Earlier this year, I purchased a 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge with around 32,000 miles on it.
I was looking at cars, but thinking like a Mini Cooper or even a Ford Mustang (something to satisfy my inner teen). A Fiat wasn’t even in the running, but my wife spotted a little green metalic one on a lot we were going to walk right past after going to International Mini and being completely ignored. Snooty Bastards. What? We didn’t wear cashmire or designer label clothes?
We walked over to look at it. It was small and cute. I really only need a fuel-efficient car for commuting to work. The salesman came out, showed it to us, and let us take it for a drive. No pressure. The car literally sold itself.
I was very pleased and wrote a good review on their Facebook page (and read a lot of complaints).
Well, I took Gina in for her first oil change (I thought the Fiat had an idiot light like our Chevy that would tell us when to service it, but I guess not). I also had them do a 30k or 40k checkup and asked them to see if they could figure out this weird hesitation the car has on really cold mornings.
I turn the key and nothing happens for two or three seconds — as if the entire electrical system is dead — then it’s like the car goes, “Oh! You wanted me to start?” and then it fires up.
I left it there, went home, and then got a call back. “When was this serviced last?”
I assumed at the dealership before they sold it. Isn’t that what reputable dealers do: a multi-point inspection to make sure the car is roadworthy before they put it out for sale?
“We found a few issues. A bracket [I don’t recall which one he said, see first picture] is just hanging loose. No one attached it back after whatever work was done. Also, the cover to the timing chain is on wrong. It wasn’t bolted on correctly. And lastly, when we took off the bottom engine guard to drain the oil, a heavy piece of angled iron fell out (see second picture). Did you ever hear any rattling?”
No. I never heard any rattling.
“We ran the diagnostics but haven’t figured out the starting issue. We’ll keep looking, but your PCV valve is bad. We ordered a new one and it’ll get here tomorrow.”
Here is that unattached bracket:
And here is that chunk of metal:
So my $20 oil change turned into a $500 nightmare.
I’m angry and completely disenchanted with mankind (as if TheRump’s election hadn’t already put me over that edge).
How the flock can a dealership, even one that isn’t actually a dealership (they don’t service cars or back what they sell with maintenance plans, there primary business is business leasing of vehicles and selling those leased vehicles after they are turned in, as well as an occasional trade-in). I knew from the start that once I drove it off the lot I was on my own. (But I figured, what kind of problems could I have with a 4-year-old car that averaged only 7,500 miles per year? Especially since we were unloading a car that when we bought it was 6 years old and had averaged 16,000+ miles per year.)
I at least expected the car to be in running shape! That they’d at least do a thorough once over to make sure everything was mechanically sound, at the very least give it an oil change.
But it doesn’t appear they even did that much. Or if they did, the mechanic then put the iron piece back in the engine guard when he was done!
The mind boggles! And I’m composing a very strongly worded letter of disappointment, with the pictures my mechanic texted me, along with the invoice to fix those issues, to the owner of the business.
I’m debating if I should attach the letter to the iron piece and throw it through their window.
I got Gina back and she seems to drive much better. It might be my imagination, or it could be that she desperately needed an oil change. Or the new PCV valve makes that much of a difference. (They did change spark plugs and air filters, as well.)
Maybe those incorrectly attached brace and cover were important. Or possibly that iron piece was weighing her down.
As a sidenote: My Fiat 500’s rear headrests were missing when I purchased it. I was looking to buy some to replacements. When my wife was looking to replace her car, we stopped at a Fiat dealership to test drive a Fiat 500X.
I asked the salesman about buying replacement headrests for my car.
“What happened to yours?”
It didn’t have any when I bought it.
He looked aghast. “Those are considered safety equipment. They aren’t just headrests, but are head restraints. You can’t legally sell a car in Wisconsin without head restraints. I’d go back and tell them that.”
Well, I emailed them instead. I said since they are required safety equipment that they should provide them for me. The salesman emailed me back. He’d check with the previous owner and he’d email me back. Basically, “don’t call us, we’ll call you.” And I kept meaning to follow up, but haven’t yet. I’ll add that issue to my letter of complaint.
What ever happened to good, reliable customer service?