I’ve always been happy with foreign cars. Some people have an intense aversion to foreign cars, either because of some perceived threat to American jobs, or a sense of foreign inferiority. I’ve only ever owned foreign cars. My first one was a Mazda GLC, which should have been called a Mazda POS, because that’s what it was. It was purchased from a “friend” of the family. The car had a sense of when it was more than thirty miles from the house, because that’s where it would break down. The thing got a new “carburetor kit” more often than it got an oil change. But, chalk it up to buying a used car…
My next one was a Mitsubishi pick-up truck. That thing lasted for years. I think we had it about fifteen, maybe more. It was a no-frills, no A/C, no power steering, manual shift lumbering rattling ton of fun. Sure, it was hot and tough to drive at slow speeds, but the damn thing wouldn’t tear up. However, it did require the occasional sacrifice. Two deer, a Dalmatian, a goose, and numerous squirrels met their ends on the front and sides of that truck. Sure, the bumper was bent, and the plastic grill held together with some industrial glue, but the thing kept right on going. It dumped me once when the timing belt skipped, but it was at 150,000 miles, and a persistent drippy front oil seal had something to do with it.
Then came two Toyotas, a Corolla, which although smaller than the truck was fun for a while. A camry was next. Both cars lasted well past their finance dates. The corolla’s alternator crapped out after seven years, and then puked up a fuel pump relay, both relatively cheap fixes. The Camry is still going eight years later, with only a leaky power steering hose after 145,000 miles. Fixed for $20, including a new bottle of fluid.
Then I bought the 2011 Honda CRV. I was very proud of it. Not only is it a foreign car, but unlike my Toyota (which was made in Tenessee), it was actually make in Somedamnwhere Japan. Yeah, I know, the CRV is a girl car. It’s cute, like a tiny mini van without the Soccer Mom stigma. Nothing says “douchebag” quite like rolling up somewhere and that side door goes sliding open and all the kids pile out. I think I’d rather ride a moped.
But any way – I was very happy with my purchase the first two years, until a slight buzzing began to emanate from under the dash, varying in pitch with the power applied to the A/C. The nice people at Honda said, “Your cabin fan bearing is bad. It’s going to be $160 to fix.” Seriously? I’ve driven literally over a million miles in varying makes of cars. I’ve NEVER had a cabin fan blow a bearing. I figured I would change it out during my next oil change. Thank you very much.
I didn’t make the next oil change – The car is 2.5 years old, and thanks to an active lifestyle (in the sense of we drive a LOT, all over the place, for the most part as a family we are a bunch of couch potatoes) we have over 50,000 miles on the car. On warm day a few weeks ago, I noticed the A/C didn’t seem to be cooling us off. I took the car back to Honda. The trouble? The Evaporator Coil is leaking. For those of you not versed in air conditioning repair, the evaporator coil is like a little radiator. It helps take the hot air out of the inside, and put it outside. It has a lot of pipes and solder joints and connections. Typically, air conditioning manufacturers are VERY proud of their coils, in the sense that they are priced like they are made of Gold, not copper.
Add to it the fact that they have to replace the “expansion valve”, which seems to exist to exapnd the cost of repairs, and some other related filter thing, all to the tune of $550. That’s not even the fun part. The labor for this event runs around $700, as they have to take the front bumper off.
On a car that’s less than three years old.
I can only guess that the Japanese have been buying parts from union labor companies. Needless to say, I voiced a strong opinion to Honda that my next car will come from down the street. Two toyotas with a combined 12 years under their hoods didn’t cost me that much in repairs. A/C systems seem to be a weak link in the CRV line, with MANY complaints over the years, something I didn’t know about pre-purchase.
I like the looks of the Rav-4. Hopefully Toyota won’t screw it up before it’s time to trade in the Honda.
So – I wrote Honda of America in California and expressed my displeasure with their shoddy parts. I got a phone call from “Unknown” today, who actually seemed to speak decent English and sympathize with my plight. Hopefully they can do something, but I’m not holding my breath too long. I don’t mind paying the labor, after all, I’m not under warranty, but for a coil to fail this soon is just silly. I’m tempted to get out the soldering iron and see if I can fix it… How hard should it be to pressurize the thing and stick it in some water like an old inner tube? They always want to replace these things, never try to fix them. I guess they couldn’t sell new ones if they did that…