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Maintenance/Warranty Problem and Customer Service Nightmare!

I posted this under the dealership reviews, but thought I would repost here in case anyone has advice. Thanks!

I have a major safety concern with my 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT, which is still under warranty. Recently, when I was pulling into the alley near my house, the oil pressure light went on and the steering stiffened up to the point that I could not complete my turn. I turned off the vehicle, restarted it, and it seemed to work fine. However, the incident was scary, so I didn't drive it again and had it towed to this dealership the next day. I was concerned that this jarring event might be related to two previous problems:

1) a power steering fluid leak (which was fixed) and associated noises in the steering system (which were supposedly fixed twice but never went away)

AND

2) the car consumes up to 2.5 quarts of oil between oil changes (3000 miles), which Chrysler has refused to fix because they say that it is normal for their vehicles. (Prospective Dodge/Chrysler Buyers Beware!!!)

I contacted Chrysler customer service about the latest problem, highlighting the evident safety concerns, and over the course of about 12 days, they progressively offered the following steps of action:

-they encouraged me to take the car to a dealership, and promised that the problem would be examined by one of their STAR teams if the dealership couldn't find anything wrong.

-they promised to notify the "district manager" who would order a special inspection by the dealership.

-they promised to contact the "regional business manager" who would find a solution.

-after 11 days, they informed me that my only option was to go through the dealership, or to start the process again at another dealership. Russ Darrow (who had the car for 12 days) then promptly refused to investigate the problem further and insisted that I pick up my van, which I did last week.

Over the 12 days that they had my van, Russ Darrow worked very hard to deny that there was any problem, repeating over and over again that they could not "replicate it". I know this is the typical dealer runaround when dealing with warranty problems. However, it was evident from my conversations with Chrysler that the dealership was actively discouraging the company from taking any action. On every occasion that the Chrysler customer service agents put me on hold to speak with the dealer (to assess the situation, see about offering me a loaner vehicle, etc.) they returned to the line with a dismissive attitude toward my problem. They stopped short of actually calling me a liar, but that was the implication.

In addition, Russ Darrow repeatedly displayed a careless and flippant attitude toward my very serious safety concern. I provided the dealership with a copy of my service records and a one-page document that outlined previous problems/complaints, but the Russ Darrow representative never read it, even though I mentioned it to him on multiples occasions. When I picked up the vehicle, the service order record did not even accurately describe my problem, even though it was communicated in exacting detail to the dealership service representative on multiple occasions . The form simply said that the oil light comes on occasionally and that there is an occasional loss of power steering. There was no mention that the events occurred simultaneously, nor of the fact that the loss in steering control felt more severe than simply a "loss of power steering"

Compounding this outright negligence, the Russ Darrow service representative repeatedly told me that I would need to gather more data on the problem when it recurred (such as telling him what the weather was like, which incidentally, I was able to do for the first incident!) In other words, they ignored the data that I did provide, and then told me that they would need additional data before being able to fix the problem. When I mentioned the obvious safety risk for my wife and four small children, the Russ Darrow representative suggested that I drive the car by myself and keep a log of problems. (It is my family's only vehicle, only two years old, and under warranty) Apparently, an accident that would leave my children fatherless rather than dead is an acceptable solution for Russ Darrow Milwaukee.

In addition, during my last call with Chrysler customer service, the representative confirmed that the company had communicated multiple orders to the dealership regarding the aforementioned STAR team intervention and inspection. On multiple occasions, the Russ Darrow service representative denied that any communication had taken place.

Before giving up on the dealership, I searched the Edmunds.com forums for information that might be relevant to my vehicle's condition. I found enough information to suggest that the ongoing steering problems (leaks and noises) are endemic to this model of minivan (and therefore, it was probably easily identifiable to the dealership just based on my description). I copied the relevant reports from the Edmunds forums directly into an email that I sent to the dealership. The manager responded by closing out my account and leaving the car keys with the cashier for me to pick up.

The final verdict is hard to determine. Did the dealer sabotage my efforts at customer service with Chrysler? Did Chrysler and the dealership play me off of each other to avoid resolving the problem? In the end, I explicitly mentioned to the Chrysler customer service agent that any accident resulting from this problem would clearly result in legal damages much greater than whatever it would cost to ensure my safety. They openly said that they were willing to accept that risk.

I do feel that if Russ Darrow had taken my complaint seriously and been an advocate on my behalf, the situation might have been resolved acceptably. Instead, after 13 days without my car, I'm still forced to drive around with no clear answers. Their negligence certainly goes beyond the ordinary sleaziness that one encounters with car dealerships.

Readers! When deciding where to buy or service your vehicle, I hope you will remember Russ Darrow's callous and negligent attitude toward my family's safety.

Comments

  • kaki25kaki25 Posts: 1
    I bought a new Town & Country in 2005. I took it back to the dealership after the first few days, telling them there was something wrong with the brakes. I was told it was just brake dust because they were new. I had to have brake pads, calipers, and rotors before 6000 miles. This happened again before 11000 miles and again at 15000. The car was a lemon so I traded it for the 2006 Grand Caravan SXT. Like you the power steering motor went out and I had to have it replaced. Lucky for us it was still under warrenty.
    Last week while picking up supplies for our pool I ran into a gentleman who told me he had the same problem with his power steering pump. He also told me how his power door cannot be used, the cheap plastic chain broke and it is almost $300 to fix. I had the same problem with my door. When I press the button to close the door it would shut part of the way then re-open. I found out when it did this it was due to the plastic chain, it was being smashed my the door. I took it to my Chrysler dealer and it will be $259.98 to repair. Chrysler should have placed a guard on these chains to keep them in place, on a track, something. And to pay almost $300 to get this piece of cheap plastic fixed is rediculous. I think there is several issues with these van's that Chrysler needs to address. I won't buy another Chrysler!
  • I too have a2006 Grand Caravan SXT. I have been having troubles one right after another with it! It all started with the tires on the van. I got a total of 12000 miles on the tires and they were beyond worn out! I went to the dealership and they told me that there was a radial pull and there was nothing they could do except replace the tires. $849 later I had new tires. Then I had issues with the steering whinning. Never found out what was causing it...the machanic claimed "it is normal"! This summer my A/C went out. After complaining to Diamler Chrystler enough they picked up the bill. Three people in my neighborhood have the same van plus one of my friends......all four of them lost their A/C around 45000 miles!!!! The passenger side sliding door started letting too much road noise in. Took it to the dealer and spent $179 to get a new rubber strip put on the door. That same day the door would not close when I pressed the buttons. Called the dealer, they still can't figure out why the door does not close when you press the buttons. My friend has his air bag light coming on and staying on. Has had the front sensor replace 3 times and the light keeps coming on! NOW, my water pump and thermostat need to be replaced! The damn van doesn't even have 60,000 miles yet!!!! I can't believe how much money I am throwing away on this stupid thing! the problem is it doesn't have any resale value! If I trade it in now, I will lose another 5 or 6 thousand dollars!!!! Good luck too all who own one and warn your friends!!!!!!
  • Good Day,

    Sounds to me that the dealership is not documenting the issues. Lemon law?

    Recommend you file a complaint with your state attorney general office consumer complaints, then file one with the better business bureau of your region.

    Lastly, you have a book on disputes with Chrysler Dodge, read it and follow the instructions. If you do not have it, call the 800 Chrysler line and then tell them you want to start a dispute that goes to arbritation proceedings. When the dealership receive notification that an arb meeting is coming they will do everything in their power to resolve this issue. When Chrysler see state and consumer complaint plus arb dispute (assuming this is a new car under factor warranty) they wil push the dealership. Finally you mention safety issue in steering, contact the national highway govermental agency and file a safety complaint on your vehicle failure steering wheel.

    Good Luck,
    Ps read my post from Oct 14, on the Rack and Pinion.

    Bart Tur
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Wow, I'm stunned at the issues you've had with your van; to say that your experience is different than ours is an understatement. Our first DGC (a 1998 3.8 liter Sport model) went some 170,000 miles with very little maintenance, and our second, a 2003 3.8 liter ES model is currently north of 130,000 miles and has only needed two unscheduled repairs, the first being an ABS wheel sensor, and the second a fix for the steering whine that you're complaining about on your van.

    By the way, the fix for the steering noise is well known and an easy and cheap fix to boot. All you need to do is to replace the power steering reservoir and top the power steering system off with ATF+4 (and nothing but ATF+4) transmission fluid. Do those two things and your steering whine will be cured for at least the next fifty or sixty thousand miles (i.e. until the micro screen in the reservoir clogs again).

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • We are very sorry to hear this please contact me at jre@russdarrow.com to allow me to assist in anyway possible. We value ALL OF OUR customers and will go above and beyond to help
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