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February 6, 2012

Go to: http://www.dontbuynissan.com

I have renamed and rebranded this website.  Please go to: http://www.dontbuynissan.com for all new updates.

January 28, 2012

Contacts section updated with Nissan Consumer Affairs contacts

I wanted to make it easy for others to contact Nissan Consumer Affairs if you are experiencing the same problems over and over again like me. These will stay in the contact tab above, and here they are as well:

Nissan Corporate/Consumer Affairs Contacts:

If you are having problems with your Nissan, below are some contacts I’ve been dealing with over the past 4 years in Consumer Affairs at the Corporate office in TN. If you call in with a problem they should open a file each time, so you want to make sure to get that file number for your records to prove you’ve opened a case with Nissan Corporate. Take very detailed notes of everything they say, because I’ve been lied to numerous times by representatives of Nissan (discussed here: Trust and Accountability) so if your case ever goes to court, or even to put together a detailed file like mine, detailed notes including date and time you spoke to people help create a legal record.

Anna Naraeva
Nissan North America, Inc.
Escalation Team Supervisor, Consumer Affairs
anna.naraeva@nissan-usa.com
Phone: 615-725-7376
Fax: 615-967-2559

Mary Baumgartner
Senior Manager
Customer Support
mary.baumgartner@nissan-usa.com
Phone: 615-725-7255
Fax: 615-967-2090

Melody Benedict
Consumer Affairs
Phone: 615-725-7514
melody.benedict@nissan-usa.com

Kisha.Benedict
Consumer Affairs
Phone: 615-725-7668
Fax: 615-267-7940
Kisha.Benedict@nissan-usa.com


Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and I do not offer legal advice; any advice or suggestions should be researched by you and decisions made based on your own research.

January 13, 2012

NOT ACCEPTABLE: Power Nissan is just giving my car back with no fixes

Once again, this is best summed up in the emails sent to Nissan, below.  I have also requested to speak to Bill Krueger, Senior Vice President, Total Customer Satisfaction, due to my dissatisfaction with this outcome – I am far from a totally satisfied customer seeing my car is in the 3rd Nissan dealership for the 18th time and Nissan’s stance, according to Anna, is that we’ve helped you all we’re going to.  Anna – Nissan has never fixed the car properly, so how does that help me if my car continues to break down on me?

——————
Date: Fri, Jan 13, 2012
Subject: URGENT: Attn: Anna & Bill Krueger
To: melody.benedict@nissan-usa.com, “Baumgartner, Mary” <mary.baumgartner@nissan-usa.com>
Cc: “Garcia, Mike” <garciam6@autonation.com>

Dear Anna,
If Nissan is unwilling to properly fix my car for the 18th time and unwilling to loan out the snapshot machine, I want to speak to Bill Krueger, Senior Vice President, Total Customer Satisfaction (or whomever has the title now).

I do not accept your statement that Nissan has helped me in the past and will no longer, because nothing that Nissan did actually ever fixed my car.  IT BROKE DOWN 18 TIMES IN 4 YEARS due to the same electrical problems.  Nissan never fixed it correctly and even Mike Garcia said he believed that Universal City Nissan “took me for a ride” that all they did was throw parts at the car.

Please send me Mr. Krueger’s phone number so I can call him today.

——————-
Date: Fri, Jan 13, 2012
Subject: Not acceptable
To: “Garcia, Mike” <garciam6@autonation.com>
Cc: melody.benedict@nissan-usa.com, “Baumgartner, Mary” <mary.baumgartner@nissan-usa.com>

Mike,
Just spoke with Anna.  I’m very upset with this outcome.  I do not accept that I have to continue driving this car when it could breakdown at any moment, and that you will not loan out the snapshot machine. I do not accept that you have the TSB’s that describe this problem but refuse to apply them or as Anna said will charge me for that. I’m also upset John never gave me a call from Power Nissan.

So what do you propose in going forward?  What happens when it breaks down again, for the 19th time?  If I bring it into Power Nissan, can you have them hook up the machine right away (however once the car is warm it usually doesn’t do shut off)?  Will you provide a loaner again if needed (won’t take advantage if I don’t need it; i.e. if on a Saturday for instance)?

At your request I’ll return the loaner since you are giving me no choice.  As I explained to Anna, I can bring it back tonight and be there around 8pm, or first thing tomorrow morning (tomorrow morning is easiest for me but if you must have it back tonight, I will, unfortunately as explained below I cannot get off work early to return any earlier).

I want to put you all on legal notice since you are giving me my car back after it’s been into the dealership for the 18th time for the same/similar electrical problems that if it breaks down on me in traffic and I am harmed or anyone else, that you will be held liable.  When I come to pick up the car, I would also like Joe’s full name, as well as Pedro’s like I requested before and you said you would get for me, and  I would like everything documented that was done with my car.  And I would like John’s full name with the documentation as well, as well as the owner of Power Nissan.  I would also like Anna to provide the owner of Universal City Nissan and the owner of Santa Monica Nissan (even though they are closed, who was the last owner).

I have a phone call scheduled with Anna today.  I hope something will change by then.  I hope you will at least test it a few more times.  Thank you.

January 10, 2012

My Nissan Sentra is Not An Enigma

So Power Nissan and Joe the DTS Technician could not duplicate the shut down after driving my car 70 miles today.  I think my email to Melody Benedict and Mary Baumgartner in Nissan Consumer Affairs, ccing Mike Garcia at Power Nissan, best sums up the events of today:

——————
Date: Tue, Jan 10, 2012 at 4:23 PM
Subject: update on my car
To: melody.benedict@nissan-usa.com, “Baumgartner, Mary” <mary.baumgartner@nissan-usa.com>
Cc: “Garcia, Mike” <garciam6@autonation.com>

Around 1:15pm today I was given an update on my car by Mike Garcia.  He said they have not been able to recreate the shut down problem.  He said the DTS was out driving the car then.  He said he would update me this evening or tomorrow morning.  He said that they put about 70 miles on the car.  I explained I told all of you this, that one time when this happened, it took them 4 days to recreate the shutdown, but they did. And I also stated before, by letting the car sit for a week, awaiting the DTS, it may not shut down again right away.  It tends to shut down after sitting for long periods of time, i.e. in the morning after sitting through the night and after work for me, after sitting 9 hours. Also, it tends to break down more when it is colder out, i.e. the last 3 Decembers it broke down and the first time in Jan. 2008.

Mike then went onto discuss things like the carfax showing an accident by the previous owner which I explained the previous owner told me was a minor accident while parked to the rear door that was easily fixed.   I wasn’t quite sure what that had to do with the price of tea in China or how that related to the continued electrical problems with my car or the 17 previous occasions Nissan has been unable to fix said electrical problems, or the 2 ECU’s, 3 ETB’s and 5 ECU reprograms that have not fixed a thing.

It sounded to me like they weren’t going to drive it much more past today or tomorrow, and unless the car shuts down there is no other way for them to test anything.  It also sounded to me as if he was trying to come up with excuses as to the 17 breakdowns somehow being my fault or the previous owner’s and not Nissan’s.

This is YOUR CAR, you need to fix it properly.  A 2002 with under 52,000 5 years old should not break down 17 times in 4 years and have all the electrical parts continually replaced.  The first time it broke down on me was in January 2008 with only 51,178 miles; and the first time a similar problem happened to the first owner was 2005 with only 29,251 miles.   This electrical problem has plagued this car since just under 30,000 miles.  Please do something about it.

Mike said my car was “an enigma.” NO IT ISN’T, many other people have reported same or similar problems with the 2002 Sentra SE-R and other Sentras, so I don’t understand why language like this is still being used when I have provided much research to all of you.  Have you not read it?  Do you not care that you are allowing an unsafe vehicle, many unsafe vehicles, on the road?

To make this day worse, the conversation with Emily was just unacceptable, she didn’t even know why my car was in the shop.

This is not acceptable.  I want my car fixed properly this time, or traded in for one that works.  I cannot live like this anymore driving this car worrying if it will break down on me, and these continued arguments with Nissan, and being passed onto different people in Consumer Affairs who know nothing about the 18 TIMES MY CAR HAS BROKEN DOWN ON ME.

Please figure this out – I want the next phone call to be good news.  Thank you.

 ——–

Mike, Melody and Mary – what if this was your car?  And what if you had all the research I had showing you that many other Sentras are having the exact same or similar problems that mine is having.  Would you think your car was an enigma?  Does that make sense?

Mike said to me today if there was an major problem then surely Nissan would have issued a recall.  Then how do you explain the many other people who have reported multiple ETB’s and ECU’s being replaced, some saying their entire engine was replaced.

In case you forgot or neglected to read the file, here it is again with all the research.

Nissan Sentra DTS letter & file 010512

Please don’t come back to me tomorrow with this blaming attitude or calling my car an enigma.  Do what is right.  Pretend this car is yours.  Do what you would want the manufacturer to do if you were in my situation and your car broke down on you 18 times due to the same electrical problems.

Mike, Joe, Melody and Mary, I once again make a plea to you to please do the right thing here.

January 7, 2012

A Possible New Strategy: Small Claims Court

I may have a new legal strategy if Power Nissan fails to fix my car on the 18th time.  Small claims court.  A Honda Civic Owner took Honda to small claims court in CA, suing for $10,000 when a design defect prevented her car from getting the 50mpg that was advertised.  I’m awaiting to hear the outcome of the January 3 trial.  The great thing is, Honda could not bring a lawyer to trial, only a representative of the company.

Check out the Los Angeles Times article (or download it below) and her website:

http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-autos-honda-smallclaims-20111227,0,959031.story
http://www.wix.com/civichybrid/dontsettle#!

LA Times small claims court 122711

January 7, 2012

Why I’m fighting Nissan & Hitachi Automotive so hard – is it worth it?

So you may be asking at this point, why am I fighting Nissan so hard after my Nissan Sentra broke down for the 18th time? Why not just sell the car and get rid of the problems?

When I came to Los Angeles from New York City where I resided for seven years without having a car, I invested most of my savings in my Nissan Sentra. I looked at several cars and really liked the Sentra, and thought at the time Nissan was just as good as say Honda or Toyota (wow, look how much has changed since 2007, only one of the three retains their namesake). So I was investing in the name, in Nissan. I bought my Sentra from a private owner in 2007 with only 52,000 miles on it and no major problems – he was a family man who was just upgrading to a larger car with a new kid on the way. And I got it for several hundred dollars under Kelly Blue Book. Sounded like a great deal at the time. Boy was I wrong, but never in my lifetime would I have expected the 4 year nightmare I got.

I’m in the film business, and I went into a great amount of debt in New York. So during this whole ordeal and even now, I could not afford a car payment or the rise in insurance of a new car. I invested all my savings in this car with only 52,000 miles on it and I was expecting it to last me at least to 100,000, if not 150,000. In the four years I’ve owned it, I’ve only put on an average of 6,500 miles a year, way below average. This car should last me at least another 4 years.

So each time after the Nissan dealership fixed my car, I wanted to believe that they fixed it once and for all. I have no problem paying for regular maintenance of the car. But I should not have repeated replacements of the ETB (Electronic Throttle Body) and ECU (Electronic Control Unit, the computer), both made by Hitachi Automotive, and repeated software updates of the computer. This is clearly a design flaw that Nissan needs to step up and admit to and either fix it once and for all, or make good on their product and offer me a replacement car.

If you know me, then you know I’m a stubborn SOB. I won’t back down until I win. I took a $465 red-light ticket to court, preempted the commissioner to get a judge, researched like crazy, and went to court and presented my case, and the judge dismissed the fine. I refused to pay for something that I didn’t believe was right or just, and I didn’t believe in some camera that I cannot question giving me a fine more than half my rent. I fought it and I won.

On top of that, unlike most of Nissan and so far Hitachi Automotive, I have a conscience. Jiminy Cricket sits on my shoulder and tells me not to sell my car on the private market because I don’t want to hand my problems onto someone else. I would have to disclose all the problems I’ve been having, probably sell it for a couple thousand below KBB value, and even then, I wouldn’t want to pass on these electrical problems to another buyer, when it’s a design flaw that’s the fault of Nissan. By Nissan failing to do their job properly on 17 prior occasions and failing to fix my car, they have devalued my car.

18 times my car has broken down and they have been unable to fix it. How can I pass that off to someone else? And even if I try to trade it in at a dealer, even a different car dealer, they’re just going to fix up the car and sell it to some unsuspecting buyer, and half the time, the car runs fine with no SESL light on, and the problems don’t show up until it breaks down weeks or months later. And as explained above, due to financial reasons, I am unable to just junk the car at a junkyard and take a complete loss.

Basically due to financial reasons, the fact that Nissan has devalued my car due to their complete incompetence and failure to admit to a design flaw, and the simple fact that I have a conscience, I am forced to spend my time fighting Nissan and now Hitachi Automotive in order to get them to do what is right and just. Honestly I would much rather spend my time doing more productive things, like writing and focusing on my freelance business. But instead, I’m writing on this blog, due to Nissan’s complete incompetence up to this point.

January 7, 2012  (January 26, 2012 – Mel info updated)

Helpful Representatives of Nissan

Since most of this blog is focused on my negative experience at Nissan and in my prior post “Trust & Accountability” I point out all the Nissan reps who have lied to me, I thought I would take the time to give a shout out to those who have been helpful during this ordeal.

  • Mel Lemus of Universal City Nissan: Mel was always on my side and a few times he fought to get parts replaced under warranty.  As of December 2011, Mel is the Service Manager of Universal City Nissan, so if you must go there, see him (I will recommend avoiding this dealership at all costs though, check out the Yelp reviews on it: 1, 2).
  • Stacey Steven: Universal City Nissan has changed Service Managers many times over the 4 years of my ordeal.  When Stacey took over, I wrote in my Yelp review that “there’s a new Sheriff in town.”  Stacey was great, she totally took care of me, picked up rental cars, and fought to get parts replaced under warranty.
  • Mike Garcia:  Mike is the Assistant Service Manager of Power Nissan of South Bay who’s been helping me so far during the 17th and 18th breakdowns of my car.  He gave me a loaner which I’ve now had for a week and is letting me keep it while we wait for the DTS to come out and diagnose my car.  The loaner has been a big help.  Mike also just has a great attitude and seems to really want to help.
  • Melody Benedict: Melody’s with Nissan Consumer Affairs and works under Mary Baumgartner, Senior  Manager.  Melody helped schedule the DTS to look at my car this time, and returns phone calls.

While Mel and Stacey were great, at the end of the day, they never actually fixed my car or got a DTS to take a look at it; all they really did was throw parts at it and never found the root cause of the problem.  I’m truly hoping Mike and Melody will do everything in their power to either fix my car this time once and for all or offer me a replacement, because if Nissan cannot fix my Sentra after the 18th time of breaking down for the same or similar electrical problem, it MUST be a design flaw, which means they need to make good on that problem, and the only remedy would be to provide a car that works properly and was designed properly.

January 6, 2012

Trust & Accountability: A Plea to Make the Situation Right

One of my biggest complaints with Nissan as a company, and now Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, Inc., is trust and accountability.  Mike Garcia of Power Nissan; Melody Benedict of Nissan Consumer Affairs (in the office of Mary Baumgartner, Senior Manager, Consumer Affairs); and Kelly Ochoa, Project Engineering, Technician; and Kunihiko Ohnumaat, CEO, of Hitachi Automotive, all have the power to change that by stepping up and doing the right thing this time, the 18th time I’ve had my Sentra into a Nissan dealership when I’ve already had 3 ETB’s and 2 ECU’s (made by Hitachi Automotive) replaced, and either fix my car properly or offer me a replacement car (or the value I paid for the car, plus all my expenses during this four year ordeal).

I’ve been lied to many times by representatives of Nissan and although I keep detailed records of everyone I speak to, no one seems to be held accountable for anything they say or do.  Nissan just doesn’t care.  The biggest lie of course being “this will fix your car” which I’ve been told on 17 previous occasions and they have yet to fix the electrical problems with my car.  As are documented in my Yelp reviews and the “DETAILED NOTES WITH NISSAN” section in the document in the research section, here are the blatant lies I’ve been told:

  • The first time the ETB (Electronic Throttle Body) supposedly needed replacement, Eric Diaz of Universal City Nissan quoted me $100 more for the part than their own parts department.  Eric Diaz lied.
  • David Larush, Regional Specialist told me, “We are prepared to offer you an extended warranty on the mechanical components for 7 years / 100,000 miles –whichever comes first.”   I asked if this covered the ECM and ETB and wires – the parts that have been continually being fixed and replaced – and he answered no, he’d have to look into getting the warranty to cover “electrical” as well.   I then asked 7 years from when, and he answered the original purchase date of the car – which was 2002 – therefore since it was now 2010, 7 years has already expired, therefore this warranty is no good.  Therefore he reneged his offer of an extended warranty and refused to extend the warranty to 100,000 miles.  David Larush lied.  A Nissan Consumer Affairs rep even told me, “that was incompetent of him” to offer the warranty.
  • Chris Weir, Service Manager, at Santa Monica Nissan through the request of David Larush agreed to provide a rental should my car break down again.  When it did break down again, there was a new Service Manager at Santa Monica Nissan, and he refused to honor Chris’s promise of a rental.  [Now Santa Monica Nissan is closed… I wonder why with this great service and honor].
  • During one of the many files I opened with corporate, I was told by Kate x41573 that I would get a call by the end of the next business day.  A day later  Maryanne Grundle x41461 tells me  “the file was closed and this was due to Kate using a template that said at the bottom that she couldn’t give me her info or file # therefore the file is closed” – whatever that means.  Maryanne corrected this and assured me I would get a phone call by 5pm that day.  No phone call came.  The next day  the file now says I will receive a call by 5:00pm today, although she confirms that yesterday it said 5pm for yesterday.  Complete disorganization, incompetence, and lies.
  • Shanell Russell, Regional Specialist, told me she didn’t get any of my voicemails because of their new voicemail system (OK, I can’t prove this one, but seriously that’s a lame excuse and just shows incompetence on the part of Nissan for not having a reliable voicemail system in this day and age).
  • During a discussion with Juan Beccera, Service Manager at Universal City Nissan, where I was requesting that he pay for the rental car since they were replacing the ECU for the second time, they took five days to do this, and no one called me the day before when my car was ready, he said, “We’re done. We can no longer fix your car for free.”  The problem with this statement is: NISSAN HAS NEVER FIXED MY CAR.  It has now broken down for the 18th time.  Juan Becerra lied and made me go through corporate to be reimbursed for the car rental.  Hey Juan, I still got reimbursed.  You could have made it easier on me if you would have just not charged me in the first place, and not hijacked my car until I paid for the rental.

I truly hope that once and for all Nissan will step up to the plate, that Mike, Melody, Mary, Kelly and  Kunihiko will do everything in their power to fix my car once and for all, or make this situation right.  In all good conscience there is just no way these representatives of their companies could come to me now, after this four year trauma, after hundreds of dollars spent not only to the Nissan dealerships, but in round trip gas money, time off from work, pain and suffering from all the fear, anxiety and depression I’ve experienced during this entire ordeal including not knowing when and if my car will break down on me again – there is just no way they can come to me now in everything that is right and just in this world and fail to correct the situation.  I am making a plea to all of them to do the right thing here, correct this situation once and for all, try to reinstate the dignity and good name that Nissan once held by at least making one customer happy – be trustworthy and accountable for your company, please.

I hope they will.  I should know more Tuesday, January 10th after the DTS examines my car.

12/31/11

My car breaks down for the 18th time due to same/similar electrical problems

My 2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R has been into the dealership 17 times since 2005 for the same or similar electrical problems.

I’ve had 3 ETB’s (Electronic Throttle Body in which the TP Sensor is a part of) replaced on 7/12/09, 12/07/09, and 5/12/10 and 2 ECU’s (Electronic Control Unit – the computer) replaced 1/9/09 and 11/19/10.

I’ve had the Idle Air Control Volume reset 4 times on 8/23/08, 7/28/09, 4/24/10 and 12/21/11 – this was explained to me as a software update for the ECU.

Both the ETB and the ECU is made by Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, Inc. for Nissan.  And according to an article on The Truth About Cars website, “Hitachi supplies some 90 percent of its engine control units to Nissan.”

On 12/21/11, after taking my car into the dealership for the 17th time after the Service Engine Soon light came on and the code pulled was for the “TP sensor,” I was assured by the Assistant Service Manager of Power Nissan of South Bay–the third dealership I have had my car into (including Universal City Nissan and Santa Monica Nissan-before they closed)–that according to a DTS Technician (which is a special Nissan technician) that the only thing wrong with my car was that the Idle Air Control Volume needed to be reset again, that “someone” previously set it wrong. 

CORRECTION: I was led to believe a DTS technician looked at my car on this date, but after a conversation with the Assistant Service Manager of Power Nissan, the DTS was only out there that day, it was a Master Technician at Power Nissan that looked at my car and improperly diagnosed it, this Master Technician is new there, as his Tech code wasn’t even listed in the Manager’s binder, and apparently the Master Tech discussed my car and his solution with the DTS and he OK’ed it, but never actually looked at my car.

Little more than a week later, on 12/30/11, my car shut off on me 4 times, once in traffic at a red light with the RPM fluctuating between 600-800, just as it has in the past.

I believe there are major electrical and/or mechanical and/or engineering problems with my Nissan Sentra SE-R which may be the result of the ECU and/or the ETB being faulty,  which then leads me to believe both Nissan the maker of the car and Hitachi the maker of the parts are at fault.  This problem first occurred in 2005 when the car was still under warranty, but the dealership failed to fix it properly then, and 16 tries later, it still doesn’t work, breaking down on me for an 18th time yesterday.

Due to research I have found at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other Nissan and car forums, I believe many other Nissan Sentras, as well as possibly Nissan Altimas, which have the same ETB (Nissan Part #: 1611K-AE01BRE) and ECU as my car are experiencing similar problems to mine.  Yet Nissan and Hitachi fail to recognize there is a problem, fail to issue a recall, and fail to diagnose a fix for the problem.  And now I am spending New Year’s Eve creating this blog to spread the word.

If you own a Nissan Sentra or other and have had multiple ETB’s and/or ECU’s replaced (or even just 1) and/or had the Idle Air Control Volume reset, please contact me, and tell your story with as many details as possible, (if possible, please include dates your car was into dealership, names of those who helped you like the Service Advisor, copies of the invoices,  the file number if you’ve opened a file with Nissan Corporate, the info to the Regional Specialist if one was assigned to you, anyone in Consumer Affairs you’ve spoken with and any email correspondence, and any other useful information).

Please contact me at dontbuynissansentra at gmail.com (replace _at_ with @).