“We need to replicate the problem.” – Don’t buy Dodge, it will potentially kill you.

“We need to replicate the problem.” This is the official statement from Dodge. This is a statement with regards to LOSING POWER WHILE DRIVING. But this is their official statement.

So let me tell you the tale of our minivan. Our NEW Dodge Grand Caravan. A tale I hadn’t told due to the ongoing hassle with Wawanesa, but as it shows a similar “big corp” disregard for customer safety and well being it is time to tell the story. I also feel it is necessary to get the problem out on the public forum so others know that there is this issue with the vans. Recalls only happen after deaths.

We bought a Dodge Grand Caravan in Mid October 2014. Brand new from Southside in Red Deer, Alberta. The van isn’t 5 months old yet. This is our second 2014 Grand Caravan, our first one had no problems at all, but was written off while I was traveling 10 km/h (tells you how fast the other car was going!).

Here is a detail of everything that has gone wrong in the last four months:

1)U-Connect Mic – The van started out with a niggly problem of the mic in the U-Connect system not working. A slight problem when having a hands free system means you need to hold your phone to talk. THREE trips to the dealership and the problem was eventually fixed.

2)Heat Stuck On High – Three separate incidents of the heat being stuck on full blown high on the passenger side. Imagine driving over 3000 kms with one temperature….”hotter than hell”. We had items in the glove box that melted. Melted. Of course it happened THREE times intermittently before it could be fixed at the dealership because they “have to replicate the problem”.

3) Tire Pressure Light – comes on and off at will…..I was told it was normal

……..but this isn’t all

4) Burning Rubber Smell – it comes and it goes, a strong burning rubber smell, burning in a vehicle probably isn’t good, or maybe it is Chrysler’s version of a “new car smell”. Everyone just shrugs when we mention burning smell. Perhaps the vehicle needs to go up in flames like a Guy Fawke’s bonfire for them to “replicate the problem”.

5) U-Connect Cuts Out While Streaming – this is STILL happening. The further you drive the worse it gets. It seems as the van heats up it cuts out more and more. Coming back from the coast last week by Salmon Arm it was cutting out once per song, by Calgary it was FIVE times in a three minute song. Yes we’ve tried to “replicate the problem”, I even drove around for an HOUR BEFORE taking the car to the dealership to warm it up, it was cutting out. Serviced person gets into the van, we do a 2 km drive, it cuts out while he is looking in the glove box not paying attention and missed it. WE REPLICATED THE PROBLEM, but the service person missed it.

We were also told the cutting out was due to the areas we were driving, so that would be….Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, Golden, Revelstoke, Sicamous, Salmon Arm, Kamloops, Merritt, Hope, Abbotsford, Langley, Vancouver, Victoria and Pender Island , plus ALL the connecting routes. Tops of mountains, at sea level,probably the only place it doesn’t happen is on the ferry….because the van isn’t turned on.

Chrysler Canada’s solution for the U-Connect streaming issue was to “USE A CORD”. Yep. Take your phone. Plug in a $4 cord. Listen that way. Trick is to “Use A Cord” you need to TURN OFF BLUETOOTH……and answer your phone WITH YOUR HANDS. Chrysler’s version of “hands free”. Clearly safety or abiding by the law while driving is no concern of Chrysler (which will be proven in the next entry).

……. the piece de resistance

6) CAR LOSING POWER – yep, you heard it here first. I was driving to pick the kids up from school on Friday. I get to the intersection of 39th street and 43rd avenue, turn the corner and no power. No matter how hard I press down the accelerator I can’t get above 30 km/h. I am praying no one rear ends me. The “MIL” light is flashing, the van is dinging, I can’t drive properly, I have a pre-schooler in the back seat, and I am going to get rear ended if someone isn’t watching. The van is powerless. The van limps down the road, gets to the school with not even enough power to park it; I leave it diagonal in the first spot and apologize to the father parked next to me. I call my husband to rescue us. He leaves a customer at the office. I am NOT putting my kids in a vehicle that loses power only to be rear ended and have my whole family killed. I am not that stupid.

After a big phone palaver (at this point we are beyond insanely unhappy) with both Chrysler and Southside we come up with this solution. My kids ARE NOT going back in the van. No way. My husband loads the kids in his WORK truck and drives them home, while I drive the van home. We then leave our 16 year old watching his four siblings. The plan is that I drive the van to Southside, my husband drives behind watching in case I lose power. I go to start the van, the whole instrument panel flashes and quits. This is new. I start it a second time and it doesn’t flash. We drive through downtown and up Spruce Drive avoiding any routes where there is any amount of speed. Going up Spruce Drive I tested the power, put my foot down as you do in the mountain passes, the tackometer would soar, the van wouldn’t go above 50 km/h. This isn’t right. This is a new vehicle, by the end of the year we will be putting on about 24,000 km through mountain passes alone, we need to go UPHILL and fast, the speed limit on the Coquihalla is 120km/h, we need to be able to get above 50-60 km/h.

We drop off our van at Southside, choose not to take a courtesy vehicle as they will use that as an excuse to drag out the whole situation, and spend the WHOLE WEEKEND STUCK AT HOME VEHICLELESS……while our “new” van is in the shop again.

Before I continue, let’s do a recap on how many times this “new” vehicle has been in the shop:

– 3 times for the mic
-at least twice (once for verification) for the heat issue (possibly one more time, I’ve lost count)– I think twice for the cutting in and out, it has been ongoing so one visit may have been combined with a heater visit
– the current visit with the loss of power

That is a minimum of SEVEN TIMES IN THE SHOP IN LESS THAN FIVE MONTHS……….for a new vehicle…..”new vehicle”.

…..but it gets better

Now it is Monday, I am still car-less, even though I own a “new vehicle”. All day long, no car. My husband is taking time from work to run the kids around, running them around in his work’s ROOFING TRUCK. This is why you buy a “new vehicle”. Soooooooo…….. we hear from the dealership, they “can’t replicate the problem”. Of course. They also say ” The computer doesn’t show the MIL light came on.” and to fix it they “need to replicate the problem”. Really……. I’m sorry, I was driving, the light did come on and the van did lose power and it is beyond dangerous because if you are driving at the speed limit and the person behind you is doing the same and you suddenly lose power well, you get rear ended and can end up DEAD.

….but the computer says the light didn’t go on and they can’t “replicate the problem”….so that is how life is…..a $10 circuit board encased in plastic with a flashy light knows more about what is going on that the person that experienced the problem.

So we get into it with Dodge on their Canadian Facebook site, we are done. SIX separate issues in less than 5 months and now it is becoming dangerous. EVENTUALLY W. at Chrysler gets back to my husband who has been leaving messages about the problems for what seems like an eternity (but is in fact less than 5 months).

Let me give you the highlights of the conversation:

– they need to “replicate the problem” which means someone is going to have to get in a vehicle, drive it so that it loses power, get rear-ended and be maimed or killed all in the effort of following  company policy to “replicate the problem”

– when my husband says it isn’t safe to have someone drive our vehicle it is mentioned that the service people have liability insurance…….what does that matter if a husband, wife, father or mother is killed…………..this complete disregard for safety of the public and their employees is shocking. Another case of “profit over people”, with “big corp” people are disposable.

– W. at Chrysler took offense when my husband called it a lemon and said we can’t say that. Ahem. SIX separate problems in less than FIVE months, some that Chrysler’s solution is “use a cable” because they can’t fix it. What constitutes a problem….the engine dropping out or all the wheels simultaneously dropping off? What is Chrysler’s bench mark for a “lemon”?

– W. said they aren’t in the business of buying back vehicles. So Chrysler can sell you a vehicle that doesn’t work properly, Chrysler can sell you a vehicle that they can’t fix, Chrysler can sell you a vehicle that isn’t safe…….and it is your problem. The consumer’s money wasted, the consumer’s well being put at risk. CHRYSLER WILL NOT STAND BEHIND THEIR PRODUCTS. This is the theme of “big corp”, screw your customer and put them at risk, the consumer doesn’t matter just billions in the bank.

– As I refuse to take a “rental vehicle”…… I am completely unrealistic in the eyes of Chrysler, I am unrealistic to  expect that if I buy a NEW vehicle I might actually be able to DRIVE IT and DRIVE IT SAFELY ( I know, what the heck am I thinking!)

…….and so the van sits at the dealership

………I’m not driving a deathtrap

…….. I am car-less

……….I “own” a new vehicle that isn’t safe to drive

………I can’t take my kids to school

……… I can’t pick my kids up from school

……… I can’t take my son to work

………. I can’t go grocery shopping

……….I am stuck at home…………………with my computer………………and what I can do is hit social media with this ridiculous situation

 

The list price on the vehicle was around $30K.

$30K to have an un-driveable “new” vehicle.……well driveable if you want to risk your life ……………..mere insignificant detail!

—————————-

And now I am going to tell you the rest of the story:

We have owned several Dodge Grand Caravans, a 1998, 2003, 2010, and two 2014’s. I am going to share the story of our 2010. Our 2010 van was “OK”. Yes the engine was under-powerd (proven in the stats sheet for horse-power) and it had to go in for the ignition problem (recall), but it was okay. And then we started to have a few weird issues one was the radio cutting in and out and the other was the heat sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. We were just out of warranty when these two things started happening so my guess is sometime in 2012 or 2013. At first the problems were intermittent, and then they happened more and more. You could fool the heating into working by turning the dial up all the way then turning back so that it was positioned in between blowing levels. The radio we solved by streaming our iPod through a portable “bem” speaker ( I had lost confidence and wasn’t putting a new radio into the van).

So let me share my very last trip in my 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan van. March 2014, we are headed to the west coast with our five children for spring break. We are driving down the QE2 and notice the heat is really iffy, the “trick” is no longer working, we try to find the sweet spot where it will work. We reach Calgary, take the Stony Trail, and as we are going past the Costco I say to my husband it isn’t driving right, the power isn’t there. He tried to tell me it was the hill and maybe it was windy, but it was more than that, the way the van was driving was wrong. We continue on to the Trans Canada and head west. We stop at Deadman’s Flats for gas. We fill up. We go to start the vehicle. NOTHING. FLAT. DEAD. We are stuck at the gas station which is in a community of another gas station and a couple of run down motels. As our family does not fit in the tow truck we wait FOUR hours to be rescued. The van is towed to the Dodge dealership in Olds,AB , we are told it will be three weeks for a part. Heating doesn’t work, radio doesn’t work, van doesn’t go. We cut our losses and buy a new 2014.

“That” new 2014 worked, but was written off in an accident in September.

I can’t help but go back to our experience from close to a year ago and make comparisons. Both vans have had heating problems, both vans have had radio/u-connect problems, both vans have lost power when driving. That is one heck of a coincidence. Actually, it isn’t a coincidence it is a PATTERN, or perhaps a SYMPTOM, that is is only a matter of time that if the loss of power doesn’t kill us, the van will simply die and leave us stranded.

———–Tuesday morning update—————-

Chrysler Facebooks me to say that they will call us this morning but they have to take down the Facebook post as it uses an employees name. So guess what, it is now 12:15 Alberta time….2:15 pm down east…..yes PM….and NO PHONE CALL! Clearly the post was taken down due to the utterly rubbish customer service and the fact Chrysler and their employees don’t feel confident in either the service they provide or the product they sell.This company is one lie after another and can’t even manage a phone call when they promise it…..and if they say they are busy……..why the heck are so many of the vehicles you building NOT working? It’s a good question.

——————–Tuesday Afternoon Update——————–

“Can not replicate problem”

Fourth day without a vehicle THIS TIME…..plus ALL the other times at the shop

—————–Summary—————-

I am not putting my kids in that death trap. It is sitting at the Southside dealership.

Thousands of dollars WASTED.

Dodge will sell you a vehicle, a new vehicle, but don’t be so unrealistic to think it will WORK.

————————————————–

Edited to add:

I have now emailed Transport Canada with the following email as this is a public safety concern for anyone driving on the roads with a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan. The email reads:

March 3, 2015

Att. Transport Canada
Minister Raitt

Dear Minister Raitt,

I am finding myself contacting you as we have an issue that could have an impact regards to safety on Canada’s roads and highways.

We have a new 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan purchased in October 2014. Serial number xxx. On Friday we were driving, the van loses power, the MIL light comes on and the van starts dinging. We take it to our dealership as you do with any warranty issue. Their computer doesn’t show the MIL coming on, plus they say they “can’t replicate the problem”.

A car losing power on the road is a hazard for both the driver of the faulty vehicle and the vehicles behind the faulty vehicle. This technical issue is going to result in injuries and deaths. This technical difficulty isn’t being detected by the service departments.

Our dealership seems to think it isn’t a problem as does Dodge. We have been in contact with both. The worry here is it IS happening and they aren’t detecting the technical issue in the service department. This means even in a fatality inquiry the issue won’t be detected.

Once I got over my initial anger of the issue, I realized the broader scope of how dangerous this is. The potential to lose power and thus be rear ended will inevitably end in fatalities. I want to drive in safe vehicles. I want to be on the road with safe vehicles.

I felt I had to formally get on record that this issue is happening. Perhaps you can take this concern in whatever direction necessary to insure we are driving in and with safe vehicles.

By the way I have blogged details of our experience at: https://htheblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/we-need-to-replicate-the-problem-dont-buy-dodge-it-will-potentially-kill-you/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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