I took my car to Jeff’s mechanic in Sherbrooke for a second opinion.

Unfortunately his opinion was even worse. He said all four struts are shot. They are leaking and need to be replaced. And the control arms, and the rear brake shoes.

He said people around here aren’t too happy with the Dodge Caliber. He doesn’t have a nice thing to say. I asked if all Chrysler products were as bad. He said it is the Caliber in particular.

This car is 4 years old. 86,200 kms on it. I’ve already replaced some of the struts. The control arms were replaced last November. I’ve done all the brakes already. I only drive back and forth to work on pavement!!

So now what do I do?

I talked to the salesman who sold me the car. I know he’s a salesman, but I really like this guy. I told him the bad news about the car. He took me aside to talk about after market parts, since he used to own a parts franchise, and other options. Then he told me to come and talk to him before I did anything. He ran some numbers, and found out how much I owe still on the car (11 more months of payments.) Here’s what is on the table:

  • New 2011 Jeep Patriot, 4×4 (it’s a little SUV)
  • Satellite radio (because he knows I need my Howard Stern and talk radio fix daily)
  • It’s a 4×4 so I can get my driveway easier in the snow (in theory)
  • He’ll buy-back the Caliber for what I owe (he said that is more than what he could normally offer for it as a trade in. He said it isn’t worth that much and in a year it’ll be worth essentially nothing) (I’m starting to see why)
  • Take off another $2,500+ (incentive for taking a 2011. Sounds like this number may grow from the 2,500 he quoted me a couple days ago)
  • He is willing to work with me on the safety. I may not have to pay a penny to fix it, or possibly a reduced rate.
  • Payments will be identical to the Caliber’s payments, or possibly a little less. Or $50 more a month if I want his 5 year gold star warranty.

So… what do I think? I think I was counting on paying for a new car over 5 years and then having years left to enjoy it, payment free. I don’t like knowing I bought a cheap piece of shit that has no value.

A Jeep Patriot is a compact SUV. Not what I would have guessed my next vehicle would be, but the ratings for it are surprisingly good. But it is also in the Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep family. Is the Caliber a dud because I bought it’s first year model? Just a lemon? A visit back to the Caliber forums show people are all making the same repairs I am.

We looked the Ford Escapes a few weeks ago. Jeff said he was tired of my lemon and wanted to trade it in, but I was hesitant because I really don’t want a car payment forever. Maybe we should have done it while I still had a valid safety sticker.

The car has a couple other quirks that we don’t like. It has a really leaky front-right quarter. The floor is always soaked and the carpet is turning green. Chrysler has already fixed it once and replaced all the carpet underlay, but it obviously didn’t eliminate the problem. Also the keys have gotten stuck in the ignition a few times. Like permanently stuck, with car’s axillary power stuck on. They’ve replaced the tumbler system but it didn’t fix a thing because it happened again. It has happened 4 times now with no warning or pattern, making it not trustworthy.

Here is a poll for your advice. Remember, we live in Nova Scotia were we have to have a full safety inspection every 2 years so used cars have a very very short shelf life. My co-worker had a 2000 car. It failed it’s safety. Was rusted out underneath, including the brake lines, and he said they have it undercoated EVERY year! Quote was $2000 to fix so they bought a new car. Even his wiperblades failed. I can’t see a way to win this one, unless we were 23 kms closer to town and I could walk to work, but then Jeff would have a hell of a commute.

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