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Tricky Tranny Troubles
We'll never purchase a Chrysler automobile again and we're recommending you don't either. Read about our experience with a poorly engineered mini-van transmission and ridiculous experience with the Chrysler Customer Service. The transmission failed three hours from home, cost us $2,500 US to repair and customer service has been absolutely NO help whatsoever...
We'll never buy another Chrysler automobile and I'm recommending that you don't either. The transmission problems we had on our mini-van were astonishing and costly. (Their customer service and loyalty is also a match to their poorly engineered cars).
~ Troublesome Transmission ~
We bought a used 1993 Plymouth Grand Voyager LE. It was 10 years old and had 118,000 kilometers (approximately 73,000 miles) on the odometer. It was in superb condition, both physically and mechanically. It was the largest version of the model year, had AWD, a large 3.3 liter engine, a towing package, electric controls & leather seats. We paid $4,500 CAD for it and thought it was a good value, considering its features and condition.
We drove it locally, for a month, then took it on a 1,200-mile family vacation, to see Scott's folks, in California. The transmission acted funny on the way down, refusing to go into gear immediately at a stop sign and shifting jerkily on a couple of occasions. In California, we drained the transmission fluid, replaced the transmission filter and refilled it with the recommended "Mopar 7176" fluid.
On the return trip, we stopped to visit with friends in Seattle, spending the night. Upon our departure, the transmission refused to deliver power, leaving us stranded in Seattle. We opted for a genuine Mopar replacement transmission, which came with a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty. The bill totaled $3,503.89, plus incidental expenses, including a bus ride, back to Vancouver. It was an frustrating experience and and expensive repair.
That a transmission would fail at 73,000 miles is unbelievable. The mechanic who replaced the tranny said, "These transmissions are known to be troublesome and only last for about that [70,000 miles]. My advice? Drive the vehicle for another 70,000 miles and then sell it, before it needs another transmission."
Some stuff on a car needs to be replaced, including oil, tires, brake pads, a water pump (perhaps) and the odd fan belt. But not transmissions! Certainly not at $2,700.00 USD a pop and certainly not three or four times, over the life of a vehicle. Shame on Chrysler for such shoddy engineering.
But, that's not the end of the story and it's their customer service that really made me part ways with Daimler-Chrysler. To learn about the customer service fiasco, read on ...
~ Worrisome Warranty & Poor Customer Support ~
Canada and the United States are friendly neighbors. They share similar values, operate under a free trade agreement and many of the businesses that operate south of the border, operate north of the border. But, they're two different countries and the companies in each, are independently operated. There's Chrysler U.S.A. and Chrysler Canada. We worried that our U.S. Mopar warranty might not be honored in Canada (especially since the Canadian warranty had slightly different terms).
We asked various dealerships, both in Canada and the U.S., if there was a reciprocal agreement for honoring warranties. As you can imagine, it's not a question that comes up much and we received a disparity of replies. So, I called Chrysler Canada, hoping for a definitive answer, which I was relieved to receive. "Yes, warranties are honored throughout North America," said Stephanie, the Customer Service representative. Although a relief, a verbal response doesn't do much good when faced with a dealership that says, "No, we can only honor Canadian warranties."
My feeble retort would likely not garner much support, "But when I spoke with your Customer Service representative, Stephanie, on the phone, she said it would be honored."
When I conveyed the desire for written confirmation, Stephanie provide the file number for our telephone call and an address to which I could write, requesting a transcript of the call. So I wrote, thinking it would put the matter to rest, our minds eased that if needed to exercise the warranty, we'd be covered. Imagine my dismay when I received the following reply from a Chrylser Canada Customer Service Manager (S. Mailloux):
We have received your letter ... which is further to your previous contact with our Customer Assistance Center regarding your 1993 Plymouth Grand Voyager.
Please note that DaimlerChrysler Canada remains available to review the possibility of warranty coverage (my emphasis) for future repair required to your vehicle's transmission with the receipt of all pertinent required documentation.
What? This isn't the confirmation I was requesting or expecting. What kind of corporate CYA mumbo jumbo is this? I was appalled and couldn't believe my eyes.
I wrote back, indicating that I was "disappointed with their reply" and that it certainly wasn't confirmation of their commitment to honor a U.S. warranties in Canada. "The question is simple: 'Will Chrysler Canada honor a genuine Mopar Warranty for a genuine Mopar part, installed in the U.S. - Yes or No?' "
The second response, from a different Customer Service Manager (R. Ramos) didn't nothing to reassure me of Chrysler's commitment to their product, warranties or customers. It only cemented my belief that their customer service department steadfastly refused to answer to a straightforward question.
We regret any misunderstanding regarding the position taken by Daimler-Chrysler Canada with regard to your prior concerns. Based on our assessment of your file, it was concluded that the appropriate information had been provided in our earlier reply. Our primary objective is the satisfaction of our customers; however, pursuing this goal may not always include the full relief expected in a particular situation.
All I really wanted was, "Yes, provided that all the paperwork is in order, warranties are honored throughout North America". Why is that so difficult? There was the telephone call log, if they had printed a transcript of the call, I'd have been satisfied. We are really hoping the transmission doesn't fail again, or that we'll need any warranty work, especially anticipating the battle at the dealership just trying to get our valid warranty honored.
Because of a poorly engineered transmission, we were stranded in Seattle and incurred $3,500 CAD out-of-pocket expense for a Mopar replacement. That's bad enough, but it's the ridiculous manner in which Chrysler responded to our warranty question that is driving me to part ways with Chrysler. Though they couldn't commit to providing us with an answer to our straightforward question, I CAN commit to letting others know about our experience. I CAN commit to the avoidance of Chrysler products, forever more. And I can commit to recommending, vigorously that others do the same.
~ Update - October 2007 ~
What became of our genuine Mopar Chrysler replacement transmission? - - - It failed in 2007 after only 20,664 miles! - - - Un-freaking-believable!
Though it was well within the 35,000 mile warranty coverage, because we don't drive a lot, it had been 3 years and 4 month - four months PAST - the 3-year warranty period. (We called Chrysler, to see if they would shoulder any responsibility).
Being the upstanding, solid and customer-oriented company that they aren't, we got the response we expected. "No, we're sorry. We won't cover the failed transmission because the warranty period has passed."
Rachel pressed her case, "20,000 miles on a genuine Mopar transmission is horrible performance! Surely Chrysler will step up to the plate, given such poor performance of a genuine Mopar transmission?"
The Chrysler rep replied, "Chrysler's responsibility is only for honoring the written warranty agreement, Ma'am."
"With all due respect, I disagree. Chrysler's responsibility is to manufacture quality automobiles and stand by their products," Rachel said, before she hung up.
The value of our vehicle, which is still in superb condition (leather seats, tow package, electric everything, air conditioning, etc.) went from $3,500 to zero in a single day.
"This is, without a doubt, the worst vehicle I've ever owned," Scott said, "and I've owned a fair few of them during my 48 years."
We've hung up on Chrysler. We took what we could get for the van ($450) and have washed our hair of our crappy Chrysler car. We now caution anyone: Do not buy from Chrysler! They are a crap company that makes crap automobiles.
~ Update - March 2010 ~
It did my heart good to see that our word about Chrysler is getting out there. From Canadian Business magazine, February 15th article titled: "Winners & Losers: Who's up, who's down", they said Chrysler was a big loser.
There’s nothing big about Detroit’s Big Three automakers anymore, except the bailout GM and Chrysler received last year. U.S. sales of cars and light trucks dropped 21% last year and hardest hit was Chrysler. Thanks to a lack of new products and a reputation for poor quality, it sold just 931,000 vehicles in 2009 — its worst performance since 1962.
It's the second time that Chrysler's been bailed out by the government. I'm not sure what's worse; that Chrysler can't manage to make good cars or that the government gives money to companies who pay their executives far, far more than they should be paid and who can't run their businesses. Actually, they're both really bad.
~ Update - July 2010 ~
I ran across last year's Consumer Reports Canada magazine that focused on "Best & Worst 2009 Cars". Out of morbid curiosity, I checked to see if Chrysler had changed its crappy auto-making ways and moved up in customer satisfaction, reliability or scoring.
I laughed outloud when I read the following, regarding Chrysler:
Chrysler, which tied with Suzuki for last place in our 2008 ranking, fared even worse this year. Overall reliability of Chrysler vehicles, which was average last year, dropped to below average this year. No Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep vehicles are recommended.
In other words, Consumer Reports is saying that Chrysler sucks worse now, than last year. We don't recommend anyone buy a Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep.
Detroit's Troubles: Chrysler's grades fell to te bottom of the class, and it is the only automaker to drop from last year in all three measures. Most models from [Chrysler] have noisy, inefficient, unrefined powertrains; subpar interiors; and poor visibility. Chrysler is the only automaker with no models on our Recommended list.
If you like pictures, better than words, these two graphs tell the tale. Chrysler is a poor automaker. We've learned the hard way, with our 1993 Plymouth Grand Voyager mini-van ... as have many others. STAY AWAY FROM CHRYSLER!