About a month ago, I mentioned car problems. Here’s the whole story of my crappy car so far.
I own a 2005 Chevy Aveo that I bought brand new for $11,200 on a 5 year loan. I ended up paying a total of about $12,800 by the time I paid it off 2 years later. It’s currently 5 years old and has driven about 42,000 miles. I bought it because I needed an inexpensive car, I was young enough to think that used cars sucked, and I only needed a commuter vehicle. This was 3 years before I figured out how to buy a car properly or how to sell a car on Craigslist.
For 4 years, my Aveo did its job with only a few minor problems. It slowly leaks about an inch of brake fluid every 4-6 months which I refill on my own now for $2 a shot. It also wears down good tires every 2 1/2 years or 20,000 miles.
I’ve stuck to the maintenance schedule in the owner manual since I first bought it, so I thought I would be okay until at least 2012.
The First Situation
Last November (2009), my check engine light popped on while I was heading to work. I was worried, so I stopped by my mechanic who was 5 miles away. It took him 10 minutes to find out that my 02 sensor was broken and my serpentine belt was cracked. My car had less than 39,000 miles at this point.
Luckily, my husband had the day off and drove me into work. My supervisor lives in my direction and was able to drop me off on his way home. Since my mechanic could get the parts from a dealer nearby, I was able to pick up my car that afternoon but had to fork over $540 total with tax. But it worked, so I swallowed my annoyance and hoped for the best.
The Second Situation
This April I was driving home from work and my A/C started blowing hot air that smelled a little. It took me 2 miles of feeder road before I noticed that my car’s thermostat gauge was reading a big fat H for hot. After pulling over and calling my husband, I opened the hood and it looked like some icky liquid had exploded all over the place.
I called my mechanic and asked what I should do. Obviously he suggested having it towed in so they could take a look. I wrote down his address. I then called our car insurance company to see if I had towing on my policy. I did and she sent out a tow truck to my location. By that time my husband was waiting with me and I was so proud of not freaking out. Let’s just say I don’t usually handle stress very well.
My mechanic called me the next morning with the happy news that my thermostat housing had cracked in half. I knew this was coming since I had googled “Chevy Aveo Overheating” the night before and the first page of results all mentioned broken thermostat housings for the 2004-2006 models. Why? Because they used cruddy plastic housings instead of metal ones like everybody else.
My mechanic quoted $375 plus tax, which was similar to mentioned prices online, so I gave him the go ahead. It was ready that afternoon and cost $343 total. My crappy plastic thermostat housing was replaced with a much better metal one and now the car is driving fine again.
The Official Complaint
Call me crazy, but I do not think I should have to spend $900 on major parts in less than 6 months on a car with less than 42,000 miles!
I emailed an official complaint to GM’s customer service department detailing everything. I received a phone call a few days later, went over the specifics, and was told that Paul would get back to me the next day. Paul did not call. I left a voicemail a week later and received a call back the next morning. Since none of the parts that were replaced were part of a recall or replaced by a Chevrolet dealership, there’s nothing they can do.
He was nice enough to tell me that there was a recall for part of the electronics system though – they need to reprogram my Engine Control Module. Fantastic. *heavy sarcasm*
I have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs. I also see a Hyundai Accent or Toyota Yaris in my future. Maybe a used Prius since my husband’s has worked out so well…hmmm…choices, choices.
Any car horror stories out there? Any suggestions for my next car?
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!