Monday, April 11, 2005

You Break It, You Buy It

Last week my husband decided it was time to buy a new truck (and yes, we did just buy a new car) so today we drove over to a town near us to pick it up. We were told the truck would be ready at 1:00 PM but ended up waiting around for two hours before it was finally released to us.

To pass the time I wandered around perusing the other new cars. Since we were at a Chevy dealer the cars I looked at were Chevys and a few Buicks. The first car I examined was a Chevy SSR. Talk about a high concept car. Chevy calls it Part Pickup. Part Roadster. and uses phrases like vehicle architecture, performance art, and Hot Rod Genetics. Chevy DNA, to describe it. This one was selling for about 50,000 USD/26,445 GBP.

When I got behind the steering wheel I found the seat set to far away from the foot pedals for me so I reached down and pushed the seat adjustment button. The seat moved forward for a couple of seconds and then I heard a grinding, cracking noise down near where my hand was which caused me to jerk my hand up and away from the control button. When I looked down at the front of the seat I was horrified to find a small gouge in the plastic seat trim along the bottom of the seat and to see some sort of big chunk of plastic poking out from beneath it. I didn't know just what had happened to cause the seat trim to be damaged but I wasn't taking the blame for it and I got out of the car and quickly walked away.

I was so upset by what had happened that for the next half hour I just walked around looking at the cars but staying at least two feet away from them. Then I started getting bored so when I found myself in front of a Buick LeSabre- Limited Edition I opened the door and climbed in. The second I was inside the car I started comparing it to my Toyota Camry. Even though it was priced at around 10,000 USD/5,300 GBP more than my Camry it looked cheaper. The grade of plastic used on the doors and part of the console looked thin and flimsy. The leather seats did not feel as smooth and silky as the leather sets in my Camry. Nothing about this car said it was worth all that extra money.

The one thing I did like about it was the design of the dashboard, it had a swoop in it that went up and over the instrument panel. I reached out to grab hold of the dash and when I touched it, it dropped forward and for a second I was afraid the whole thing was going to fall onto the steering wheel. When I looked at it closely I could see that the dashboard was not connected on the left side to the car the way it was supposed to be, it was sitting on top the connector and not snapped into place. I got out of the car and quickly walked away.

Again I just wandered around without getting close to the cars but then I passed what Buick calls a family utility vehicle; the Terraza. It's a nice looking van and I really wanted to get a closer look at it so I decided that as long as I did not climb inside everything would be alright. I reached out and opened the rear driver side door. I really liked how after I opened the door it slid back out of the way automatically. When I closed the door it did the same thing in reverse. When I stepped back from the van I could see the track where the arm that moved the door backward and forward along the side of the vehicle. Right above it and under the rear side window was a long thin rectangle piece of metal. Being curious I reached into the door track and grabbed a hold of this piece of metal and almost broke it in half when it turned out to be a piece of plastic. I turned around and quickly walked away.

For the next 45 minutes I stayed away from all cars. What happened to me made me wonder about the quality of the cars being built in America. I am very glad we bought a Toyota.

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