Walker-Buerge: second time

Despite our previous disappointing experience with Walker-Buerge Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep, we decided they were our only resort for my car.

(Side note: Did they drop the “Walker” from their name? An internet search serves up www.buergechryslerjeep.net, for Buerge Chrysler Jeep Dodge. Slightly less of a mouthful?)

What happened? I drove off to work one morning and realized that my car wouldn’t shift out of first gear. Fun times, driving down busy boulevards in L.A. trying to circle back home, my engine revving up to 3000 RPMs and barely hitting 30 mph, me frantically hitting the hazard lights after someone started tailing my rear. (I will never understand. If there is no one in the lane beside you, and the car in front of you is going too slow for your tastes, then move the hell over! What good does riding someone’s ass serve?)

Back home, I quickly switched cars and got to work, and my lovely Mum had my car towed in to Buerge the next morning and got the transmission module replaced so I didn’t have to take any time off work.

Once I got my car back I noticed that cars on the 101 were all traveling at 90+ mph. I didn’t think much of it, I figured it had something to do with summer being over, fewer tourists, more kids back in school, I don’t know. Being the slowest car on the road didn’t raise any alarms with me, because around that time I’d changed my driving style, trying to get the most out of my gas.

I began to suspect something was off when I couldn’t pass the big semis, even though my speedometer read 65 mph. When my odometer kept reading my trip meter at 270 miles every week, I knew then that something was wrong. My commute to work is a little over 23 miles, each way, and I wasn’t driving anywhere on the weekends. (No money for gas. :( )

I asked Mickey why my odometer and possibly my speedometer were off, and he mentioned the possibility of the replaced transmission module having the wrong settings, but that he’d never come across that complaint in the five years he’d worked as an auto technician (the new, modern term for mechanic).

I did a search online, and while I didn’t find exactly the same situation as mine, there were people (mostly motorcyclists) who said that odometers and speedometers could be set up incorrectly, and they had to be taken in to techs to get adjusted.

After weeks of bugging him, my brother finally tested my car with me, using his GPS to find that while my car said it was going 65 mph, the actual speed was about 57. My car said 30 mph? Was really 27. 40? 35.

The first thing that annoyed me about using Buerge this time: calling to get an appointment. Before work I called to get my car looked at, but this was Labor Day weekend so I couldn’t take my car in on Saturday or Monday. (Nice to know there are some places that give their non-office work force the day or even the weekend off.) I don’t want to draw out what happened, but three phone calls later (because of my inability to talk on the phone and process information at the same time, I just kept hanging up [with a “Thank you,” of course] and calling back later) I still hadn’t managed to talk to the service writer who’d handled my car before, nor to make an appointment. Fourth time I called, this was how the conversation went:

Me: “Hi, I’d like to make an appointment with [writer’s name], as soon as possible.”
Her: “You can bring your car in on Tuesday from 7 to 10 am.” [Fudging the time, as I can’t remember.]
Me: “I can bring it in any time between then?”
Her: “Well what is it about?”
Me: “I’d like to talk to [writer’s name] about a previous repair.”
Her: “Well let me see if he’s out there.”
Me [thinking she was going to go check herself, then get back to me]: “Okay.”

Then she transferred me to his personal line, which I knew he wasn’t answering because it was a busy morning, and I didn’t want to leave a voicemail because I wouldn’t be able to take a call while at work.

My brother looked at the repair order himself later that day and realized that the module was set up for a 3.0-liter engine. He called Buerge and left a voicemail message, but the writer never called back.

Next week my mom called and managed to get an appointment so she took my car in, getting it back at the end of the day. They wanted to make sure that they got it right this time, so they put 10 miles on my car. (Compared to the 75k+ that’s already on there it doesn’t matter any. Especially compared to the roughly 200 miles that my odometer inflated.)

It’s nice they put in the time to ensure that my car was correctly fixed the second time around. (Do you know how much time it takes to drive 10 miles in L.A.? ;)) But why did I have to bring my car back a second time? What is wrong with this service department that the transmission module was set up for a 3.0L engine and the tech didn’t think to, or didn’t have the time to, ensure that the module was set up correctly for my 2.7L engine? Why is this the second time that my car has had to be brought back to make sure it’s fixed, or is working properly?

We’ve given up on Buerge and found that there is a new Dodge dealership near Carmax. So even if this Dodge service department is similar and we have to bring the car in a second time, at least we won’t have to trek all the way up to Santa Monica.


I will try to make this quick (hah!).

Last week in March of this year (old, I know; I’ve been avoiding writing this for a long time now) my mom and I took my car in to repair three things: wheel bearing on the front driver side needed fixing (thank you to the body repair shop that told us what the squealing sound was! My family and I had been trying to solve that since late 2006!!); steering wheel needed straightening (result of an accident from early in my driving career); and oil needed changing.

Mum called Carmax in Inglewood but after waiting on hold for a number of minutes, she was told to hang up and try again. She didn’t want to hang up, so she stayed on the line, and they disconnected her. (I’ve complained about Carmax’s phone system before, haven’t I?) She called back and got connected with a manager, whom she proceeded to tell that she wanted to bring her car in for service but because the phone system sucks she’s taking her business elsewhere.

That’s how we ended up going to (Walker?) Buerge Chrysler. She called them up and asked if they’d service a Dodge and they said yes. So we spent spring break of ’08 driving up to Santa Monica four times. Why four? Let me tell you!

My mom explained to the service writer what we needed, an oil change, the steering wheel re-aligned, and the wheel bearing looked at, because it was producing a squealing sound randomly at speeds above 35 mph. The service writer said sure, yes, they’ll fix it, and we were on our merry way.

Later, I don’t know if it was the same day or not, Mum got a call from the service department, and the person on the line told her that the brake pads on my car needed to be replaced, did we want to replace them? Mum said sure, and I went along with it ’cause hey, they know what they’re doing, right?

So we went to pick up my car, but not one block away from the dealership and I hear the squealing sound coming from the tire again! Told Mum once I got home, so she called and explained that it was the wheel bearing that needed looking at, not the brakes. We took the car in again and it was at the dealership for the rest of the week. The problem was fixed, finally, but …

Mickey said that he wasn’t so sure that my brake pads needed replacing, because he’d looked at them late summer in 2006 and there was still 6 millimeters left, and this was at 30,000 miles. (Yes, my original brake pads lasted almost 6 years. Told you I drove like a grandmother. :P) The other mechanics at Mickey’s job thought that my brake pads would probably last another 30,000 miles. And yet, Walker Buerge claimed that my brake pads were down to only 2 millimeters and should be replaced. I’d probably only gone about 45,000 miles by then.

It’s been a while since this happened. I know my memory isn’t that clear, but I somehow think that they thought my brakes were the cause of the squealing, and not the wheel bearing, like we said. I don’t know if they even looked at the wheel bearing the first time, or if they just thought, ‘hey, they’re women, we’ll just replace the brake pads since they probably don’t even know how to spell wheel bearing!’ (Then again, the mechanic[s] never saw either of us, so that’s probably just my overactive imagination.)

Who knows? Maybe the problem isn’t with the people doing the repairs. Maybe it was the service writer who didn’t write down wheel bearing when we suggested it as a probable cause. But then that’s still a problem that we’ve had with Walker-Buerge. Now we don’t know where to go next.

(Note: this is not a commentary on the sales department of Walker-Buerge. My grandfather bought a truck there. He didn’t complain to me about them. I haven’t heard any complaints about the Ford side of the service department from him or my dad. Maybe it’s just the Chrysler/Jeep side that has a problem. Maybe it’s just plain Chrysler that has a problem. But then Cole Dodge was really nice and really helpful and really efficient. Maybe I should stay in SLO until I buy my Mazda3…)

mileage speed-wise

I thought this was a pretty good reason to drive 65 mph instead of 75 or even 70, going from home (L.A.) to school (SLO) and back (about 400 miles roundtrip).

gas mileage and speed chart “Peak Performance: A U.S. Department of Transportation study averaged the fuel-efficiency curve for eight cars and light trucks.”

It’s one thing for my brother to tell me the highway mileage stat on cars is obtained while driving 47.5 mph and somewhere above that speed the mileage starts to go down. It’s another to see that at 70 mph I get the same mileage as at 15? And the sharp decline as the speed rises…

The rest of the page:

Teutonic Shift: Freedom to speed is an inalienable right in Germany—at least on those portions of the nearly 8,000 miles of autobahn that have no posted limit. Some drivers well exceed 450 mph. So there was an uproar when a European Union official suggested last year that Germany cut greenhouse emissions by imposing a limit of 75 mph or so on the entire expressway.

The idea has merit. Cars burn fuel to overcome friction, air resistance, and other forces allied against them. The more fuel a car burns, the more CO2 it produces. Every car has a peak fuel-efficient speed that gains the greatest distance per unit of energy spent. That speed varies by make and model, but according to David L. Greene, a corporate research fellow at Tennessee’s National Transportation Research Center, “there would be very few cars with an optimal speed above 70 mph.” Still, an autobahn limit might not be a huge help. Even now, its drivers average around 80 mph.
—Tom Zeller, Jr., National Geographic, October 2007

audio and heat (not necessarily together)

Follow-up on previous post: went to car stereo store, got a Panasonic CQ-C3405U (that’s what the guy said to put in there) and managed to get my CDs back, all for $170 and some change. woot. It took only 45 minutes too. Take that, Carmax service shop!

Of course, the cons: no cassette player (used only to listen to mp3 player though), only one CD slot player, no bass/midrange/treble control on the panel, doesn’t switch from FM to AM and back (goes through FM1 band, FM2, FM3, then AM band), and it’s not part of the manufactured car. Pro(s?): auxilary jack! XD The system is made for iPod, which I will never own as long as Creative is in business (and offers a fairly good product), but I guess I’ll get over it.

I don’t really like not being able to switch from CD player to radio, and have the CD player pause while I’m listening to the radio (getting traffic reports from 980 and 1070). (Or, I’m not quite sure, maybe the new CD player does pause, I wasn’t really paying attention…) Mostly by CD player I mean my music. With my old system I had to go to my mp3 player (i.e., reach down and fumble around for the pause button) then switch to the radio, and I accepted that and didn’t listen to my mp3 player often (didn’t hurt that it’s only a 1 gig Zen Nano *grin*). But now, since I’ve got only one slot for CDs, I decided I should (finally) move over to mp3 player.

It’s sort of a trade-off. I’ve got two different modes of driving/music-listening: driving to work during the summer, about an hour-long trip (no need for more than one CD), with frequent switching over to radio; and then there’s driving to school (from L.A.), just straight four CDs in a row three hours of non-stop music. Driving to school isn’t too much of a change, I just have to set up my mp3 playlist before leaving, instead of gathering CDs and loading them in the car. But driving to work … gah, I hate the instances where I have to fiddle around with things just to not miss the traffic report or a bit of the music I’m listening to.

(Funny thing happened on the way home today. I turned on the radio and plugged in my mp3 player but didn’t turn it on because it turns off after a minute or so anyway…. So ten minutes into my drive, while on the 101 going 65–70ish I turn on my music, and a couple minutes later I realize that I wasn’t really paying attention to traffic around me; I didn’t recognize any of the cars around me, just the van [far ahead] in front of me, and I couldn’t recall driving past all the offramps to near the point where I have to start moving over. hahaha!)

One last thing I’m not particularly happy with: the new system seems to up the treble more than I like. :( As I said before, there’s no bass/midrange/treble control on the panel like there was with the Dodge system, and it really really spoiled me I see. Now I can only adjust the bass and the treble. Ouch. I’ve got the bass and treble lowered, but while listening to my Anastasia soundtrack (CD) I could hear the highs, which hurt my ears. Then today, listening to Aly & AJ’s Insomniatic on my mp3 player the same thing happened, only moreso (hadn’t noticed while listening to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Gorillaz, or The Used, hah). I turned down the treble from −6db to −12db where it was comfortable-ish to my ears, but the music sounded flat and besides there were still some semi-highs hurting my ears, so I changed it back. (Later at a long red light I went into the mp3 player’s settings and lowered the highest frequency.)

Now if I had a midrange control, I could simply increase that and be perfectly happy. But no! N says audio companies must think we’re idiots or something, because a lot of stereo systems don’t come with equalizers. Mum’s system has an equalizer, but the ones N look at have only a control for the bass and treble (like my car!). *twitch* That’s like … the one thing that makes buying audio bearable for me. Buy something I find decent, then adjust the hell out of the equalizer. Grar.

(Ack, why do I always end up typing way more than I plan?)

The very last, very minor annoyance I have: the knob. It’s shorter, making it harder for my long-nailed fingers to get a grip on it XD and it’s made out of metal which honestly I would never think would be a drawback, but in the valley where it gets to 110° … say hi to little burns on my fingers.

Today my car read the temperature at 113°, at 3:30 in the afternoon. That wasn’t really so bad. The bad thing was being in an office where for some reason the air-conditioning wasn’t going below 85°. (Yeah, it’s taking 115° air from outdoors and lowering it 30°, and I’m complaining because it won’t go down another 10°.) I never thought 85° was sweltering, but apparently it is. I found it really hard to concentrate on my work (updating my boss’ website, woo) and sat there thinking about the old “Japan Dresses Down” article, wondering how they could possible work in an environment that warm. Like, do accountants make a number of mistakes? Because I found myself making mistakes today … forgetting an " for one. o.O

Later in the car I heard on the radio that power companies were asking people to turn off their thermostats and conserve electricity. I know a lot of places were only in the 80s today (this house, for example, and us with no air conditioning, oh me oh my how do we survive in such primitive circumstances?), but still, sitting in a hot car in 110° … that bit of advice drove me a tad crazy. I’ve always thought people should keep their A/Cs at 78 at the lowest … but sitting in an office where the thermostat was set to 72 and I was sweating just sitting at a computer, I don’t know, I guess I have to rethink that.

Also, I felt more guilty than usual running my A/C in the car today. haha. It’s one of the hottest days this week and I’m trying to keep from getting dehydrated, and I turn my A/C down to the lowest setting (on max A/C though) which I never do because the lowest setting is pretty weak. Heck I even opened my window at Santa Monica Blvd. just to see if I could withstand the 85° heat. (The answer was no.)

Then again, I could have lessened my use of gasoline by not gunning the engine driving around slow cars. But gahhh, semis going up the pass at 50 mph … *dies*

just posting my rage on the ‘net

Almost three years ago I had to replace the CD changer in my car (2001 Dodge Stratus) because it was jammed. I’ve also had to replace the CD player once because it skipped, repeated, and didn’t play certain parts of CDs. (Always songs 2, 3, 4, 5.) Now I’ve got four CDs stuck in the CD changer: Mirrormask soundtrack, The Cardigans’ Super Extra Gravity, Modest Mouse’s latest album, and Vanessa Carlton’s Harmonium.

So at 5ish I called the Inglewood CarMax service department. Someone picked up on the first ring, then put me on “hold” where I stayed for some minutes listening to an ad about how wonderful CarMax is. After a while I was redirected to some guy’s voicemail, which my mom says never gets checked at CarMax. (Once she called wanting to know if my car was ready and left a message on the service tech’s voicemail but he never called back. She had to call again the next day to find out.)

Now we’ve had enough and Mum said she’ll just buy me a new CD player/changer at a car audio store. Hm, now that I think about it … I probably won’t be getting my CDs back until the end of the year whether I go with CarMax or Mum. Oh well.

(Am posting partly because I’m irritated, but mostly because I could find only one Inglewood Carmax service/repair review.)