Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!





Is There Really Such a Thing as a "Lemon"?

124»

Comments

  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,327
    Or, if they didn't, I'd like to think the public would be smart enough to quit buying that model, so as not to encourage the maker to keep building it!

    I think that's what always happens, but some fall for the trick of buying the same thing that goes by another name; example: Neon --> Caliber.

    Neon = junk :lemon:
    Calibre = junk :lemon:

    Conclusion = Caliber is a Neon by another name.

    Civic and Accords have been around forever. So has the Corrolla and Camry! Go figure!
  • tankbeanstankbeans Posts: 585
    The fun part about the Neon is that I have a person at work who owns a Neon along with a Cavalier. She insists that they are both vehicles from the gods and claims that they can do no wrong.

    She claims that the Neon has 200 hp at the wheel stock and that the Cavalier has 175 hp at the wheel stock. Here's the kicker the Neon apparently dumps its engine every 10-15k and I guess the fuel pressure regulator on the Cavalier drops out every three months.

    I know that not all of these maladies aren't entirely the cars' faults. She drives the s*** out of both of them thinking that they are somehow racing material. She's full of herself though so I don't put much weight behind half of what she says.

    How's that for idiotic. Also apparently she had the engine on the Neon rebuilt using a 97 top with a 95 bottom. Is this even possible?

    Signed amused and confused.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,956
    She claims that the Neon has 200 hp at the wheel stock and that the Cavalier has 175 hp at the wheel stock. Here's the kicker the Neon apparently dumps its engine every 10-15k and I guess the fuel pressure regulator on the Cavalier drops out every three months.

    There's no way either of those two are putting out that much hp, at the wheels. At the FLYwheels, maybe. And using the old gross hp rating, perhaps?

    There were some pretty hot versions of the Neon, but I think they topped out at about 200 hp, using the 2.0 4-cyl. The body design was not strong enough to handle the torque of a 2.4, which is why they just kept hopping up the 2.0. FWIW, the standard 2.0 in the Neon put out 132 hp. By the time that got to the wheels, it was probably around 90-100?

    Chevy used to have a 307 V-8 that put out 200 hp gross. When they went to the net rating system for 1972, it dropped down to 130. So, I guess it's possible that a 132 hp Neon might put out around 200 hp, gross.

    The Neon engine really wasn't changed much over the years, I don't think. Especially in the early years. So you probably could swap a lot of parts between the 1995 block and the 1997. The early ones tended to blow head gaskets, but the later models weren't too bad.
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,327
    The Neon engine really wasn't changed much over the years, I don't think. Especially in the early years. So you probably could swap a lot of parts between the 1995 block and the 1997. The early ones tended to blow head gaskets, but the later models weren't too bad.

    Actually, if you take the time to read something like user reviews and reports on 98 -2000 Neons even, (for example, MSN user reviews) there are still a TON of complaints about head gaskets blowing/leaking/failing. More common than not, and it was never solved according to the user reports and reviews.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,802
    I have NEVER been more disappointed in an American car debut than with the Neon.

    Here I thought, when it first came out in 1995 (??)

    "GREAT! Finally we have a low-cost, fun to drive little sports coupe ala the old Alfa Romeo Sprint"

    At a time when "fun" was in low supply in American cars if you didn't have a lot of money, this car was of great interest to me. I even test drove one and considered buying it.

    But alas, between some early defects, marginal (at best) dealer service) and Chrysler's winning ways with customers, the car became, at best, something you sell to rental fleets catering to budget vacations in Miami and Vegas. Not a great image and hardly a good track record.

    I'm not sure why it takes a manufacturer so many years to figure out how to keep a head gasket on an engine, but Chrysler isn't the first to fail in this regard. Renault and Saab struggled with this, as did GM's Northstar V-8.

    MODERATOR

  • tankbeanstankbeans Posts: 585
    And using the old gross hp rating, perhaps?

    Just curious, when you said gross hp rating I assume you meant before any adjustments are made for energy lost to friction, heat, etc., etc. Correct.

    If so I'm wondering my car has a published rating of 160 hp at 5500 for an 03 Accord I4. Would that be the gross rating or the net?

    I know we're supposed to be talking about junk cars, but that statement caught my eye. Some of these things are still lost on me.

    Thanks for humoring an idiot.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,956
    I have NEVER been more disappointed in an American car debut than with the Neon.

    Heck, I have to admit that I was even impressed with the Neon when it first came out, and little cars normally don't register on my radar screen. On paper it had a lot going for it...gutsy 132 hp 2.0 engine in an era where many competitors hadn't even hit 100 yet. Roomy interior that could hold four good-sized adults in comfort, on a relatively lanky 104" wheelbase. That's probably where the interior room came from, as 104" was pushing midsized back in those days. 1995 was the first model year, but they came out early, like February of 1994.

    I have to admit that once, I came close to buying a Neon. It was late 1996 and my 300,000+ mile '68 Dart died on me, while delivering pizzas. Right at a traffic light, in the rain. I almost got rear-ended by some buffoon who wasn't paying attention. Car was TOTALLY dead. Wouldn't start, no power, no lights, no nothing. I was able to push it off the road and coast for about 1/4 mile. I'd pretty much had it with that car

    Called my grandmother and asked her if she'd co-sign on a loan for me for a newer car, and I was strongly considering a '95 or so Neon, because I wanted something economical that I could still fit comfortably in. Well luckily, the Dart decided to fire up a couple hours later, and got me home. It turned out that the points had worn down so far on it that they were sticking together, and that was killing the car. I didn't realize that could kill the car totally, electrical power and all (maybe it can't, and there was something else going on), but one of my uncle's friends put new points and a condensor in for me, and the sucker ran fine after that.

    so, for like 5 bucks, I got that Dart running again, versus God-only-knows how much headache and wallet-ache a used Neon would have run me! I probably dodged a bullet with that one. :lemon:

    I know the K-car 2.2 from that era, especially with the turbo, tended to blow head gaskets, because it had an iron block and an aluminum head, and the different expansion/contraction rates of the metals as they heated and cooled would stress the gasket over time. I think the 2.0 was based on the 2.2/2.5 block...I wonder if it was an iron block, as well?

    Still, whatever the Neon's problem was, it tended to blow much quicker than the K-car 2.2/2.5. I think with the K-cars, you could usually get at least 100,000 miles out of them. My ex-wife's LeBaron Turbo blew its gasket around 115,000 miles.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,956
    Gross hp is a term that I think most people have forgotten about nowadays. I think when they measured gross hp on an engine, it had literally nothing attached. No exhaust manifold, no air cleaner assembly, no transmission, no belts and pulleys, and IIRC, not even a water pump or alternator! This is how cars were rated up through 1971.

    Starting in 1971 though, they started publishing more accurate net ratings. For this, they put on the water pump, exhaust manifolds (not sure about the whole exhaust system, though), air cleaner/filter assembly, etc. I don't think they would have tested with air conditioning or power steering though. And it still wouldn't take into account the transmission, differential (or transaxle on an FWD car) etc.

    I think for a general rough guideline, net hp tends to be about 75% of gross. So if an engine had 200 hp gross, it would probably put out around 150 net. It'll vary from engine to engine though. I think smaller engines tended to lose less hp, although another factor was that sometimes the bigger engines tended to be over-inflated. They often took great liberties with those old gross hp numbers, and they were more often the result of the imagination of the guy writing the ad copy, than actual engineering test results.

    Also, around the 1971-72 timeframe, a lot of engines had their compression ratios cut, so there was a legitimate loss in hp, along with the "paper" loss of going from gross to net. And again, I think it was mainly the bigger engines that saw the larger compression cuts, so that might have explained why they tended to lose a larger percentage.

    Now, there's another term thrown out that's called "Brake Horsepower", or "BHP". I always thought that meant they measured it at the brakes of the car, which means the transmission, differential, etc would be factored into the equation. But I think most people use BHP and Net HP interchangeably.

    I think the only way to get true hp at the wheel, is to put the car on a dyno. But then, I've also heard there's ways to fake out the dyno test so you can get it to say almost whatever hp rating you want it to.

    As for your '03 Accord with 160 hp, that would be net hp. In gross hp, I'd imagine that would be around 210-230 hp? There's really no magic formula to pin it down exactly, but it would probably be somewhere thereabouts. Heck, a lot of cars in 1971 that were rated at 250 hp gross, were down to around 160-170 net for 1972.

    Anyway, hope this makes sense!
  • tankbeanstankbeans Posts: 585
    I follow you just fine. I just know that people have told me, namely girl who thinks her neon is from god, that their is no way that my car could have 160 hp and that the V6 Accord could have 270, for the current year.

    She even told me that I needed a better car because mine wasn't as fast as hers. Phht.

    Anyway thanks for clearing things up, or at least trying to explain things to me.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,162
    What? I never heard of a head gasket failure on a Northstar and I've had two cars with that particular engine. I've heard of a problem with an oil leak on the earlier Northstars with the lower crankcase seal - a $44 part.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,802
    Oh yeah, fairly common fault on Northstars. Here's a Northstar expert who describes the issues involved:

    Northstar Head Gasket Issues

    Also cylinder head studs can pull.

    Biggest problem with the Northstar is that very few rebuilders will rebuild them. Even Cadillac won't.

    MODERATOR

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,162
    What years are affected?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,802
    Well we'd have to presume at least up until 2003 since this alleged expert on Northstars also lists the Olds Aurora, but otherwise I don't know. It could still be going on.

    MODERATOR

  • corvettecorvette United StatesPosts: 4,108
    IIRC, Cadillac made some design changes in 2001 (I think) that made head gasket failure much less likely (although not unheard of).
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,327
    have never been an issue in all the Japanese and German cars I've known, experienced, heard of, talked about.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,802
    Oh yeah, even German and Japanese cars have had issues. Subaru 2.5 engines are susceptible to defective head gaskets and of course the VW/Audi 1.8 turbo has been known to sludge up the engine oil and then overheat and blow the gasket. But these are somewhat older cars, not brand new ones.

    MODERATOR

  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,327
    Hmmmm... if the VW 1.8 turbo overheated and blew head gaskets, wouldn't the driver of one of those 1.8's see his temperature gauge rise and overheat before the gasket blows, or did the temperature gauge not catch this "overheating" issue?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,802
    It was sneaky.

    Truth be known, on a modern car, by the time the needle hits the red, you're already toast. These alloy heads warp on the snap of a finger. They aren't Chevy 350 iron blocks, that's for sure.

    I think it was Audi (please correct me if I'm wrong here) that installed an AUDIBLE overheat alarm at some point.

    An ear-splitting shriek would be more like it.

    MODERATOR

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,956
    I know someone who had a 1994 Honda Civic that blew its head gasket twice. I think the first time was covered under warranty and the second time was around 80-90,000 miles, and that's when they got rid of it.

    But then I knew someone else who had a 1992 Civic and ran the hell out of it. Mostly highway driving so the brakes lasted forever, but he'd still find ways to dog it. The engine was on its last legs by around 180,000 miles, when he got into a minor accident with it. The mechanic said that, with the condition the engine was in, it wasn't worth putting any money in it to fix it, so I think it got junked.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    V-6 4Runners and pick-ups, later Tacomas. TERRIBLE head gasket problems, Toyota had to extend the warranty on them and you won't find one running around today with its original head gasket. That was a pervasive problem with that engine.

    And as shifty mentioned, up until at least 2001 or so, the Subaru 2.5 had fairly systemic problems with head gaskets.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,802
    Oh Yeah, I forgot about the 4Runners. They had a very serious issue with head gaskets.

    But all these cars come with a fix--you install the improved gaskets and you have a good car again, or in the case of the Northstar, new head studs, etc.

    MODERATOR

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,956
    that some cars, when the head gasket blows, you can just put in a better gasket and then you're on your way again? While others, like the Ford 3.8 "Essex" engine, when the gasket blew, you were basically looking at a $5,000+ repair?

    Or is it really more of a luck of the draw type of thing? Perhaps in some cases, the gasket might get caught before it's totally failed, and then it's a minor repair, but if it blows out at 80 mph on the highway, your engine is toast?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    That reminds me of the closest car I ever had to being a lemon. It was a 1973 Subaru. With about 3k miles on it a head gasket blew. I took it to the dealer in Anchorage. There was a NINE WEEK wait to get into the service department. I needed the car fixed so I pulled the engine as it looked like the VW engines I had done a lot of work on. Replaced the defective head gasket. Within a week the other side blew. I learned my lesson about just doing one side on that POC. The real kicker was the dealer would not even warranty the parts. Cost me a $100 a side. They must have had a lot of failures as they had the parts in stock. The tires on that car were also very poor. Had two blow out in the first year. We lived up a long hill. When it would have 3-4 inches of snow that Subaru would pop out of 2nd gear trying to climb in snow. I swore I would never buy another front wheel drive car with that experience. I never looked at another Subaru for 20 years. The Dealer in Anchorage was the worst part of the experience. They were also the Saab dealer and gave the same horrible service. Blown head gaskets reminded me of that terrible little car.
  • corvettecorvette United StatesPosts: 4,108
    I think it was Audi (please correct me if I'm wrong here) that installed an AUDIBLE overheat alarm at some point.

    Late model VW/Audi cars all have a warning shriek that will go off when the low fuel warning comes on. I assume it will go off for an overheat, as well. Nearly scared the crap of me the first time I experienced it!
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    This sort of reminds me of something Shifty mentioned way back at the beginning - that a bad dealer can make a car that's not really a lemon INTO a lemon, or at least seem like one, through poor service.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,956
    a bad dealer can make a car that's not really a lemon INTO a lemon, or at least seem like one, through poor service.

    They certainly can. Awhile back, my uncle's '97 Silverado had to go back to the dealer for transmission work. I forget how many miles it had on it, but remember it was out of the factory warranty, but covered by an extended warranty he had purchased. They had that truck damn near a month, getting it fixed!

    I bought my Intrepid from the same dealer. Around the 87000 miles or so, the oil pressure light started coming on. It would only do it at low rpms, one fully warmed up, in situations like idling at a traffic light. Well, my '67 Catalina used to do the same thing, and I pretty much "solved" the problem by just bumping up the idle a bit and putting in a heavier weight oil, at my mechanic's recommendation. Probably not a good idea to just throw thicker oil in a modern engine, though!

    Well, it took the dealer three tries to fix that sucker. And the third time I took it back, I had found a TSB on just that problem, and printed it out for them.

    I was down at that dealer for something else awhile later, and was chatting with the guy that sold me the car. Another salesman, a younger guy, was standing there with us. I had mentioned how it took them 3 tries to get the Intrepid fixed. My salesguy just gave me a sad look, and indicated that their repair shop was starting to get a bad reputation. Meanwhile the young guy just blurts out "Yeah, our repair shop SUCKS!!"

    They may be better nowadays, though. I think customer service sort of comes and goes in cycles. If it gets bad enough to hurt them financially, they'll wake up and take steps to improve it, but once they're riding high again, it can be easy to just slack off again.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,802
    Well of course, some cars are better than others right out of the box, and some are worse. No arguing that!

    Early Subarus were crappy cars, it's true, but by the standards of the 1970s, they weren't as bad as they look to us now.

    Part of a good dealer network, supported by the factory, is to identify defects in new models and get out the fixes for them ASAP.

    What makes people think they have a "lemon" (aka a TOTALLY defective, cursed, hopeless car) is more often that not the failure of the factory and the dealer to rectify what is truly rectifiable.

    In a way, a tale of woe about a "lemon" is really a mystery waiting to be solved.

    What caused repeated failures of the same component?

    How good is the dealer?

    How good is the owner?

    How good was the engineer who designed this part?

    It's quite fascinating, really, to go from generalizations to the "real" causes.

    Sometimes I guess one never really gets to the truth of the matter.

    MODERATOR

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    Early Subarus were crappy cars, it's true, but by the standards of the 1970s, they weren't as bad as they look to us now.

    I was rating it by the Datsun PU truck I also owned at the same time. It was NEVER in the shop the whole time I owned it. I sold it for $400 less than I bought it for new 6 years earlier. So I had a benchmark that I expected other Japanese vehicles to live up to. Unfortunately that 1970 Datsun must have been their peak year as the 1976 I bought to replace it was not as good of a truck. I mainly steered clear of Subaru because of the Anchorage dealer. I think they were tops in sales for the US. They were bottom in service. I think Subaru sells good because it is a cheap AWD. With an emphasis on CHEAP.
124»
This discussion has been closed.