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      05-27-2020, 01:42 PM   #1
The HACK
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A complete history of my vehicle ownership

I was originally going to post this under my Corvette Saga, but I figure I've diverged far enough from that topic that it deserves it's own thread.

I'm going to use this opportunity to share with you all my 30+ years of driving and car owning experience and break down each individual brands and my experience(s) with them. As some of you may well know, I'm a BMW fanboi in every sense of the word, and have owned more BMWs than any other brand. The following is a condensed history of "would buy/if the product is compelling/won't touch with a thousand foot pole."



Starting with BMWs. My experience(s) are mixed, despite owning a BMW in the garage somewhere since 1997 (and BMW E30 M3 being my boyhood car love). If there's a compelling BMW product, something akin to what they used to make between the late 70-mid 2000s, I would be there in a heart beat. And I don't mean anemic 4 cylinders with no creature comforts. I mean cars that are exceptionally engineered to offer the ultimate joy of driving. Cars that are above and beyond the BEST in their segment with no peers and competition. Not just the most powerful or the fastest car, because you can always BUY that elsewhere. Something unique to BMWs.

But my experience IS mixed. The dealership experience, of buying, servicing, and returning leases, have been exceptional. Including and up to the corporate experience (BMW NA), the financing experience (BMW FS), and the community has all be exceptional. The products? They've been generally trouble free, in and out of warranty, with a few exceptions. The E60 545i was by far the most comfortable and well rounded car we've had in the staple. But it was also the most troublesome, outside of warranty at one point it was costing us $4,000 a year to keep running, and frankly, at that point it was worth LESS than the cost to own. The 335D is another fantastic, out of this world "unique" experience, with the insane amount of torque and just outright Prius like highway mileage. But it's also plagued with a variety of emission issues, most of which are covered under warranty so far, but the bills, without warranty, would have been in excess of $8,000.

As of right now, the two BMW products I would consider are the M2 CS or the Supra, although neither of which are THAT compelling because I can spend my money elsewhere and get much better products for more $$$, or spend less and get equivalent performance and ownership experience.



Next up is Subaru. I've only ever owned one. And it's the one I let get away, for all the wrong reasons. Maybe that's why I miss it. I had a 2009 WRX wagon, and I used to tell people that was the most "BMW" car they make at the time. And I don't mean BMW as in rear wheel drive luxury sedan, but a car that differentiates itself from others. I would SERIOUSLY reconsider a WRX wagon if they ever make one again. Heck I would seriously consider a Subaru product if I have a need for that specific segment.

It's the ONE brand experience that I would consider on par with my BMW ownership. Maybe even a little better. I blew an AC condenser pulley at 38,xxx miles and a little over 3 years, well past the warranty period, and the dealership fixed the pulley for FREE. Other than that issue, the entire ownership experience was trouble free AND an absolute blast, because of the performance level afforded and the practicality it entails. It was just an amazing all around car that can get just about anywhere and still take me to and from the track and run circles around cars well above its pay grade with the right set of wheels. And the aftermarket support for it is amazing. You name it, any component, there's at least 2 dozen companies making wonderful products competing for your money at a very reasonable price.



And then there's Nissan. Oddly enough, I have to almost always remind myself that I've owned and driven Nissans most of my adult life. Or that a close family member had one. Between 2 Maximas, 1 Pathfinder, and 1 350Z, as well as active involvement with the community AND writing professionally for a short while for the industry, I'd have a lot more love for Nissan products. And out of ALL the brands I've owned and operated, it is by far the most reliable one ever. We have had, in the family, probably combined 40+ years experience of owning and driving Nissans, and really out of that 40+ years? 1 single dead alternator, 7 years into our first Maxima. That's it. Even the troublesome 350Z never had a mechanical issue. I had design gripes about it, but even with all my tinkering, intake, exhaust header, cat back, plenum, brakes, coil overs, every thing that I took off and re-installed MYSELF in my garage, nothing ever broke on the 350Z until I sold it to the next owner (and he put in a turbo kit himself and spun a bearing).

Oddly, Nissan just sits in that "friend" zone. I never loved it. Doesn't elicit emotion from me. It's the warm blanket feeling when I shop for it, the dealerships are never inviting, experiences never stood out, and frankly, every time I'm shopping for a new car, I would always look at Nissan, and just go "meh. XXX brand can do better." Yet we owned and operated multiple Nissans for nearly 40 years combined.

Acura...This should have been my go-to brand. My FIRST car that was titled under my name. 1990 Acura Integra. Acura/Honda should have been high up on my list, I could and probably SHOULD have been an Acura fanboi. And I was, up until someone rear ended my brother in my Integra in 97, and I was forced to look for a new car. And settled on a BMW Z3 1.9L (because, you know, Bond. I mean, c'mon). And the rest is history, and 20+ years later I still have ONLY BMWs in the garage.

Somewhere along the way, Acura/Honda sort of became bland just like the rest of them. I used to have a huge poster of my own hand sketched Acura NSX hung up on my wall like I'm proud of it, but then, every subsequent generation car from the Legend to the 3 lettered cars have just lost more and more appeal each time. And by the time I fell in love with BMWs again, they're basically driving appliances. Cars that gets you from point A to point B with as little soul and drama as possible.

If they revive the integra name plate? And put forth a compelling product? You know you NEVER forget your first car. And I certainly would go shop for one for my daughter who's a few years from earning her license.

Now comes brands that I probably would think twice about ever buying again. Like Hyundai/Mobus/Kia.





I lump the three, actually, TWO brands together because they're all the same. Including Genesis. I used to defend them passionately, even though I didn't own one. My friend and I got tapped to work at a Hyundai launch event, back when the 2nd generation Santa Fe was introduced. And I was blown away. They shed their "sh*tty Econo boxes" image quickly and was producing viable products, and the Santa Fe we were demo'ing for the public was able to hold their own in feature, comfort, material, build, and performance in just about every category against competition, for less money, and longer warranty. Sure, at the time an X5 was probably a far superior vehicle, but if you want a good SUV that has some character, and is very utilitarian, and don't mind the stigma of driving a Hyundai, the Santa Fe was an exceptional value compared to the likes of garbage pumped out by the rest of the Asian and American manufacturers. And the Genesis Coupe and sedans were giving BMW and other established Asian luxury brands a run for their money. I mean, they were not quite there yet, but getting very close. At least, close enough to justify for me. So I bought a 2010 Hyundai Tucson, and we drove it EVERYWHERE. It was the mule the family needed at the time, and the first and ONLY SUV I ever owned. At the time, it was everything they promised. Good fuel economy, excellent versatility, enough sportiness all for a budget conscious, growing family.

So much so I bought a 2012 Hyundai Veloster Turbo. And that became my daily driver. And I even took it to multiple track events, and became the first FWD car I ever drove on track. Sure, I had to learn how to drive a slightly different style to combat the constant understeer, but once you figured out how, it's a HOOT to drive at 10/10th and then some. Back in 2012-2013 you can't convince me that Hyundai/Mobus/Kia isn't the greatest Asian brand in the world.

Then the Veloster Turbo developed a sever leak from the clutch and brake master cylinder. To the point that my driver's side carpet is soaked and I'd have to refill the brake fluid reservoir once every 2 weeks, otherwise the brake light comes on. I wasn't happy, but they fixed it and I was on my way. Until it leaked again about 8 months later.

I was still riding a Hyundai high at the time, and thought to myself, "thank god I have 'America's Best Warranty!' Imagine having to deal with this sh*t 5, 6 years down the ownership road amiright?"

Then my wife's Tucson blew a transmission cooler hose. A 50 cent rubber hose. But because front wheel drive and the transmission and engine being virtually integrated...a $1,200 fix. Again, riding high. America's Best Warranty should take care of this. Car's JUST had its 60,000 mile service at 59,xxx miles, and it's barely 2 weeks out of the 5 years. They should honor this, right? Bumper to bumper, right?

Nope. We ended up footing the bill, because it's 5 years, 60,000 miles bumper to bumper, WHICH EVER CAME FIRST. But wait, you say. Isn't it 10 years, 100,000 miles? Oh that's just for the powertrain. "Well, the engine/transmission is part of the powertrain, right?" Nope. Read the fine print. In fact, that's what Hyundai USA and the dealership both said. READ THE FINE PRINT. What they considered powertrain are: Engine internals, like pistons, crank, crank bearing, valve train. Anything ancillary outside of the main block, like any of the pulleys, cooling, hoses, emissions control units, etc, are not considered part of the powertrain. Neither is anything OUTSIDE of the main transmission housing. Only the valve body, torque converter, and anything inside the transmission is considered powertrain. Transmission cooler hose? Nope. Ancillary and NOT COVERED.

Needless to say, we dumped both the Veloster Turbo and the Tucson immediately. I got her a 335D, and I bought...

A Fiat 500e.



The 500e was interesting, in that it was the cheapest car I've ever owned. Not in the cheapest MSRP, but the cheapest operating cost. Between the Federal incentives, CA incentives, FCA's desperate attempt to make just enough to satisfy CA and Oregon and caring little for the actual sales volume, it means I spend around $100 a month to lease it and drive it daily. Before that it was costing me around $250 a month just for fuel on the Veloster Turbo. Shoot, I pay more than that to INSURE the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport that I haven't seen or touched in the last 3 months.

And I don't charge at home. I'd get to work, and plug into a 120V outlet exposed in the parking lot. By the time I'm done with work, 8-10 hours later, I'd have enough charge to get home and back to work with about 25 miles to spare. All in, with all the "consumables", I was spending less than $200 a month.

But FCA still made it on my sh*t list. The 500e was the ONLY other car to ever have left me stranded while driving. The other being, of course the Corvette. I was driving home from work one day in the carpool lane, at around 60 mph it just all of a sudden died. Zero forward propulsion. Car behind me almost rear ended me. I got lucky that there was a tow truck not too far behind, and he was able to hook me up and tow me off the freeway to avoid a messy traffic jam. And he didn't charge me a dime, just asked for a friendly shake and wished me good luck. And that wasn't the only issue I experienced in the 500e. Between the constant recalls (it was in at least 5 or 6 recall campaign during the 36 months lease) each requiring 2-3 days out of commission on a daily driver, and the 20-30% "charging errors" I'd get regularly that posed a potential problem of me getting home, towards the latter half of the ownership experience it was a 50/50 chance whether or not the car would "start" in the morning, charged or not. Then it took 3 weeks, just a handful of days shy of qualifying for Lemon Law (although, on a leased car...Who cares), towards the end of my lease, for them to swap out the wiring harness for the 12V accessories battery.

And the ONLY redeeming value of that dealership visit was the fact that I was granted a loaner Grand Caravan. I took full advantage of that. Took the family camping and to Vegas.

I crossed FCA off my shopping list, even though they HAVE compelling products. Far more compelling than BMWs at this point. Knowing that when you HAVE to service your FCA products, and not IF, that you'll likely have one of the worst car ownership experiences in your life has pretty much guaranteed that there will NEVER be a FCA product in my garage.

Again, no matter how compelling. I mean, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio...Or Giulia...Or the Jeep Gladiator...Or the JK/JL...Man, they have some really awesome products. But I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy.

My saga with GM has been well documented here and here, so I won't go into detail in this post. It's unfortunate, because I have friends that work for GM. And I have made friends while I worked for a company that supplied GM. And while these friends have been supportive during this period, I'm not one to leverage my friendship to get me up the totem pole. And like FCA, they have compelling products. They do.

But at this point, no matter how compelling they are, they will not get my business ever again.
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      05-27-2020, 03:13 PM   #2
JamesNoBrakes
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Just a note, that year of the "WRX" was actually the imported Impreza GT. Marketed as a "WRX" here in the US, but not quite the same. Fixed with the "widebody" WRX and subsequent versions.

Subaru woefully neglects the technology on these cars though, anything they do is always too late and too little these days unfortunately. Magic was lost after the 2007 IMO.
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      05-27-2020, 05:11 PM   #3
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Interesting read on the Hyundai warranty.

Id been considering a new Jeep jl though after reading your post.
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      05-27-2020, 06:31 PM   #4
The HACK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottSinger View Post
Id been considering a new Jeep jl though after reading your post.
You should NEVER let anything you read on the internet dissuade you from doing anything you want to do.

My story is but a small reference point in a sea of anecdotal evidence. Although, one other friend of mine that has a FCA product...A Grand Caravan, HIS car was lemoned. So take that for what it's worth. His experience mirrors mine.

If my FCA experience wasn't so bad, or if I didn't have it, then yeah, the new JL is high on the list of cars I would seriously consider because, well, it's so gawd damn cool.
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      05-27-2020, 10:40 PM   #5
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Always interesting to see what people buy. I have owned exactly 4.5 vehicles in my 35+ years of driving.

'85 Toyota 2wd Pickup bought new when I finished college. Great little truck, problem free (replaced the clutch and transmission though at ~100k), rusted like hell which they all did. Sold it in '96 for 20% of what I bought it for with ~125k miles on it.

'98 Toyota 4wd Pickup bought it new too. After driving it for 22 years I just sold it. Great truck, problem free though the shell I got for it was a POS. The back window leaked like hell. Body held up well with some rust starting a couple of years ago. Under carriage had lots of road salt rust. Sold it for ~12% of what I bought it for with 150k miles on it.

'14 BMW X1 bought that new too. Been a fine buggy, wife drives it. Problem free so far with the exception of the heads up display that works intermittently (BMW after market). Perhaps the biggest disappointment, the resale value sucks, only worth barely 1/3 of the price we paid for it. Told the wife not to get into a wreck.

'15 Toyota Land Cruiser just picked it up. My first used vehicle. Just about to put the second tank of gas into it.

'97 Subaru Legacy Wagon - wife had it before we got married (thus the 1/2). Okay vehicle. IMHO Subarus are good for 100k miles then it is time to sell them as after that they seem to be problematic. Sold it in '13 for about 10% of what it was bought for with 120k miles on it.
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      05-27-2020, 11:27 PM   #6
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Honestly it sounds like you are being taken for a ride with several dealerships, including the Chevy one. There is a point at which you stop engaging in phone and person to person communication and you send it through the mail, registered return receipt, so you have a record that they received said complaint and you ask for responses in writing. I think several times, you could have gotten legal involved, which may have ended up more expensive, but an average citizen can do 95% of what legal would do and usually get to a positive outcome. Since the warranty clearly says what is excluded and your hose is not in the list, I would have made them repair it and suck up the cost, but I wouldn't have asked for corporate to get involved or created a "ticket", I would have gathered the facts, summarized the case, provided evidence with attachments, served the dealership notice that you would like a written response on how they intend to correct the issue. If they just blow it off, they'll get creamed in small claims court. Any decent contract legal outfit will tell the dealer to settle. A less decent one will charge them a bunch of money and still lose. Of course, it hinges on being in the "right", but what you've had to go through with your Corvette is not acceptable and long before you reached this point, you should have been taking this other method. You treat it as an investigation after a certain point, you write statements summarizing your conversations with everyone, you go to written correspondence for most everything, and build a record. Take pictures to show the car is still at the dealer, not being fixed (corvette). Then, if you do have to end up going the legal route in the end, 95% of the legwork is already done. Unfortunate, but you have to protect yourself in this way when things go south.

I had to give the Chevy dealership (and the BMW one, and a glass installer) the "riot act", but they all shaped up pretty fast once documents started coming their way.

I really wish they taught sending letters like this in college...it's like some kind of secret that lawyers don't want people to know (because they'd have a lot less business?).

At the best, the warranty manual wants "it both ways" at the same time, which probably won't stand up in a court of law. You can't limit the warranty to just those "hard" items and then say that what is "not covered" is what's in the "not covered list", because that OBVIOUSLY leaves out a whole bunch of stuff. A hose isn't intended to blow out or be a wear item, or at least if they start playing games like that, you get them to put it in writing. Again, once you have them putting it in writing, you can take it to a lawyer. If they refuse to put it in writing, you document that they are refusing, hell, send them a notice that you acknowledge they are refusing (see certified return receipt above), and again, seek out a lawyer. You'll probably have a good case against a bullshit "warranty".
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