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Have you ever bought a “Lemon”?

August 11, 2010

Snowdog brings up an interesting point, have you ever owned a new car that you considered a “Lemon”? Hopefully his issues will be addressed with a promised completely new replaced automatic transmission, or trading his vehicle for a new Chrysler vehicle at his selling Dealership.

Automobile Lemon Laws are State by State and are shown here> Auto Lemon Law Information For All 50 states and the District of Columbia

Many require several attempts to resolve plus the vehicle is out-of-service for more than 30 days.

Having owned many new vehicles over a lifetime plus working in the business as a Parts Manager for 10 years I have seen many defective produced automobiles. Yes saw one convertible that if you would lean on the left quarter panel, the driver’s door would open, one two door hardtop that if you drove it over a rough road (railroad tracks) the back rear glass would pop-out! Maybe this is why they are now glued in. Saw an expensive Chrysler wagon that had a hole in its top that had been covered-up with masking tape before receiving a factory paint job. Were these Lemons? Not in my book. Issues like plastic interior parts that would melt in the hot sun, or horns that would sound on Chrysler's with a built-in horn button in the steering wheel due to hot or cold conditions. The list goes on but almost everything was addressable by a good Dealers Service Department and by the Manufacture.

Nearly all the new vehicles we owned were fully equipped which increases the likely hood of issues over time. Having seen how expensive it is to maintain cars in the past, all vehicle have had Factory Extended Warranties that some say are a waste of money. For me it has always been a piece of mind issue that has always been a good investment. Sure sometimes you may just break-even on them and several times I have received a pro-rated refund when the vehicle is traded or totaled. I always expect to keep the vehicle a long time. Have I (we) ever owned a “Lemon”? I would say NO, since all issues big and small have been handled by the Dealerships (Ford & Chrysler) Service Department while supplying a free loaner car. I have never had to contact the Factory to get an issue solved. Sure the Dealer has, just like in Snowdog’s incident. This is why we continue to use the same Dealerships for service for the past 20 years!

1995 Eagle Vision TSI in Orchid was updated with spoiler and custom wheels and tires. Was a real Police Magnet for Wife receiving three speeding tickets!

However one does stand out as a possible “Lemon” if it had not been covered by an extended 100,000 mile or seven year warranty that may have cost about $1,500 at the time. It was a 1995 Eagle Vision TSI that was sold by Jeep Dealerships. For those that never saw one it was similar to a Dodge Intrepid R/T as an LH series (Chrysler Concord/New Yorker) and was discontinued in 1997. It was really a neat vehicle with a 3.5, 24 valve engine and fairly fast for a sedan at the time with zero to 60 in eight seconds. It was fully loaded and not cheap with a sticker of $25K.

Within the first two weeks I had to call the free road service Chrysler Hot Line when all four wheels locked up. When I called they asked “Are you in a safe place?” Sure it was about one-half block from our home in the center of the road. Wife was headed to work and had to walk back home and I gave her the keys to my Jeep and away she went. They had to bring out a flat-bed wrecker since it was not tow-able and was in the shop for more than two weeks for repairs. Over the next 100,000 miles the vehicle was just about completely rebuilt with Factory Warranty or our Extended Service Contract. It was not dependable and was towed in several times (charges covered) and many times required several weeks to repair, but we always were furnished a free loaner to drive by the Dealership. Some friends asked why you would keep such a problem vehicle. Our answer was this is why we have Warranty, and after a while it became funny.

It also had a transmission issue (Autostick) that was addressed by a TSB. At between 30/34 MPH it would shudder not going into either of two gears. The TSB instructed the transmission needed a small pressure release hole be drilled into the clutch drum to correct. The mechanic screwed it up so bad that they had to put a completely new transmission and converter into it and he quit. Countless covered repairs included replacing all four rotors, fuel pump in gas tank, A/C parts, four or five power antenna, steering parts, rack-and-pinion, struts, sway-bar and , and even the top-of-line CD radio! You name it and it went bad but no out-of-pocket charges to speak of. When we reached 100,000 mile I figured covered repairs totaled at least 10K! Sold this re-manufactured vehicle to my Brother and he drove it for three years never spending another dime for repairs. Hell it was a new car with 100,000 miles!

The likely hood of having a non-repairable car/truck these days is lessened due to the complete replacement of components, not attempting repairs as in the past. One member here that had a whine in the rear end of his Nitro received a complete rear-end housing without attempting repairs under warranty, as was commonplace several years ago.

What are your thoughts?

Have you ever bought a “Lemon”?
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