Car Crap

I drive a $35,000 piece of crap. It’s a 2002 Chrysler Town and Country Limited minivan, and it’s crap. In the nearly six years I have owned this car, I have had major work done on the air conditioning, the transmission, and the body (from a minor accident). Now I have a huge rusted spot on my hood where the paint has completely peeled away. The paint is peeling badly in another spot on the hood. My car looks like it comes from the ‘hood. What’s more, the local Chrysler dealer is crap, and they have been crap since the first day I walked in there six years ago.

In late 2001, when I was pregnant with Moose it became apparent that my beloved, red Volvo 850 sedan would no longer be big enough to haul around three kids, three car seats, one stroller, one large diaper bag, and one giant husband. We had to suck it up and buy a larger car. As much as I wanted an SUV, WineGuy flatly refused, insisting, “They’re unsafe; they’re gas-guzzlers; they roll over.” No discussion, end of story. Damn! Our only choice was a minivan. Begrudgingly, I did my homework and found that the only van big enough to accomodate WineGuy (6’4″) and meet all our requirements was the Chrysler T&C. I decided that if I was condemned destined to drive that overblown Easter egg, I was buying the top-of-the-line model. I narrowed my color choices down to three and set off shopping.

This was November 2001, two short months after America’s greatest tragedy, and American business was suffering. I figured I should support the local economy and went into the local dealer. I told the salesman exactly which model I wanted, which colors I would accept, and that I was paying cash for the vehicle. Ca$h, as in, “Here is my checkbook. Sell me a car today.” The salesman looked around the lot and said they didn’t have the Limited model. I asked him to check his upcoming deliveries to see if they’d be getting any soon. Nope. I asked the salesman if he’d be willing to do a dealer trade to get the model I chose. Nope. Not interested. Huh? There I was, ready and waiting to drop thousands of dollars on a new car, and this dealer could not have been less interested in selling me a car. I was astounded. Screw him, I was going up to the dealer in the next town. I went to that dealer and was close to striking a deal with them. Thos fine people kept trying to sell me an extra package I didn’t need, and they tried to screw me on the trade-in. Buh-bye to them. Foolishly, I went back to my local dealer to see if they had received any more cars and to see if they were any more interested in selling me a vehicle. Nope. Nothing new. Not interested.

Incredulous at the utter lack of scruples and service, I turned to my computer. I used Costco’s auto-buying program and connected with a dealer in Fort Lauderdale. The FL salesman called me with a list of colors he had available in the model I wanted and invited me to come over to make a deal. I did. I got such a great price that Costco called me and asked how I negotiated it! I paid for the car, gave them my trade-in, and drove home. Easy. The FL dealer assured me that any Chrysler dealer would gladly service the car. When the car needed its first service, I took it to the local dealer. They couldn’t have been nastier. The wait was long. The service manager was a dope, and the receptionist was a witch (with a “b”). So, I told them the story of how I tried to buy a car from them but they weren’t interested in selling me a car. The service department couldn’t have cared less. And so it went. I would take my car in for service. The local dealer would get around to it, fix it, and charge me a fortune. Over the years, we reached an uneasy truce as service managers and receptionists came and stayed.

Which brings me to today. I arrived early for my 8:30 a.m. service appointment. There was only one service manager. The other guy was allegedly out sick. Fifteen minutes later, today’s service manager greets me and writes up my ticket. He asked me if I was going to wait for the car. I replied “no,” that I would have my husband’s car today. My radar went up when the service guy failed to ask me what time I’d like to pick it up.

“When can I have the car back,” I queried.

“Uh, maybe today, but it might be tomorrow. I’m not sure because we’re short-handed. Oh, and the dealership is closing next week.”

WHAT??? “What do you mean ‘the dealership is closing next week’?”

“The receptionist just told us that the dealership has been sold and that we’re closing next week. I don’t even know if I’ll have a job after this week.”

“OMG, that’s awful! What are we supposed to do for service now?”

“Take it to the local Dodge dealer.”

“Hell no. They’re a bunch of liars and thieves. I’ll sell the damn car before I’ll ever take another vehicle there.” [We had a horrible experience with WineGuy’s old car at the local Dodge dealer.]

At that point, WineGuy pulled up to drive me to his office so I could have his car for the day. I told him the story, and he shook his head. Fortunately, the service manager just called to give me the estimate and say my car will be ready at the end of the day. Another several hundred dollars, I’m sure. What I want to do is get rid of the damn van, take back the Volvo from WineGuy, and let him buy a new car. What will we do? Find a new mechanic.

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3 thoughts on “Car Crap

  1. The boys are bigger now. Can you get a new (different) vehicle that meets the family requirements (remembering that you no longer need to haul around strollers — but in a sedan three big boys across the back might make for entertaining rides)

  2. We never go to a dealer for service unless its something that absolutely can’t be done elsewhere. Having a good, trustworthy, won’t-rip–you-off mechanic is almost as important as having a good Dr. Our mechanics here are die-hard conservative Republicans……..DH always goes in and complains about the “GD tax-and-spend liberals” to make sure we keep getting great service 🙂

  3. I don’t like to drive so, to me, all cars are crap. Money pits, too. M and I have had some bad experiences with dealers and service too. Fortunately, we managed to find a good one this time around.

    I wish you lots of luck in finding a good, new mechanic. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a new car too.

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