Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

By , on February 8, 2011

Cars and Trucks

I purchased a 2008 five-speed Honda Civic. It is a good car that gets great gas mileage. But my dealer, Capitol City Honda in Olympia Washington, is a turn off.

So far, here is my history with them:

1. My windshield wipers were squeaking. I bought new blades. They sold me the wrong ones, and they worked worse than the old ones. I finally went in to complain when they discovered the problem.

2. The car failed to start one winter morning. I called the dealership, and asked if cars like mine were having problems. They said no, and asked where I buy my gas. My answer was Costco, and they blamed my supplier for having water in their gas. They offered to repair my car for $400, to drain and refill my fuel tank. Of course, I would have had to have the car towed there, which seemed a bit silly.

I spoke with my local Costco sales folks and they seemed to be doing everything correctly to avoid water problems. I then realized that I had likely caused the problem by allowing my fuel level to get low while parking the car outside on cold nights. I bought a $2 can of gas additive (alcohol) and the car started fine. Savings: $398 plus tax.

3. The car makes a noise, perhaps a dashboard vibration, so I brought it in. At first, I was impressed with the mechanic on the road test. He could hear the sound, but he could not pinpoint it because his hearing is better in one ear than the other, too. Then the mechanic made a bee line for the dealership, asked me to press an interior panel to see if the sound went away. I did and it didn’t. The service rep was not going to give me a repair ticket until I demanded it. He also said that if this problem was not found before the warranty expiration, any costs for diagnostics and repair would be borne by me. Making matters worse, I received an e-mail about the quality of the service, saying I would receive a survey. I was supposed to get in touch with the person sending me that e-mail if I could not answer the survey favorably. So I e-mailed him. I got no answer, nor did I receive a survey.

The first Honda I drove was a 1984 Accord, assigned to me by my employer. At the time, Honda was beginning to enjoy a good reputation for quality. That car was reliable, but the gearing (5-speed) was very tall. It was an absolutely dull driving experience. The car had no zip or pep, and I decided there was no way in hell I would buy such a car.

Then I drove my mom’s 2003 Accord with a four cylinder and automatic. The engine vibrates like an egg beater with candy stuck on one side, but intermittently. The Port Richey, Florida dealer said there was nothing they could do – this was normal. The car was new and under warranty at the time.

Honda has pretty good cars, but Honda of America dealers do not know how to support the product. They should remove the words “customer service” from this continent until they can successfully introduce the concept. I am disgusted to have another car with crappy dealer support. (The last time it happened was with a Chevrolet dealer, the Chevrolet that existed before bankruptcy, not the current company).

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