Wednesday, January 27, 2010

U for Update (on the car situation)

The original story can be found here:  B for Breakdown, BFF, and Bail Money

The Saturn service guy called me yesterday afternoon; the later in the day it got, the more sure I was that the news I would receive would not be good. You’d think I’d have prepared myself for that, but I didn’t. I was really hopeful that they were going to tell me that my serpentine belt needed to be replaced, and a few hundred dollars later my car would be on the road again running like a champ.

Not so.

My transmission is shot. I believe the words the service guy used were, “Your transmission failed.” It was all I could do not to yell, “NO! YOUR transmission failed! Your stupid, crappy product failed. Instead of doing the right and honorable thing and recalling the cars with this particular transmission, your company had to be dragged into court for a class action lawsuit.” In the back of my mind, from the moment the car quit working, I just knew it was the transmission though. I knew it.

My car is only six years old and only has 57,000 miles on it. This should not have happened. The service guy knew that just as well as I did. The hits just kept on coming as he proceeded to tell me that my front links (whatever those are) also needed to be replaced.

Service guy went on to say that Saturn has money set aside to cover 50% of the transmission replacement. I was confused, because from what I’d read about the class action lawsuit, I should have been covered 100% for the repair. Well, it turns out that I’m lucky I’m even getting the 50%. You see, GM declared bankruptcy this past summer. GM owns Saturn, and as a result of the bankruptcy, all deals are off. Super! Really. This could not have happened at a better time! (Red is the new sarcasm font.)

My out of pocket charge for the 50%? $2,500 (Plus another $250 for those front links, but really, what’s another $250 at this point?!). You read that right; two thousand five hundred dollars. Oh, and I would later find out that that price is for a half refurbished transmission, not brand new, with a one year warranty. I nearly cried. I called Music Man to tell him the news, and we both agreed that we should call my stepdad (my favorite car expert) for advice. Because $2,500 is a decent down payment on a new (or newer used) car, it just might be best to cut our losses at this point. Music Man offered to make the call since I was busy at work, and it was easier for him to do since he was working from home.

In the mean time, I did a little research. Turns out that owners who’ve dealt with this issue and have had their transmissions replaced have not fared well. It would seem that the “new” transmission is even worse than the initial one. In the many, many consumer report complaints I read, no one’s “new” transmission made it much past the one year warranty. In fact, many owners have gone on to have their transmission replaced 2, 3, or 4 times. That is ridiculous!

Music Man called to tell me that my stepdad said that my car, as young as it is and with as low mileage as it has, should have many good years left in it. As such, if the transmission they were offering was new and had a decent warranty, we should replace it. He said he thought it had to be a refurbished transmission though, because he had called around to a bunch of places and he could not find it priced as low as the dealership was offering. Music Man called the dealership and was told that the transmission was in fact half refurbished and the warranty was only for one year. Un-freakin’-believable!!!

Music Man asked the dealership what they’d give us as trade in value for the car. Initially they said $1,000, because the car runs well but can’t go anywhere without a transmission. Music Man was somehow able to get them to go up to $3,500. That’s not so bad, and it’s definitely better than nothing. However, there was a catch. (There always is; isn’t there?!) That money could only be used towards a car available on their lot. We did a little checking on their website, and guess what’s available? Just guess…

The majority of the cars currently on the lot are Saturn Ions (Didn't see that coming, did ya?!) containing the very same worthless transmission as my current car. There is no way I’m getting into another Ion at this point. In fact, at this point, there’s no way I’m getting into another Saturn car. PERIOD! It’s a shame really. I used to love Saturn. They’ve treated me so well in the past, and I love that the cars are American made. This whole experience has left a sour taste in my mouth though.

The sales manager at the dealership told Music Man they are actually converting to a Volkswagen dealership. This was great news! When I’ve thought about getting a new car in the past, I’ve often thought about Volkswagen. Then, the not so great news: they will not have their new stock of Volkswagens for another six weeks.

I cannot go without a car for six weeks. As it stands, I had to hitch a ride to work with my mother-in-law this morning. I’m just “lucky” enough that she works a few blocks away from me. While I am grateful and appreciative of her willingness to transport me to and from work, I cannot handle that for more than a few days; let alone six weeks. It’s just. NOT. Happening.

I’m going to try to take the day off of work tomorrow to research new cars. Then, Music Man and I are going out Friday to look at some cars and to do some test drives. I hate that I’m being forced into buying a new car, because I typically like to really mull these things over and research the hell out of them. However, there’s just not time for that.

I have some ideas of what I want, what I’m willing to spend, and money available for a down payment, so it’s not as though I’m completely unprepared. I’m also not at all opposed to leasing a car; the payments are usually smaller, the car is covered under warranty for the duration of the lease, and since I totally under drive my cars, the mileage limits of a lease aren’t a worry for me. We’ll see how it all plays out.

What say you, dear reader? Do you love/hate your car? Why?

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  1. I have a Scion Tc maybe by toyota and I totally love it. I am a fan of toyota's though.

  2. I LOVE the sarcastic font! :)

    I wish you luck on your car search, I'm sure you will find something awesome.

    To answer your question...(aren't you glad you asked?!?)

    I hate my car.

    2001 Pontiac Grand Am ... 3 years ago the intake manifold ($2000) needed replacement. 6 months ago it happened again ($2000). Monday we both had horrible car days. Turns out now my head gaskets need replacing ($2100). I still owe on the car ($2500) and my credit isn't the greatest. I don't have $2100 to get it fixed and I know it's not even worth it because frankly I'm looking at getting this all done again in a few years, right?

    I figure my only option is to try and get approved for a car loan, conventional (through the credit union) loans won't work because they only finance 75% of the cars value. And I have no $ to put down.

    Because I think it's my last option, tonight I'm going to Carhop to see what I can qualify for, if they can take my car as a trade in, if they can roll what I owe into a new loan, if I should consider letting the bank just take my P.O.S. car (after I secure a different car of course) and generally what my options are. I'm not rushing into anything because quite frankly that's how I got where I am today. But I only have so long to decide, I can only keep filling up the coolant so long. (I hate the smell of it!)

    Stupid cars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Cars are so freakin' expensive to fix.

    I love my car. It's a 2010 Honda Insight, one of the hybrids.

    Before that I had a PT Cruiser that died on me :( It would have cost at least 5 grand to fix so we decided to just get me a new car.

  4. OMG - I can imagine you are frustrated. I would be seething mad! It's the money; it's the time; and it's the inconvenience. (I won't even go into the riding to work with the mother in law thing.) Whatever happened to being able to depend on something to be as good as what they said it would be? Makes me crazy. Hope next week is better for you. Thanks for stopping in and leaving me such a nice comment! I'm going to follow and see how it works out for you!


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