.) They were telling me that the parts alone were going to be $2000, and the squealing belts they didn't fix correctly the last time I took it in? Yeah, that's because of this new problem that apparently was undetectable when they addressed the problem a year ago. This part is hilarious; they blamed whoever installed the last set of struts for the bad work that was done. As I was cleaning the car out Friday night, I found the receipt. Guess who had done the work? Awww, you guessed!

One of the problems I had taken it in for last March was the radio. It was always cutting out when I turned the steering wheel. They ordered a new one and replaced it. As I was driving out of the parking lot, I turned the wheel and it cut out again! This time when I told them about the problem not being fixed the last time when it was still under warranty, they were "unable to reproduce customer complaint." That's funny because if you drive the car for more than 60 seconds and turn the wheel at any time, it will go out. I guess that's not a diagnostic that they perform.

So anyway, this was Gurley-Leep in Mishawaka, Indiana, the service department apparently owned by Scrooge McDuck, because they have a money bin with my money in it that you could swim in.

We took the car to a new dealership after some careful research about minivans and traded it in. So here's our new 2008 Chrysler Town and Country. The Honda Odyssey is the best minivan out there, but it's also $10,000 more, and that took it out of our price range. We have Stow 'n' Go seating, automatic side and rear doors, heated seats, adjustable pedals, all kinds of cool stuff. We got a good deal on it simply because the dealership in Elkhart where we bought it is phasing out its Chrysler products. They're being squeezed by Gurley-Leep, who now sells just about every brand of car in our area. Gurley-Leep just bought out the dealer next door to them.

I'm guessing most of the people who buy their cars take them elsewhere for service.

1 comment:

Martin said...

Jim, we just went test driving of vans today. We're planning to trade our Ford Explorer in. We looked at the Honda Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna and a Toyota Hybrid. Since it will be my car to drive, I needed to feel comfortable with that - which I was in all three. They all had plug in features for my iPod (a must for me). Most had built in Navigation systems. The vans had built in DVD players. Now my wife has to crunch the numbers and decide which will be our final purchase. Should have something new in two or three weeks.