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(RANT!) - The Trouble With GM (Long!)


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With all the publicity about the Cash for Clunkers, plus the general plight of GM, alarms telling me to at least look for a new car keep going off in my head. This is patently ridiculous as I currently have: 2001 Impala with 48,000 miles; 2000 Tahoe with 72,000 miles; '92 Park Avenue with 98,000 miles (my Dad's that I recently inherited, always garaged); '88 Olds Firenza with 98,000 miles; and '70 Cutlass Supreme convertible (who knows actual mileage!). Nonetheless, a little voice keeps telling me that I might get a good deal. So...

First go-around, a few months ago... old Tahoe for new Tahoe... none of the dealers within 250 miles of here have a 1LS Tahoe (the base vehicle, which has everything I want and pretty much nothing I don't want) in stock at all... let alone in maroon or another red color. Plus, I hate most of the Chevrolet dealers around here (Washington DC area) anyway, for one reason or another. So, rant 1, the dealers suck and many of them have alienated customers (me) and do not know how to order cars for stock. (GMC Yukon, same story, by the way. And two of the best GMC dealers around here are gone, including Covington Buick Pontiac GMC, which closed a couple of years ago in anticipation of all this.)

Round 2: Well, let's try a TrailBlazer/Envoy. First of all, they stopped making them altogether, so you can't order one. But I also discovered that for the most part they came with a 6-cylinder engine, with the exception of the SS model. That has a 6.0 liter V8, too big... why not the 5.3? I'd like to be able to do occasional towing with it and I want a V8 - I don't think the 6 would have enough @$$, but I don't want the super sport with all its drek. baah.

Three months pass... alarms go off again... Buick LaCrosse or Lucerne. Buick website is slow to load, full of website glitz like little flash movies, dropdowns, etc, but the actual information contained about the cars is sketchy, so it's a PITA. Also, incredibly, no color chips are shown! Speaking of color, I had discovered earlier that the only shade of red available costs $300 extra! $300 for _paint_? I don't think so! And finally, to add insult to injury, the car locater doesn't work and hasn't for at least three days -

No wonder they're on the ropes - if they've managed to p!$$ off a loyal customer who has driven GM cars exclusively since 1966 through thick and thin, and who has been a car enthusiast since the age of 4, what is the reaction of the general public?! Especially those who might have tried a GM car during the 1980s when they had such drivability problems...

Well, I can tell you this: I work at a community college. In our department we have many student aides who work for us. All of them know that I'm an auto enthusiast, and many of them come to me for advice about purchasing cars... none of them will even look at a GM car.

The significant other drives a 2004 Regal and carpools with 3 other women (Saab convertible, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Matrix). The Sentra is uncomfortable and both it and the Matrix are underpowered... with the 4 gals in the Toyota or Nissan, they can't turn on the air conditioning in either of them until the car gets up to highway speed (none of these ladies are fat, by the way!). I don't believe I even need to comment on the Saab; I think I can leave it and its idiosyncrasies<link rel="File-List" href="file:///C:%5CDOCUME%7E1%5CDoug%5CLOCALS%7E1%5CTemp%5Cmsohtml1%5C01%5Cclip_filelist.xml"><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><style> <!-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Arial; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> </style><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} </style> <![endif]--> to your collective imagination. The three get in that Buick and rave about how comfortable it is, how nicely it rides and how the A/C cools it right down in the summer. In the winter, they have fights over who gets to ride home in the shotgun seat - all of them do physical work as gardeners or other types of work for the local park commission, and they can't wait to sit down in that heated seat and be soothed after a hard day. But _none_ of the three of them would consider a GM car (ie CCBOP, or now only CCBP, or CCB)... let's face it, Claire's Saab is a Saab and not a mainstream GM car.

So - who is going to buy a GM car, from what dealers they have left?

And here's another puzzler... as nearly as I can tell, Chrysler Corp (or whatever it's called) has closed _every one_ of the dealers that they had in Montgomery County, where I live... how are they going to sell cars if there's no place to buy them, assuming that someone wants to buy one?

By the way, I'd buy a Challenger over a Camaro!

So, to return to the beginning, the Tahoe is going to get new rear discs, pads, and backing plates (that have rusted out!); the Park Avenue will get a new water pump, the Firenza will get whatever it needs to pass emissions (probably just an EGR valve) and have its air conditioner recharged. The Impala and the Cutlass convertible don't need anything at the moment, and the five of them won't get a new Tahoe, Trailblazer, LaCrosse or Lucerne as a stablemate.

Well, that's it for me. Sorry to bend your ears and eyes, and thanks for the bandwidth. I'd love to hear your comments - I'm sure somebody will have something to say!

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Guest bkazmer

Unless it's an old one, the Saab is a Saab in name only, heavily based on a very mainstream Opel. The "quirks" carried over like the key in the console and a decent instrument panel can be fairly credited to Saab, but not a lot else.

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It sounds more like a problem with dealers, not GM. That is unfortunate when that happens, but are you sure you would experience zero problems with dealers of foreign cars? If the dealers are that much of a problem, have you tried complaining to GM?

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Dealers try to order cars and trucks that fit their market. If your choices are not similar to most other people in your area, you will have trouble finding what you want.

For example, personally, I tend to like 'hard loaded' cars, or in other words, with virtually every option you can get on them. When I lived in Chicago, virtually all dealers tended to order their cars this way to appeal to what seemed to be a market of buyers with plenty of disposable income and a willingness to spend it.

San Antonio, where I live now, is just the opposite. Dealers order their cars as CHEAP as they can. The average income is much lower here, and it shows on dealer lots. So finding a car that I like is much harder to do here.

The solution may be to go outside your local area. There are search engines on many car sites that will allow you to build the car exactly the way you want it, then shop for it, even nationwide if you like.

If you find exactly what you want, you can go to that brand of dealer in your area and ask him to dealer trade for it. If he is unwilling, you may have to negotiate with an out-of-town dealer for it, and drive or fly to get it, but you can find it.


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