Monday, June 18, 2007

NEGATIVEly Affected

I know that very few people actually read this blog, but I'm going to do a participatory exercise anyway. It seems to me that this country has taken to dogging its automakers to the point that they don't even have any reasons anymore, they just do it out of habit. Personally, I'm a Chevy guy and have been very happy with all of the vehicles I have owned. My wife now has a Pontiac and is very happy with it.
Yes, I admit that there is a chance that we are in the minority, but we have had limited problems with our vehicles that are tied to anything other than our own stupidity. I want to know just how rare we are.

So here's the exercise: Please list the vehicles you have owned in the last 10 years. Briefly describe to me the situation (new, used, bought, leased, gramma drove it before I did, etc), and then tell me how it went. This exercise will take a few minutes, but please bare with me.

Hopefully for all of you American haters out there, you can prove me wrong and show me that American cars suck. More likely, I will show you how much you don't really know what you're bitching about.

I'll start off:
1990 Chevy S-10 pickup (Extended Cab, 4WD). Had a rust problem that stemmed from the plastic fender flares, but accepted every beating I gave it. Got me back and forth to Potsdam a couple dozen times and even beat a V-6 Mustang in a race down Western Ave in Albany. I sold it in 2001 with 120k miles on it for $400 (needed new front brakes at the time). I saw it two years later with some recent body work still putting around Potsdam. The AC was empty and I broke the lever that allowed me to have anything but hot air in the cabin, but those were both mostly my fault.

2002 Chevy Blazer (2-door, 4WD) Bought it brand new, actually ordered it from the factory. Had 3 miles on it. Within the warranty period, it had some issues with the distributor that needed to be fixed. The last of which was technically outside of the warranty period, but since it was related to the other issues they graciously fixed it at no cost to me. Since then, I had to have the 4 wheel drive module moved once because it was getting wet during heavy rains and causing some problems. Other than that, we've made a few dozen trips to Potsdam from Rochester and Albany together, and with the sub that my brother gave me as a college graduation present, it keeps me running all winter long. It's a great compromise between car and truck, but yeah, it might be nice to get a little better gas mileage. Just turned 80,000 miles.

1999 Chevy Camaro SS Convertible (2-door, RWD) This is the second best decision I ever made. Marrying Lisa is of course number 1, and going away to Clarkson is a close third. I bought Camy used, it had 27,500 miles on it when I bought it (yes another cute 7/25-related number) from a pansy down in CT. He was having a baby soon and they were no longer going to be able to afford the payments on the car on top of the kid and their overpriced townhouse by the very fishy-smelling water. I gladly took her off his hands and brought it to NY. This is another vehicle that I have given some abuse, mostly because it has a 320 hp V8 and I have a heavy right foot. I had to replace part of the liner to the convertible top because it was leaking into the trunk, but that way a couple hundred dollars and has been great ever since. I did have a creature make a nest in the engine compartment and had to replace some ignition wires, but that's hardly GMs fault. I made sure to keep it on the driveway this winter and put some traps out just in case. I've had some brake work done, but the way I drive, that's not surprising. Camy has about 55,000 miles on her now and is sitting out in the parking lot just waiting for me to fire her up again. I get about 23 miles to the gallon overall, close to 30 highway with the 6 speed manual. 6th gear cuts the rpms to about 1700 at 75 mph, but still leaves me with enough acceleration to get out of the way if I need it.

So there are my stories. Each vehicle has had it's little things, but certainly nothing worth crying home to mom about. The other point to mention, these vehicles have all been FUN TO DRIVE, which is a lot more than I can say for most imports that I have driven.

Thanks for listening, and I look forward to your stories.


JFK said...

alright Bill

JFK said...

haha well meant to sign in first before I started to comment but here goes my take on it. Now remember I've only been driving for 8 years, but I still got plenty of input I think.

My first wheels was a 1987 GMC suburban. 4WD, 350, auto, pretty loaded for its year. Deemed the General for years, it was a bit of a hand-me-down from dad, being the 2nd suburban we've had in our family (we had an 85 chevy that ended up with 300,000 miles on it before we got rid of it, why we did still eludes me to this day, the thing ran like a top) That truck was my bread and butter ever since I was 16 and sure I had my times of being a bit rough with it, but it handled it rather well. Now being an older model it of course had its gremlins and things went wrong, but whenever a major part needed to be replaced it bounced right back from it. Sure it was a bit of a gas hog, but that's because it's a TRUCK, that goddamn suv term was created after there were suburbans roaming the roads. I loved it because I got the milage that a pickup of the same engine and tranny would have got, but I had all the more room inside it. Plus I knew that since it's a domestic truck, I could get whatever parts I needed for it with little to no hassle at all.

Since all my entries are suburbans, I'll just throw out the difference in DT and engine and whatnot.

Number 2 is a 1990 GMC Sub, 2WD, 454, haluing transmission (sans overdrive) and 4.11 back gears. This guy is meant to haul our 7,000# camper, and it does a damn good job of it. Mainly dad's truck, I've still had my experience driving it. Has plenty of torque for hauling, but if you're not it's pretty overkill, especially the fact that it doesn't have kills the mileage and overall wear and tear on the big block engine. Still was a good dependable truck, still truckin.

The last one that I've been working on now is a 1989 Chevy Sub. 2WD, 350, overdrive, loaded like all the others. She was sitting in a garage for more than a year or two when I bought it for 750 beans, still has some work to be done on it yet, not quite running to full sing, but with a bit more invested it'll end up being a damn nice truck.

To be honest I believe my input for this is a bit biased, but from my standpoint, my dad always bled chevy and dammit so do I. Now as for a list of what he had over the years, let's see:

-1957 Bel Air 4 door hard top
-1970 Chevelle SS, 396, Cowl Induction, 4 speed, red with black stripes (mercy)
-1969 Chevelle SS, 396, 454 heads, 4.11 gears, long legs, 950 double pumper holley carb (I don't believe he was ever beaten with this car)
-1971 Monte Carlo (longest hood in chevy history)
-1979 C10 pickup, 454, 2wd, used to push-start super modifieds with it
-1979 Caprice, 305, 2-door, white, sport rear window. The car would have ended up being mine but after driving it to work for close to a decade in the NY winter, the frame rusted out too much to be safe anymore
-1985 Suburban, bringing us to where I left off.

Personally I never really thought about anything different, with most imports they're designed for short people to use them to bum about in an urban setting. I've always been comfortable in trucks and 2 door full size cars, so that's what I'm familiar with and what I will continue to drive.

Karyn said...

Not sure if you want to hear from a foreign-buying soccer mom in her minivan, but here goes.
Drove a 90-something Camry in HS that my mom bought from some guy cuz he won a new car or something. No idea the miles. Only thing ever wrong with it was that I drove it home with the e-brake still on and so it became mostly useless.
Bought my Kia Sportage in 00. Definitely worth the money. Only had to drive it out of a couple of ditches. Can't think of any problems other than the wipers kinda sucking. Sold it to my Dad last December and he is enjoying it immensely. He put in some cardboard for the winter to help make it toasty warm. Very low miles - maybe 40k. Really can't remember now.
Bought the Toyota Sienna in Dec 06 (06 model). Gets a mile or two better than my Kia did. Drives a bit better, but I was used to the non-car feel. Very handy options which are great when you have a kid who wants to climb in by himself, etc. Have only had it back in once so far for an oil change.
Sorry for buying all foreigns, but I read Consumer Reports and go by what I can get for the money. I want to retire early. Then I will spend my money on other American things like going to Disneyworld.

I don't remember enough details about my parents' cars, but they owned whatever came around- Suburban, Eagle, Nissan truck, Ford truck... no idea how many times each one was in for repairs, but none of them were new.

Sarah said...

Now here I am...the Honda lover :)

In my 10 years of driving I have had 2 cars. The first was a 1990 Honda Accord. My parents bought it new and drove it until my mom decided she wanted a new car and gave that to me. When they gave it to me it had 117,000...I drove it for 4 years and finally at 12 years old with 170,000 miles on it the clutch died. I decided at that point that I didnt want to put the money into fixing that and got rid of it. Some one at the shop that I left it with decided to fix it up and last I knew the car was still running around town by high school kids.

After that I bought myself a 1996 Honda Civic. That car is now 11 years old and in the 5 years I've had it I've had no issues with it at all. I still get 40 miles to the gallon on the highway and just over 30 when I'm driving around the city.

I love Honda. The End. :-)

MCO said...

These paragraphs do NOT match my style.

Several Chevy Pickups 1976-1984. Outerbody rust-through, shit gas mileage but overall, competent.

1982 Toyota pickup (back when all rice-burner trucks were small). bought it with 104K miles. Drove it into a deer and an "obstacle", still ran. Fun, sipped gas, sucked in any bad weather. Sold with 115K miles for $500.

1986 Dodge Caravelle. Dependable, boring as shit. Only redeeming quality is that half the cops thought I was with the FBI.

1992 Nissan Maxima. Fast, great handling. A fucking rocket. Sold it with 72K miles. No problems that weren't self-inflicted.

1997 Chevy Tahoe. With 1,500 miles, Tranny shat proverbial bed. Chevy did replace it. Rear seat release also went toes up. Biggest complaint: no way to drive it to get better than 15 mpg

1999 Pontiac Grand Prix. Fast off the line, fast into the grave after warranty expired. A/C died. After A/C was replaced, "new" A/C dripped water into the passenger footwell for a year. Pontiac refused to fix until the day I showed up with 2 inches of water. Heretofore, the car was referred to as "Lake Pontiac". One thousand miles after warranty expired, front driver window motor regulator died ($550). 3 months later passenger front died ($550). Three months later, rear passenger regulator died (would have been $450). After scores of hours on the phone with Dealer/Pontiac/GM North America, it was fixed "as a courtesy". three months later, driver rear window motor regulator died. After being accused of "using it too much" (by my recollection 50-60 times EVER), I raised enough Hell to get that one gratis too. When I asked about being reimbursed for the front two, there was a muffled laugh.

Now I have another Nissan. I'm happier than Michael Moore at the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet in Caracas.

Reward GM and Ford for their lack of innovation all you want. Until they stop being that kid that shows up for the All-Day Science Fair at 2pm with a half-assed ant farm, I ain't buyin'.

That Guy said...

Lack of innovation dude? Because GM is the only company seriously investing in fuel cells? How about a 650 hp supercar for under $100,000 (next Corvette, I would love it if they put the SS badge on it)? And how about the Suburban that saved the lives of you and half a dozen friends?
Ford has the "most fuel efficient SUV on the planet" (Escape Hybrid). Sure it's ugly, but ugly and fuel efficient sounds like the definition of Honda to me.
I'm sorry, but I get SO sick of people trashing American cars with no basis. Is iDrive really that innovative in that it's impossible to use? Is a crooked shift pattern innovative because it's annoying as hell to shift? I want PROOF of where this "innovation" is happening outside of our borders.

For the rest of you, I appreciate your input. For those of you who are non-american buyers, can you tell me more about why? Was there one car? Or one person? Or one event?

Carney said...

Have only owned one...2000 Dodge Dakota 4x4 w/extended cab, 4.7L V8. Bought it new with 13 miles on it, now has +144,400 miles. Most of the miles are at +55 mph. I drive a 130 mile round trip to work quite a few long (+1000 mile) trips.

I went with the Dakota because it had more room than the Ford Ranger and Chevy S-10. I looked at the Toyota Tacoma but it didn't do much for me. The Dakota had the newly desigend new 4.7L for that year and I thought it drove better.

A couple of months after I bought it a CAM sensor went bad and I had to have it towed to a dealership. The fuel pump started to go just shy of 75K miles. Both were covered under the factory warranty. The alternator had a couple diodes die but it still put out charge. I replaced it to be on the safe side. Not unexpected to have a couple parts fail early in their life. Nothing would be affordable if it was designed to be around for 250 years.

The continuing problems with the truck are the front alignment and breaks. I think the alignment has never quite been right so it causes the breaks to wear unevenly. My cousin said his Dodge Ram had the same problem. It is somewhat annoying because I have the front end aligned and breaks planed several times to no avail. I will pay closer attention to those nuisances when I'm looking at buying again.

As for the pros - the engine is a beast. Coupled with Dodge's 4-wheel drive I have been able to get though anything Mother Nature could throw down. That includes driving from DC to Albany during the St. Patrick's Day storm in March 07. It likes gas though, 20 Hwy / 17 city if you're easy on the accelerator. Still passes emissions with below average readings. It has plenty of room and the steering has a good feeling for the road (I drove a Chevy Uplander a couple weeks ago. Felt like I was driving a Cobalt. No wonder idiots flip those things all the time). I've hit a few things with it and they took more of a beating then I did, if the truck dented at all.

I will definitely be looking at another Dodge but gas mileage might be the deal breaker.

I travel a lot and end up driving quite a few rental cars - mostly American. I think the later models 2006 and up are some pretty good cars. American cars seem to suffer from a lack of "eye catching" design (both interior and exterior) IMHO but that is getting better too. Unfortuneately with the perception that American cars are lemons GM, Ford and Chrysler won't be able to match the other guys by catching up, they will have to out design them and then prove it to a disconcerning public.

Amy said...

First car I owed was a 1993 Chevy Corsica. It was a crap car (that's what you get when having something passed on from your mother). There were power locks, but they didn't work so I had the thing broken into once or twice. And after a while, the seal on the windshield s**t the everytime it rained, I sat in a puddle of water.

After that, I vowed to never get a used car again. And now, I have my second car.

Bought a 2004 Honda Civic in June 2004 (only had 5 miles on it driving away from the dealership). Ditto to what Sarah said....LOVE the Honda!!! In the 3 years of owning it, I have had little work done on it. The cable to open the gas tank door broke, but that was covered under the warranty. Other than that, I've replaced 2 tires and had my front brake pads replaced (outside of the regular oil changes and maintainance check-ups). And all that work (or lack thereof) with putting more than 80,000 miles on it in just 3 years.

Sarah said...

I'm sticking with Honda for many reasons...1) I've had 2 and they have lasted forever with no major issues what so ever. 2) My mom is on her 3rd Honda and has had no issues either. 3)The civics are smaller in size which I like for now and then in the future I can get an Accord if need be...and above all else...4) AMAZING gas mileage!!!

Whenever I get around to buying my next car it'll be the Civic Hybrid. I can't wait.

Karyn said...

I think I mentioned why already - the cost (value). From my and my family's experience and Consumer Reports research, I believe that foreign cars are just a better value right now. I had the opportunity to buy a Chevy at 'employee pricing' when I worked for IBM, but the Toyota Camry was still cheaper and got slightly better gas mileage. The Chevy did have a bigger engine or something, but that was not a top priority. I certainly can't debate innovation since I don't have access to every carmaker's research division, but I really couldn't care less about who comes out with some super hp car. I have no use for it, and certainly can't afford it even if it is below $100K. So, no, no one event or person, just a wide variety of research and experiences and opinions and plain old math.

MCO said...

Your deathgrip on your position amuses me. You state "GM is the only company seriously investing in fuel cells". You must have left out the " Dearborn, Michigan.." part of that sentence since Honda, BMW and Toyota all have working prototypes.

Also, and this is a think before you speak problem again, "most fuel efficient SUV on the planet". Is that in a field of two? A "most fuel efficient SUV" is like "cleanest bulldozer", "smallest city bus" or "quietest fire engine". Duh?

Eric said...

i've been wanting to add my two cents to this and since i have a few minutes, i will do that.

my first car was a Pontiac Sunbird (89 maybe? and it was given to me by my aunt which was awesome). i liked it while it lasted, but the engine blew at somewhere around 100,000 miles. i don't know the exact mileage because the speedometer stopped working somewhere around 90,000 which prevented the odometer from working. When the mechanic came out to tell me it was a lost cause, he said that it was perfectly normal for that to happen with that particular engine at that mileage. he saw it very frequently. so after that i wasn't so keen on GM (i wanted something that was built to last longer that 100k). my next car was a 91 dodge spirit which was another old junker, but it was more reliable than i expected. then i drove a 96 pontiac grand prix which was a nice car and relatively powerful, but i had to put a lot of money into it for various things.

finally when i got out of school and got a real job i bought a 2001 VW Jetta GLX VR6. I had always wanted a German car (particularly a VW or an Audi) because of their reputation of being fun to drive and just all around good cars. and boy is it fun to drive. i had to let my wife drive it once a week or so :) VW's are known for running 300k miles without a lot of maintenance. i've had to put more money into it than i hoped - things like Mass Airflow Sensor and ignition coil.. everything seems to cost like $600 to fix.

Alicia has had a LOT of different cars over the years, but we'll start at graduation - she got a brand new Chrysler PT Cruiser LE Dream Cruiser.. and it was great looking and we got a lot of waves and funny looks from people on the roads. but unfortunately it was underpowered (4 cyl) and the transmission went after only about 20,000 miles. it was covered under the warranty but it was a big pain. and guess what? it went a second time and (i believe) a third time. so.. we traded it in and got a 2005 Camry. We looked at a few different models but this had a great size and gas mileage and we got a good deal. Alicia put probably 50,000 miles on it the first year commuting to work and going home to NY.. it hasn't needed a thing besides regular oil changes. it certainly has proven to be a better value than anything we could have chosen, and will probably last us to 200,000 if we want to keep it that long. it isn't as fun to drive as the jetta (and the steering is very different), but it has plenty of power and gets great gas mileage. in the fall a mechanic told us that it would need new brakes shortly (by the spring) but we just had them checked again - and the guy said "brakes look good all around - should have at least 5-10,000 more miles on them"

i am not opposed to american cars in general, however we will probably never buy a ford or a chrysler from past experience. maybe a saturn or something, but most vehicles that i look at are japanese or korean. i'm gonna buy the best car for my money and hopefully the US will catch up with some of the other countries in the important things such as reliability and gas mileage. good topic bill.