They fail at taking care of their customers that is. I have a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan which recently developed a leak in the Air conditioning system. Normally this falls in the category of normal wear and tear, and the repair costs are minimal. However, in my case the repair costs are not minimal and it is not normal wear and tear. In fact, it is a fairly major design flaw and oversight on the part of Dodge.
About a month ago the Air Conditioning in my Mini Van stopped working and I took it into a shop to get fixed. The shop found that it was low on refrigerant and filled it up, the shop also added some die to detect leaks. I returned after a couple days so the shop could look for leaks, they didn’t find any so I was happy and I went on my way. Not more than 3 weeks later and the Air Conditioning stopped working again. So I took it back so they could further diagnose the problem.
After an hour I get a call that they had found a leak and they would need to replace some o-rings. The cost for this repair would be about $150, which also included filling up the refrigerant again. I thought this was reasonable and I agreed to the repair. Another hour passes and I get another call. Apparently the problem is a lot worse, they cannot get the pieces to come apart because the pipes are corroded. This means they need to break the pipes in order to remove them, and they will need to be replaced, including the rear evaporator, the costs is now $1100. This is not even the worst part, the repair shop called Dodge to order replacement parts and was told that the problem is so common that the parts are all on back order for several months. That is several months that I have to go without Air Conditioning in the middle of Summer in the hot deserts of Utah. Because of this, the shop agreed to just put everything back together and fill up the refrigerant at no cost.
So what exactly is the problem? I am not a mechanic so I will not try and explain it, but there are several others here and here that have explained it really well. This person over here found a clever work around for the problem, not perfect, but better than nothing. It is nice to know that I am not alone in my frustration with Chrysler.
The other part of the conversation that caught my attention was how the Dodge dealership admitted that this was a common problem. So common even that the parts were on back order for several months. By their own admission, this is a systemic problem that would not be considered “Normal” wear and tear.
Despite the other peoples experiences I wanted to give Chrysler a chance to make things right and either recall the parts in question, or at least help me to pay for the outrageous repair costs. I was not asking them to pay for everything, but any little bit would help. So I went to their website and sent them a nice email explaining the situation. The reply I got back was less than encouraging.
Dear Ryan: Thank you for contacting the Chrysler Customer Assistance Center regarding your 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan. We regret to read of your disappointment with the corrosion of the air conditioner and your concern regarding the repair cost involved for the same. It is always a concern when our customers are disappointed with our products or services. Kindly accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused to you. In response to your email, we would like to inform you that we do value your business and loyalty towards Chrysler products and we certainly appreciate you and your continued business with us. However, unfortunately we will not be able to provide you with any goodwill assistance since your vehicle has exceeded the time and mileage limitation of the manufacturer?s warranty. Therefore, your request for consideration of the repair cost of the air conditioner has to be respectfully declined. Although a more favorable response could not be provided, sharing your concern with us is appreciated. Thanks again for your email. We value you and your business. Sincerely, Stacy Brown Customer Service Representative Chrysler Customer Assistance Center
A lot of good their apologies will do me when I have to fork over $1100 for the repair. In addition there is no guarantee that when I get it repaired that it won’t happen again. There should be a law against automakers that have reoccurring problems.
The most ironic thing is that my father in law had a horrible experience with his own Plymouth Mini Van and warned me to stay away from Chrysler vehicles, but did I listen? nope.
So I am giving the same warning to all of you that my father in law gave me. If you are thinking about getting a Dodge or any other Chrysler vehicle, I recommend that you think twice, ask a repair shop, Dodge has one of the worst repair histories. If you have a Dodge Grand Caravan, that is still covered by a warranty, get it into a shop and have the rear evaporator checked for corrosion and leaks. This is the only way you are going to get the repairs paid for. Chrysler has clearly shown that they are not going to own up and either recall the part or offer to even pay for a portion of the repair costs. I guess there is a reason that foreign Auto makers are kicking the butts of U.S. automakers.
Contrast this to a situation my brother recently had with a Honda Accord that he bought from me. I bought the Honda in 2002 new, and when my family out grew it we sold it and bought the Dodge in 2005. A year after my brother bought the Honda it started having transmission problems, so he took it to a local shop. They fixed the transmission and sent him the bill. My brother contacted Honda and they reimbursed him the full cost of the repair.
I personally drive a 95′ Nissan 200SX that has been running like a champ for over 13 years and it has never had any major problems. The biggest thing I have had to do is replace the Dashboard because the odometer stopped working, and I has to replace the Alternator at 120,000 miles. I think I am going to stick with Nissan, Honda or Toyota for my auto needs. I am never going to buy another Dodge or Chrysler vehicle.
Now you may be thinking that this is a little harsh for something like an Air Conditioner. Well, this is not the first time that Dodge, and this van, has caused me trouble. This Van also has tire pressure sensors. When the van was under warranty I was in the shop several times to have the sensors replaced because they went bad. After the warranty expired I still had to go back a couple times and get a couple of them replaced, but I now had to start paying $150 – $200 each time. I have since started to ignore the sensors when they go bad because I don’t want to have to pay for new ones every year. I honestly think that Dodge has designed some of their parts so they will fail repeatedly because if you get them repaired this is a continuous stream of income for them. Again I think there should be a law against reoccurring problems.
The other place Dodge has frustrated me is with the rear tail light above the lift gate. About 1 year after owning the Van it got a crack in it. I took it in and the Dodge dealer refused to fix it. They claimed that it was caused by me. It was very clear that there were no impact or stress marks so I don’t know why they would not fix it. It seems like it would be something small that could lead to higher customer satisfaction.
My final words to Chrysler and Dodge are, good luck with your government welfare checks, you are going to need every penny, because with the crappy quality of your vehicles and the crappy customer service, you are not going to get any more of my money.
Anyone know how to start a class action lawsuit?
Update 7/1/09 12:45 pm:
I sent Chrysler another email. This time it had a link to this page. Shortly after I got a reply email from them.
Dear Ryan: Thank you for contacting the Chrysler Customer Assistance Center regarding your 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan. We are very sorry for the problem your having with your van and we appreciate that you decided to purchase our product We would like to keep you loyal to Dodge, so I will review the prior decision made to your other email sent to our office. Please reply back the current mileage and the servicing dealer information, along with the date of the diagnosis. If you already paid for the repair at a Dodge dealer since sending your emails, please forward your original repair order and proof of payment receipt for consideration to the address below: Chrysler Group Customer Assistance Center P.O. Box 21-8004 Auburn Hills, MI 48321-8004 OR You can fax a copy of the information for review to telephone #248-512-8748. Please note that originals may need to be mailed if required. The issue will be reviewed and you will be contacted with the response. Thanks again for your email. Sincerely, Chris Customer Service Representative Chrysler Customer Assistance Center
I appreciate Chrysler acting on this.
Update 7/14/09 12:48pm:
I took my car in for an official diagnosis and they just sent me an email report. According to them I only need to replace the rear expansion valve which should only cost $278. However, they found several other problems. They said that my Steering Gear (Rack and Pinion), and water pump need to be replaced. These repairs together will add another $1200 to the repair costs. I am going to get a second opinion from my local mechanic.
Update 7/14/09 4:30pm:
I picked up my car and talk about the problems. I told them that my mechanic also thought that just the rear expansion valve only needed to be replaced, but when he tried to remove it he could not get it off. The Dodge guys said that if that is the case the cost could go up, but they will only know when they try.
They also said that the water pump is leaking fluid and the boots on the steering are all filled with power steering fluid. I am not a mechanic so I don’t know what all that means, but he said that the water pump is the most urgent.
Update 7/15/09 8:00am:
I got a call this morning today, apparently before Chrysler can make a decision about what they are willing to pay for they need to know exactly what the problems are, so Dodge needs to actually try to remove the expansion joint.
Update 7/16/09 9:00am:
Took the van in so Dodge could try and remove the expansion joint and put on the new one. They said it should be ready by the end of the day.
Update 7/16/09 5:00pm:
When I went to pick up the car, I had a friend drop me off, dodge had some good and bad news. The good news was that they were able to remove the rear expansion valve without damaging the evaporator. The bad news is that they found pitting in the connection and they were not sure if the new one would be able to get a good seal. They said they would like to attach the new expansion valve and then pressurize it with shop air and see if the pressure held. I agreed and since they were not done they gave me a loner PT Cruiser, which is a very uncomfortable car.
Update 7/17/09 8:00am:
Dodge called with some updates, again good and bad news. The bad news is that the pressure did not hold. They actually found another leak in the evaporator its self and a third leak in another joint (I don’t remember which one). The good news is that Chrysler finally agreed to cover all the costs except for a $150 deductible. The other good news is they think they found an evaporator at a nearby dealership and they might be able to fix it next week.I told them I would need the car over the weekend and they said they could put it together for me in an hour.
Update 7/17/09 10:00am:
I went to pick up the van and they were ready for me, but they had more bad news. The other dealership did not have the evaporator like the computer said so it looks like a several month waiting list. They did say that they found an after-market evaporator and would ask Chrysler if they could use that, but they were not very hopeful. So they will call me when the part comes in.
Update 7/17/09 5:00pm:
I finally got a second opinion from my local mechanic about the water pump and the Rack and Pinion. He agreed that they needed to be replaced, but he quoted me a $1100 price. I think I will do the water pump first which is only $300.
Update 9/11/09 10:00am:
I called the dealership today to get and ETA on the Rear Evaporator. I was told they are not expecting it until the middle of December. It is frustrating that I have to wait nearly 6 months, without air conditioning, in the hottest months of the year.
Update 1/16/10 1:00pm:
It’s fixed. I called the dealer and they said they have all the parts (it’s nice that I had to do the calling) so we took the van into the dealer this morning and it all got fixed. I won’t really be able to test it until summer comes along, but I am very happy right now. Best of all they did not charge us the $150 deductible that we were told we would have to pay. I don’t know if they just forget or they were being nice. This just goes to show that persistence sometimes pays off.