Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Just When I Thought It Was Over

June 2009

And Pontiac wonders why it is going under.

I did finally get reimbursed for the charges that weren't supposed to be billed to me. The car was fixed, the money returned, and all was well.

Except that I kept getting recall notices for the same problem. I finally decided to end the needless death of trees on my behalf and took the time to call the latest dealer indicating it was time for me to come in and have the window bolts replaced. I explained the work had been done at [my home town dealer]. I was quickly informed I needed to contact it.

So I did.

'We'll get back to you.' the faceless entity on the other end informed me. It hung up...without asking for any contact information.

Buy anything else but don't buy Pontiac.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Screw Replacements

An excerpt from the letter I sent today to Pontiac Customer Service:

"Ms. M____;

I am writing for clarification. Enclosed you will find copies of documents involving repair work regarding the recall of Pontiac Vibes due to loose bolts shattering the driver’s side window when raised or lowered. The recall notice card clearly states the repair was to be done at no charge to the owner. The Shelton Pontiac Service Department informed me that there was a warranty block on my Vibe and that I would have to pay for repairs. I was informed that there was a high probability of my window shattering again and future repairs could run between $400-$500. Feeling I had little choice, I had the repairs made.

My question is as follows: Should repairs have been done at no charge regardless of warranty (as there has been no mention of warranty problems prior to this repair); or, was I mislead into thinking Pontiac was trying to rectify a situation at zero cost to the consumer and instead taken for $103.24?"

I received the repair notice postcard on a Monday and immediately set up an appointment to have the dangerous, window shattering bolts repaired. Remember, Pontiac had reimbursed me in full for the window replacement work I had done at Henderson Glass. I assumed this was going to be the final chapter in the whole sordid affair.

However, after getting assurances that the repairs would, indeed, be free of charge for me as it was part of a recall, that I should bring the car in and the matter would be closed. I dropped the Vibe off at the dealership at 7:30 a.m., once again assured that the repairs would be at no cost to me and it would be done before lunch.

At 1:30 pm the service department called informing me that there was a warranty block on my Vibe and the repairs would be $92. I argued that the postcard and the representitive on the phone assured me that there was going to be zero cost to me.

"Yeah, but there's a warranty block on your car." The service rep seemed to be reading from a cue card.

I asked why this wasn't brought up before when I had made the appointment and given the first rep the VIN number.

"We discovered the warranty block--"

"I understand. I know the car was salvaged. Why didn't you know this prior to my making the appointment? If I had known this, I would have said, 'Screw it. I'll take my chances.' I drove it for four years before the glass shattered the first time."

"Yeah, well, you don't want to run the risk of it happening again. It could wind up costing you, I don't know. $400 to $500."

"Fine. Do it."

I was clearly not going to get any where with the service guys. They're given a line, I tried to cross it, and they rebuffed my advances. I keep documents on everything so I scanned copies and sent them off to Ms M____ along with the letter I mentioned earlier.

As of now, the only thing I've learned is that 'assured' seems to mean 'Ass U R, Ed.'

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


On Saturday I got a letter from Pontiac telling me that the Ought-three Vibes were being recalled due to a problem in the window well on the driver's side. It seems lowering or raising the driver's window created a clicking sound that was usually followed by shattering glass or a window falling off track due to the loosening of bolts within the door. COMPLETE REIMBURSEMENT FOR REPAIRS PENDING!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cracked What-Ya-Call It

When did this even happen?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Duct Taping at 80 MPH

We were cruising at about 80 mph on our way down-state after having visited the casinos of northern Michigan when we heard the explosive bang outside the passenger window. Panooch instinctively covered his head, wrapping his arms around it and screaming, "Jesus, Snakeface, I think we've been shot!" I laughed uneasily, one of those laughs that is at first hearty and then settles into trepidation with an uneasy sigh at the end. My fingers clutched the steering wheel in the ten and two positions as I braced for the wobble in the front end and the vibration of the steering column from the flat tire. Several moments (and a steadier than usual steering wheel for the Vibe) later, I told Panooch I didn't think it was a flat.

"Then what was it," he asked.

I shook my head.

"Do you hear that?" Panooch lowered his window. Outside the car came a soft 'whup-whup-whup.' "What is that?"

I shrugged. "It's not the tire. So let's get rolling." My foot pressed heavily on the accelorator. "We have a lot of miles to cover and-"


Panooch and I looked at each other cautiously. We were a good fifteen miles from where we had first heard the noise and there was no one else on south bound M27 outside Harrison. I eased the Vibe to the shoulder and we go out.

Some models of the Vibe have a molded plastic trim that is held into place with plastic rivits. Others do not. Those that don't have quarter panels that are molded to look decorative. My Ought-three has the plastic trim. Apparently, as aerodynamics go, the lift of the wind sliding alongside the passenger front quarter panel placed just enough pressure under a hair-width's gap to rip the rivits out of their housings and cause the C-shaped black plastic trim to fold violently back and strike the side of the car with enough force to dent it.

We rolled into Clare and stopped at service center where I picked up a roll of duct tape and we took it out to the car. Luckily, the Ought-three is gray and the duct tape was gray so it kind camoflauged the problem. The gray tape stayed on until fall when I replaced it with invisible duct tape that has lasted through a Michigan winter.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


From the Detroit Free Press, Feb. 22, 2008, Business Section:

"General Motors Corp.'s Pontiac Vibe sport wagon and Toyota Motor Corp.'s

About a year ago while on my way to work, I stopped at a neighborhood ATM to get money for the week. I noticed my driver's window tipped forward at an odd angle as it slid beneath the rubber weather proofing trim. A small hump remained above the rim while I worked the keypad and waited for my money. It was still chilly in the morning at that time. A cool drizzle of rain fell. I got my money, put my card in my wallet, adjusted, and went to raised the window.

The glass clicked and sort of popped up then fell. A few seconds later it rose like a jigsaw puzzle piece turned sideways and forced into the wrong slot. I lowered it, heard ugly noises from inside the door, like the gnarled finger nails of gremlins sliding over old fashion chalkboards. I stopped, and raised it quickly. The window seemed to have fallen almost back into its path, but there were still gaps. I placed my palm on the glass to try and help it into place when it broke into a million little pieces and some large pieces that resembled aquamarine peanut brittle.

I went into to work and was reminded by several co-workers of the rain outside and my open window. I told them it was age, that I was forgetting things more and more. My plan was to hit the glazier immediately after work and have it fixed.

That plan almost worked.

I got to the glass company just in time to hear them say it would be forty-eight hours until the shipment would arrive. For two days I drove with an open window, leaning away from puddle splash and keeping the heater cranked in the morning. Once at work, an over sized, industrial strength plastic garbage bag was closed inside the door and duct-taped to the frame. I couldn't keep the secret. I mean, anyone who parked in the same lot as me already saw the cock-eyed front end, the peeling paint, the fossilized remants of a ribbon magnent burned into the hood of the Vibe. The gas-door had long ago ejected itself at a Speedway gas station, too ashamed to remain a part of the Aught-three. It was as if my car were trying to cut itself free of the whole, bit by bit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

2003 Vibe

I bought the 2003 Vibe, used, from a young German couple who had recently moved to this country. They needed cash to finance a fledgling business and I needed a car. "Gretchen," petite and perky with a seductive smile, greeted me when we arrived to inspect the car. "Carl," her fiance, was away on business, she said. I took it for a test a drive and noticed a couple of things: The car pulled left when breaking, there was a vibration in the steering wheel, the air conditioning got warmer when the car came to a stop. Little things I knew could be corrected, especially since the Vibe's warranty followed whoever held the title.

Except for one little blip in the fine print.

I made an appointment at the local Pontiac dealer to have the early problems looked into. About an hour after I dropped it off, the head mechanic came looking for me and asked me what color title I had. I told him it was orange and he told me that meant the car had been salvaged.

I turned several shades of a primary color that, when mixed with yellow, became orange. I told the mechanic I had asked my wife if the state was issuing new titles when I first got it in the mail. No one I asked had ever dealt with a salvaged car. To everyone concerned, it was a new look for a new millennium. Unfortunately, it was an old method of issuing a title for a car that had seen better days.

So instead of having a creased AC coil and the wheels balanced for free, it was going to cost me. I drove it away from the dealer and took it to a local mechanic who I knew to be fair on price and trustworthy on service. I told him the story and he of coursed, squinted his right eye, cocked his head, clicked his tongue off the roof of his mouth, and laughed.

Reluctant to confront the heavy accented couple because I was never clear on what the business was they were attempting to run, and still in need of a car, I kept the Vibe. I liked the way it smelled inside it, at first deluding myself it was the linger scent of Gretchen's perfume; I discovered later it was an air freshener from a spritz bottle. Anyhow, Vibe's do get great mileage. I've kept a running journal of it since I first got the car. I will soon be posting the entries from it. I will also be sharing the further adventures of the Aught-Three Vibe.