Misleading Headline of the Day

This really sounds like it should be a headline about something that happened at a strip club, not in NASCAR qualifying:

Johnson on pole after Montoya's lap disallowed

posted on 26 September 2008 at 21160 commentstrackback

Pimp My Ride

I'm just wondering...will glue-on Brembos help slow my car down after I use all those "Type R" stickers to make it go faster? Gotta have balance, you know.

posted on 12 August 2008 at 17330 commentstrackback

Capitalism in the Car Business

I just had a brilliant insight. The reason none of the car dealers in south Florida are interested in selling cars is because they're all run by Cubans who don't understand the free-market economy.

This is excusable, considering they came from a country that has been communist for the last 50 years, where airport security workers make $10 per month and airline pilots for Cubana make the staggering salary of $30 per month, and where a can of Coke costs a week's salary for most people.

Here's the proof.

Being totally fed up with the process of "Walk into dealer, be ignored, spend three hours trying to test drive one vehicle, get jerked around by manager when it comes time to talk pricing", I decided to get on Mazda's Web site last night and request a quote on the vehicle I wanted from three dealers back home in Michigan, two dealers in Knoxville, and three here in Miami.

Knowing how the dealers in Miami have treated me, I added this in the comments field of the quote request:

S-Plan qualified, manual transmission a must-have. Would like out-the-door quotes for both leasing and buying with $2000 down. If you try to tack on $500 "dealer profit fees", be aware that I will laugh at you and walk out the door. If you cannot support your business with the profit you make from selling other cars, then perhaps you're in the wrong business. I'm tired of dealers wasting my time.

The dealer where I was subjected to the three-hour test drive ordeal on Thursday was one of the dealers from which I requested a quote. The Internet sales manager at that dealer got back to me this morning:

Hi Chris,

Well sorry, laugh and walk away.

After all this is a business and we are entitled to making a profit.

I'm sure that whatever your business is, the customer does not set the price. and here we do have operating expenses that must be covered. If I sell at invoice, our income comes from dealer fees, and that is not even out net profit as from there comes our expenses/operating budget.

So please, feel free to take your business somewhere else where they may want to sell at a loss, but I won't.

My response was this:

Thank you for not wasting my time.

>After all this is a business and we are entitled to making a profit.

Actually, I don't see anything in any laws anywhere that guarantees you a profit. It's a free market, after all, and I'm quite free to take my business where I choose.

I choose to take my business to dealers who are perfectly capable of making a profit after paying all their operating expenses from sales prices that do NOT include a $500 "dealer profit fee" added onto the vehicle's purchase price.

Your loss. Sorry.

Some people just don't get it.

posted on 11 August 2007 at 10310 commentstrackback

Buying a Car Sucks

In news that should surprise approximately nobody, buying a car is the most complicated, time-wasting, ridiculous process ever. And apparently car dealers in south Florida are in the business of...well, I'm not entirely sure what they're in the business of, besides "not selling cars".


I am in the market for a car. I have been in the market for a car since, oh, December.

Two weeks ago, I walked into the showroom of a local Honda dealer looking like a lost puppy dog. It took 45 minutes for a salesman to even approach me and ask if I needed help. When I told him I was interested in a Honda Fit Sport with a manual transmission and that I wanted to test drive one, he quickly agreed and promised to find one.

An hour later -- apparently it's all the rage for kids these days to steal shift knobs when salesmen are looking the other way, so no cars on the lot have them, and the management keeps the two spares under lock and key -- I was finally in the car watching the salesman drive it across the parking lot at 25 MPH in first gear. After the first turn, he said, "I don't really like driving a manual transmission."

Yeah. Ya think?

Then he tried to tell me I could only test drive it around the parking lot because the service department had all the plates. I told him to go get a plate and that I was taking it for a test drive, which he finally did, and I finally did.

Upon returning to the dealer, he immediately offered me the one I wanted (which they would have to order from another area dealer) for $65 under sticker. Honda Fits are notoriously difficult to come by in some parts of the country, but here in south Florida they seem to have plenty of stock, and they're all '07 models which are about to get superseded by the '08s.

But when he printed up a quote, there was a $599.95 "dealer documents fee". When I asked him what that was -- title and license were listed separately -- I was told that they have to "pay the janitor, keep the lights on, etc.", to which I responded, "But that's the normal cost of doing business."

I walked out.

I went to the Honda dealer back home and asked if I could buy a Fit. I was told I could get on a two- to three-month waiting list, that I would have to put $1000 down to reserve my spot, and under no circumstances was the sales manager going to let any Honda Fit leave his lot for less than $1000 over sticker price before taxes, title, delivery, license, etc.

I walked out.

I went to the local Mazda dealer yesterday to test-drive a Mazda 3. I'm very much interested in a 3s Touring with a manual transmission. The salesman told me they didn't have any. I asked if they had any Mazda 3 models with a manual transmission, and he said, "I don't know. Let me check with the manager."

This was to become his refrain for the next hour and a half.

When we finally located one, he couldn't find a key. He had to check with the manager.

Once he got the key, the car wouldn't start due to a dead battery. He went to check with the manager and the service department.

Forty-five minutes later, as I read through the magazines lying around the showroom, he introduced me to another salesman, saying he had to go to the airport and that the other guy would take care of me. "I'll be here," I said.

Nearly half an hour later, the second salesman pulled up in a Mazda 3i with a manual -- but not the same car I had been looking at before. No matter, I wasn't interested in that colour anyway, but I could at least get a feel for the car and take it for a test drive, which I did. On the test drive, I asked him if he could get me a 3s Touring model with a manual from dealer stock somewhere in the area. "Probably not," came the reply. "Well, how long if I had to order one?"


We returned to the dealer and discussed pricing, which consisted of the salesman asking me how much I wanted to put down ($2000), and whether I wanted to buy or lease (work up numbers for both, please), after which he replied, "OK, let me go check with my manager."

Can we eliminate the middleman, please? If these salespeople aren't authorised to actually, you know, sell anything, how about you fire them and stop charging these ridiculous "dealer fees"?

That guy disappeared for 15 minutes, and out of nowhere, the manager appeared and sat me down in his office, whereupon he quoted me an out-the-door price of $17,800 (based on a retail price of $15,995) for the vehicle I just drove. When I asked for a printout of his figures, lo and behold, a $499 "dealer fee" was in the price. I pointed to it and asked him what it was. "I have to keep the lights on," he answered.

"But that's just part of the cost of doing business. You're supposed to cover that by the profit you make selling cars."

"I'm not making any profit selling you this car. I'm selling it under invoice." (Which, incidentally, is true, but ignores the obvious point that he clearly isn't selling every car on the lot under invoice.)

I then asked him to work the lease numbers, which he did extremely fast, probably in hopes that I wouldn't notice a) the sticker price being used as a basis for the lease and b) the $908 figure in the "dealer profit" box.

When I asked him why the starting price of the lease was different from the sale price he just quoted me, he said that I must be mistaken. When I told him they were some $900 different, he said, "Oh, leases start at MSRP."

"No, I want to lease this car at this price," I said, pointing to the piece of paper.

"Can't do it."

I walked out.

I'm through dealing with all this bullshit and nonsense. My new approach is going to be this:

I walk into the dealer's showroom and ask to speak to the sales manager.
I tell the sales manager that I'm very much interested in purchasing Vehicle X, and that I will not be paying any "dealer greed and extra profit" fees that he wishes to tack on. (Note that I am willing to have the dealer handle the paperwork with the state for a marginal fee, like $100. $500 or more is a complete rip-off, though.)
I point out that the sales manager has two choices: he can accept the profit he'll make by selling me a car without those fees, or he can accept a profit of zero dollars by not selling me a car at all.

Take it or leave it, guys. And stop wasting my time. I can't get in and out of a dealer in anything less than three hours!

posted on 10 August 2007 at 22080 commentstrackback

It's a Joke, People

For you Spanish speakers out there:

Hay un hombre de Espa?±a que est?° de vacaciones en la Republica Dominicana, y necesita tomar un autobus. Le pregunta al nativo, ¬øD??nde puedo cojer un autobus? y el nativo responda, "Por el m??fler."

Warning: not even remotely safe for work.

For those of you who are not Spanish speakers, the crux of the joke is that the word "cojer" in Spain and much of the Caribbean and South America (but not in Mexico, most of the rest of Central America, or the Dominican Republic) means "to catch", in the sense of "to catch a bus" (which is what our Spaniard friend is attempting to ask). In Mexico, most of Central America, and the Dominican Republic, the predominant usage is vulgar, essentially equivalent to the English "to fuck". The Dominican understands the Spaniard's question as the latter meaning, and tells him, "In the muffler".

Except that's a joke. No one is suggesting that the Spaniard then went off to find a nice warm tailpipe in which to relieve himself. But there apparently exists that contingent of society -- and this is why I both love and hate the Internet, where any random nutjob with an opinion out in left field can publish a how-to guide for the most bizarre fetish -- who actually loves their vehicles so much that they wish to copulate with them.

I really wish I were kidding.

posted on 03 August 2007 at 12180 commentstrackback

Channeling P.T. Barnum

As he famously said, "There's a sucker born every minute."

Guess that explains how the "Tornado" goofs can claim 100,000 satisfied customers. That's only 10 weeks' worth of suckers, after all!

posted on 07 August 2006 at 20250 commentstrackback

Debunking More Auto Myths

This time we're taking aim at HowStuffWorks, which is normally a good site to check out if you're in need of an explanation of some mechanical gizmo. The guy who answered the latest entry in the Question Archive was sleeping on the job, though.

The question: If daytime running lights were mandatory in the U.S., and all vehicles had them, how much extra gasoline would that use each year?

HowStuffWorks's answer, after a whole bunch of calculations and assumptions: about 406 million gallons per year.

Where did they screw up? Let's break it down.

A typical headlight bulb uses about 55 watts; sometimes the daytime running lights run at a lower wattage so they use a little less power. Let's say the daytime running lights use 100 watts since there are two bulbs.

No problems here. That seems quite reasonable, if possibly a marginal over-estimate.

To calculate the energy used, we need to figure out how much time people will spend with their lights on.

And herein lies the enormous erroneous assumption: that having the lights on places sufficient additional load on the vehicle's alternator so as to cause extra drag on the engine.

I drive with my lights on literally all the time, in both my car (a 1992 Honda Accord EX sedan) and my motorcycle (a 2001 Suzuki SV650S). On the bike, I don't have a choice -- the headlights are hardwired to the ignition. On the car, however, I do have a choice. So it becomes a very simple matter to test this assumption. Drive for a few tanks of gas with the lights on, and a few tanks of gas with the lights off, and calculate the mileage returned by the vehicle over those tanks of gas.

With the headlights (or DRLs) on, we ought to see a noticeable decrease in mileage if their assumption is correct. We don't. Q.E.D.

If anyone has hard figures for the no-load drag of a typical car's alternator, as well as for the drag at various loads, I'd be very curious to know just how erroneous the assumption is.

posted on 26 July 2006 at 02190 commentstrackback

On Fuel Efficiency, Or Lack Thereof

Car and Driver's staff engineering wonk Patrick Bedard has written a doozy of an article this month on why the so-called "Ethanol Solution" to high gas prices is little more than a thinly veiled (or not-at-all veiled) farm subsidy. Bedard's article, as is usual for his writing, takes a popular idea -- in this case the vague idea of a solution to our endless appetite for dead dino juice put forth by the Bush administration -- and utterly destroys it with hard numbers.

Using ethanol to power internal-combustion engines isn't a bad idea, but it's not going to wean us of our dependency on foreign oil any time soon, either. (As an aside, did you know only 19 percent of our petroleum imports in 2004 came from the Middle East?) The ethanol production process simply isn't efficient enough right now to replace a significant fraction of petroleum imports with ethanol. A process that allows for more diverse feedstock, like thermal depolymerization, might be a viable alternative. Bedard, unfortunately, does not address TDP at all in his article (though, in his defence, the article is focused on ethanol and is not a general treatise on "green energy").

What caught my eye as I read the article, though, was Bedard's mention of the relatively poor fuel efficiency realised by vehicles powered by E85, an 85-15 mixture of ethanol and traditional gasoline. The reason for this is the lower energy density of ethanol: a gallon of ethanol contains only about 75% of the stored chemical energy of a gallon of gasoline. In C&D's testing, a 2007 Chevy Tahoe (which has an engine capable of running on up to 85 percent ethanol) showed a 30 percent drop in fuel economy running on E85 relative to 87-octane pump gas. That's directly proportional to the lower energy density of E85.

Diesel fuel throws yet another wrench in the works; the heavier and less-refined fuel oil sold as fuel for diesel engines is slightly more energy-dense than regular gasoline, and contains a lot more chemical energy than E85. Let's step into the world of hypotheticals for a moment and imagine that a piston engine exists that will run equally well on all three fuels -- diesel (or a biofuel equivalent, like WVO or the output from a TDP plant), gasoline, or ethanol. Let's say we've installed this engine into a Honda Accord, a fairly "typical" family car in the United States. Assume our hypothetical flex-engined Accord gets 30 MPG on gasoline. That means, assuming the engine is equally as efficient at converting all fuels to forward motion, this car gets 35 MPG on diesel, and a dismal 22.5 MPG on pure ethanol (about 23.6 MPG on E85).

Thinking this through very quickly in my head while reading the article, I came to a realisation: what we really need is a new measure of efficiency. I alluded to it above. The important number is not how many gallons of fuel we've added to our vehicle. What matters is how well said vehicle turns that fuel into forward motion. Without getting into a 40 rods to the hogshead sort of measurement, I think it would far more useful if we were to say that a vehicle got X number of miles per megajoule (or some other usefully large unit of energy). In our above example, using gasoline as the fuel, 30 MPG is equivalent to .227 miles per megajoule. (Gasoline contains approximately 132 megajoules of energy per gallon.)

"But that doesn't make any sense," you say. Just like the metric system, it doesn't make any sense because you haven't bothered to use it regularly. If window stickers gave EPA ratings in miles per megajoule instead of MPG, and provided conversion factors for two or three common fuels, people would get used to it soon enough. The other obvious solution -- putting MPG figures for different fuels on the window sticker -- would work, too. The desired outcome is for people to become more aware of how good a given vehicle is at converting energy into forward motion, in the face of a confusing array of alternative fuel choices.

Getting 35 MPG on diesel isn't nearly as impressive as getting 35 MPG on E85. Conversely, paying $2.50/gallon for diesel is a far better deal than paying $2.00 a gallon for E85, since our hypothetical engine will actually go 14 miles per dollar on diesel and only 11.8 miles per dollar on E85.

Me? I'm glad I ride a motorcycle.

posted on 10 June 2006 at 20350 commentstrackback

Free Gas? Not Likely

The local TV station ran a "tip" tonight just before a commercial break in the 11 o'clock news, which I've paraphrased here:

Buy gas in the morning or late in the evening. Pumps dispense gasoline by volume, not by density, so you get more gasoline when the liquid is cooler.

This seemed a little bit preposterous to me, so I did a little figuring. According to the first reference I could find on Google, the volumetric coefficient of thermal expansion of gasoline (at 20 °C) is about 0.000950 °C-1. In other words, one cubic metre of gasoline expands 950 mL if you increase the temperature of the gasoline from 20 °C to 21 °C. Assume the expansion is fairly linear, or that the coefficient remains fairly constant, within ¬±10 °C or so (Gateco Oil's MSDS for unleaded regular says the boiling point is just under 30 °C).

A typical passenger car has a gas tank capable of holding around 15 gallons, or about 57 L. For the sake of argument, let's say the temperature of gasoline stored in tanks 3-4 metres underground is subject to just as much fluctuation as the surface air temperature (a dubious assumption at best, but we'll give the news crew the benefit of the doubt). Let's be generous and say the average overnight low in the summer is about 10 °C (50 °F) and the average daytime high is about 30 °C (86 °F), a 20-degree swing. (We'll ignore the fact that regular unleaded would be boiling at that temperature. Remember, we're being generous here.)

In that situation, 20 °C * 0.000950 °C-1 * 57 L gives us a ΔV of about 1 L, or just over one-fourth of a U.S. gallon. At $3/gallon, that means we got ourselves about 90 cents of free gas by tanking up at the crack of dawn, or about enough gas to drive our typical passenger car eight miles down the road.

Under more realistic circumstances -- say, a 10 °C temperature swing (which is still huge considering these tanks are three metres or more underground and that the temperature of the Earth remains essentially constant over a 24-hour period at any given depth below about one meter) -- your typical car gets a whopping 45 cents of free gas. If you have a smaller tank than our "average" 15 gallons, the savings is even less.

The only possible way this "tip" could be useful is if the station stores their gasoline above ground and you have a gas tank the size of a KC-10.

Dave says this is a massive conspiracy theory to sell more Krispy Kreme doughnuts by encouraging people to fill up in the mornings. I can't say that he's wrong.

posted on 29 April 2006 at 00030 commentstrackback

Truth in Advertising

Watching CBS tonight and a Pontiac commercial comes on...

In 2006, great design separates Pontiac from its competition.

Yep, that'd be about right. Anyone remember the Aztek? That separated Pontiac from its competition, all right.

posted on 06 March 2006 at 21020 commentstrackback

Vehicle of Future Darwin Award Winners

Gotta be the Acabion GTBO. This Geneva-debuted prototype motorcycle-cum-car is capable of a claim top speed well in excess of 450 km/h (280 MPH) and at saner highway speeds, has a full-fuel range (24 gallons) of 1500 miles. Even at top speed, it gets over 14 miles per gallon!

Forget the personal jet. What we need is the personal superhighway, with this thing. "NO EXITS NEXT 100 MILES!"

(via Jalopnik)

posted on 03 March 2006 at 21050 commentstrackback

Big Brother is Watching You Drive

Not that you didn't know that already.

Apparently this is sort of old news -- the link here is dated September 2005 -- but OnStar is now offering e-mail diagnostics. Who else is getting that e-mail? And what data are those people getting that they're not sharing with me?

OnStar is nice and all, but no thanks. I'd rather not be tracked everywhere.

posted on 07 February 2006 at 00340 commentstrackback

As Dave Barry Would Say

Why the World Needs Guys, reason #1,850.

Oddly enough, this guy has apparently nothing to do with this guy, who is reason #1,851.

posted on 06 February 2006 at 21590 commentstrackback

OK, It's Official

The British get way cooler commercials than we Americans do.

(via Autoblog)

posted on 22 January 2006 at 21390 commentstrackback

Looking for a Bluetooth Headset

I'm looking for a good Bluetooth headset to use with my fone, primarily in the car. I'd like to avoid spending more than $50 if possible, but if there's an über-amazing headset out there that lives in my ear canal and gets two years of battery life while maintaining crystal-clear reception in all sorts of situations, I suppose I might be willing to pay more for it.

What's the best Bluetooth headset under $50? Under $100? Comments below, please.

posted on 25 October 2005 at 15561 commentstrackback

Do Not Mess With the Master

It's been a long night and I'm probably not entirely sobered up yet, but here goes.

Do not mess with the master.

There was a small, erm, "dispute" between two of my friends earlier tonight regarding, well, several things.

To make a very very long story very short, I don't trust either one of them with any car keys any time in the next six hours or so. So I did a five-minute field job on my buddy's car so our other friend -- who has the keys -- couldn't move it anywhere. Because last time he had the keys, the car showed up the next morning with random dents in it that weren't there before that.

The starter relay, starter fuse, and fuel pump fuse are in my pants pocket. That car isn't going ANYWHERE until I say it is.

Like I said.

Do not mess with the master.

That is all.

posted on 08 May 2005 at 04450 commentstrackback

Utterly Superfluous Automotive Accessories, Part LXVII

GM has announced it will be offering roof-mounted DirectTV satellite dishes as an option on 2006 Cadillac Escalades. Now pedestrians, car drivers, and motorcyclists everywhere can cower in fear at the possibility that someone will be watching 600 channels of high-definition digital entertainment instead of the road, whilst piloting a three-ton hunk of metal and fuel directly at them.

posted on 20 April 2005 at 11470 commentstrackback

The Next Grand Prix...er, M3




Someone please please please please puh-lea-he-he-heeeeze tell me those "designers" -- and I use the term as loosely as possible -- at BMW haven't hired the guy responsible for the 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix. I ask because the new M3 coupe looks an awful lot like a Grand Prix rear-ended a Ford Five Hundred.

This is even worse than the Bangle-isation of the 7-series derriére from a few years ago. Mark my words: this will be the final straw that gets Bangle fired if this design sees the light of day.

posted on 30 March 2005 at 00231 commentstrackback

Traffic Cameras Increase Fatal Accident Rate

Traffic cameras aren't doing motorists any favours. In fact, a Canadian study has found they actually increase the fatal accident rate at intersections where they're installed.

This should come as no surprise to subscribers to Car and Driver, whose editors were among the first in the industry to decry the use of red-light cameras as a "safety device" and expose them for what they really are: a gigantic cash cow for camera companies. Surprisingly, most police departments don't make much -- if any -- money from them because the companies selling them are taking such a high percentage of the ticket revenue.

Furthermore, studies have shown that increasing the delay between crossing red and green lights (i.e., all directions are red for a short time) is a no-cost way to increase safety. Unfortunately, this method doesn't result in money in the pockets of local police, and it certainly doesn't buy a new Porsche for the CEO of a red-light camera vendor. As an average citizen, I must say the lack of a new Porsche in some jerk's garage doesn't bother me in the least.

Isn't it about time we realised that this attempted tax-grab is endangering our citizenry and just gave up on the failed experiment?

(via Jalopnik)

posted on 29 March 2005 at 12170 commentstrackback

Finally, a Use for OnStar

After the subscription runs out, the OnStar system in current GM vehicles is essentially dead weight to carry around unless you want to pay the monthly subscription fees. Verizon (bleh) recently announced an add-on deal whereby you can keep the cell fone functionality and couple it with your Verizon service for about $10/month or so, which is nice for those suckers stuck with Verizon's cell fone service.

But now someone has figured out how to tap into the GPS unit and use it with PC-based mapping software. Not too useful for Geocaching, but very useful for anyone who doesn't want to spend another $250 to duplicate equipment they already have! This almost makes me want a GM product for my next vehicle. Too bad there aren't any GM products, aside from the Corvette, that don't suck. :-\

(via Hackaday)

posted on 29 March 2005 at 11270 commentstrackback

Top Ten Worst Recalls

Yahoo's Bizwire has a great story covering the top ten worst automotive recalls. My favourite is missing, though: in the mid-1990s, a bunch of Audi models were recalled because static electricity could result in an airbag discharge when touching the steering wheel upon entering the vehicle.

(via Autoblog)

posted on 10 March 2005 at 16050 commentstrackback

Mercedes Copies Apple, Didn't Get Memo

DaimlerChrysler's SMART division has introduced a FourTwo clad in translucent coloured plastics. This introduction comes approximately four years after Apple discontinued translucent coloured plastics as a design theme. Guess Ive's German, or Schrempp's English, wasn't up to snuff when that memo went out. Here, let's try this.

2001 benannten. Sie wünschen ihre Plastikrückseite.

posted on 10 March 2005 at 15570 commentstrackback

Chinese Automakers Blah Blah Blah

Autoblog has an interesting -- OK, I'm lying about the "interesting" part -- entry about the relatively high profile of Chinese automakers at the Geneva show. Here's the part I don't get:

With help from an Italian design house, Chinese automaker's [sic] presence couldn't be ignored at this year's Geneva Motor Show.

By "help from an Italian design house," Autoblog means "Pininfarina took a 1997 Honda Civic and ran a 1998 Nissan Altima up its ass to create the eminently forgettable Saibao."

posted on 08 March 2005 at 16480 commentstrackback

I Have Got to Get Me One of These!

Now, if I just had $20,000 and a year of free time to build it.


posted on 25 January 2005 at 14110 commentstrackback

Coolest SUV Accessory Ever

I can't wait to see someone put these on that Corvette monster truck I saw a couple of years ago down here in Tennessee. I really really really want to turn a big pickup truck into a half-track!

posted on 05 April 2004 at 23230 commentstrackback

Did I Mention I Was Pissed?

Yeah, so I talked to Art Moehn's service department today.

I wish I hadn't.

Apparently, the broken water pump caused the timing belt to stretch — whether they're directly related or if the overheating caused it, I don't know — which caused (probably — they won't know until they get into the engine) the pistons to tap the valves.

So I need a new cylinder head, new valves, a new timing belt, a new water pump, and a really really big fucking shotgun. And $3000. The shotgun is for the heads of the various service department MORONS at Howard Cooper — see previous entry — and M&M Honda in Kalamazoo, where we had our 90,000 mile service, and they MENTIONED THE WATER PUMP WOULD PROBABLY NEED REPLACING BUT DIDN'T OFFER US THE OPTION OF DOING IT AT THE TIME.

Did I mention water pumps cost all of $60? Sixty lousy fuckin dollars. You know where I'd like to stick that sixty bucks right now?

I smell a lawsuit. No, really. I smell a lawsuit. Anyone know a good lawyer I can talk to?

posted on 02 July 2003 at 23200 comments

I Am So Fucking Pissed Right Now

It's 2035 on Friday night and I'm sitting here in the back parking lot of Art Moehn Honda in Jackson, Michigan.

Why, you ask?

Because the service department at Howard Cooper Honda in Ann Arbor is a bunch of money-grubbing bastards who don't know shit about cars. Allow me to explain.

About two months back, a funny sound was coming from the right side of my engine, from the area of the timing belt. I didn't think the timing belt was bad, because it was replaced just under 20K miles back. However, my dad suspected the water pump. The sound went away, came back again, mostly went away again, and we decided it probably wasn't anything major, but I made a note to ask HC to check it out when I got the oil changed.

Well, a couple weeks ago I went to get the oil changed, and when I started up the car to drive it over there that morning, I didn't hear the squealing that we had heard before. I told the service department at HC there had been a noise, and that I'd like them to give it a listen. Enter the greedy bastards.

The guy who took my keys politely informed me that if I wanted a "tech" - apparently these guys are too good for the word "mechanic" - to "listen" to my "noise," it was going to "cost" me "seventy five" dollars for an "hour" of his "time," with the "minimum" being a "half hour." I told him that was OK, thanks, but not to bother unless they heard something whilst starting up or driving the car into the service department.

Four hours later, I get a call from the service department. "Your radiator is empty. Can wee add coolant? It'll be about $10 for a gallon." What, did you think I was going to say no? Again: money-grubbing bastards. Anyway, so I said, sure, go ahead and add the coolant, but I have no idea where all the coolant went. Neither did they - especially since we had the heater core replaced less than a year earlier and that fixed the coolant leak problems we were having at the time. They told me to keep an eye on coolant levels, and I drove home a week or so later and didn't have any problems at all. Coolant levels were within spec as of about 1900 this evening, too.

So I got on the road around 1815 this afternoon, and made it about 20 miles west of Ann Arbor. The engine started running very rough, almost like it was missing, and then the "check engine" light came on. Great. I glanced over at the thermostat and it was pegged past the H. Uh-oh. Then the oil light came on. Double uh-oh. I immediately got off the gas and pulled over, and pulled into a rest area. The radiator fan was working like mad, and the engine was hardly able to keep running as I limped into a parking place. There were clouds of steam coming out from under the hood when I popped it, and there was a rather sharp burned smell about the whole area. Ugh. Great. Just what I need. Here we are about to leave for vacation tomorrow and I'm stuck in Jackson with an undriveable vehicle.

I'm going to make a very reasonable assumption that Art Moehn won't be able to fix it tomorrow morning (Saturday) in time for us to pick it up on the way to Tennessee tomorrow afternoon. That means the earliest I can get it is next Sunday, also known as Fourth of July Weekend. So that's out. I have two presentations the following Wednesday, so I'm going to be far too busy to leave Ann Arbor for two hours to pick up my car, plus I won't have any good way to get there (since none of my friends has time to take two hours out of their day either). So at the earliest, I might have my car back the following Thursday, 10 July.

Did I mention how fucking pissed I am? AAAARRRRRRRGH!

Thank you, Howard Cooper, for being a bunch of money-grubbing bastards too desperate for a quick buck to properly diagnose a failing water pump. I'm never taking my car to you again for any service at all. Your greed has forever cost you my business. How d'ya like them apples?

posted on 28 June 2003 at 21420 comments