Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Altima (ultimate) piece of krap

Back in the 90's I had an amazing car. It was an Olds Calais quad 442. I loved that car. It was fast, solid, comfortable and the engine growled oh so nicely. It was a real good looking car too. The photo below is not my car (I don't have any good pictures of mine). This photo is of Buddy Norton and Peter Farrell's car - thanks guys for posting this picture on the net! Mine was white and looked exactly the same, spoiler and all - except without all the adverts and cool racing decals.

Man - is that a good looking car or what, eh?

I drove my 442 for thirteen of the best years of my life - from 1991 to 2004. Like all good things, the joys of owning that car had to come to an end when it rusted out and started falling apart. It also started having some pretty serious mechanical problems and like an old beloved pet, with a heavy heart, I decided I had to let it go. It was a really hard decision.

I sold the car to a guy who did ice racing in the winter. The car wasn't running when he bought it and I cried the day he towed it out of the driveway and I watched it disappear down the street for the last time. I was never to see the car again nor to hear anything from the guy who bought it. So I don't know it's ultimate fate. Perhaps he has fixed it all up and it is still racing today, or maybe it was demolished during a race. Who knows? I just hope it went out with a blaze of glory - the car deserved that.

I don't think I can ever love another car as much as I loved that awesome quad 442.

I shopped around quite a bit but there was nothing out there that really got my heart pounding. I ended up leasing a 2005 Nissan Altima for three years. I was in mourning and wasn't ready to make any long-term commitments so that's why I leased it. It was a 2.5SE model - and I ordered it in black. When it came it was charcoal gray - apparently the salesman had misunderstood my colour choice. Whatever. I had no intentions of falling in love with this car so it didn't really matter what colour it was.

The car was OK I guess. Nice and roomy and the engine was all right. The one thing I discovered very quickly, though, is that gray is a really bad colour choice for a car. It began as a subtle thing at first. I would be driving down the street and people would back out of their driveway and almost hit me. But I also noticed when I was driving on the highway that people would change lanes right on top of I wasn't even there. The full realization hit me when birds kept slamming into the car. My gray Altima was invisible...I was a road hazard. I was probably going to die in this car - and because my car was invisible, my dead body would probably never be found.

But as fate would have it, that car and I were not destined to be together. After a couple of months the "Service Engine Soon" light went on. When I got it serviced they said I hadn't screwed on the gas cap tight enough. I drove the car home, but the next day the light came on again (the gas cap was screwed on tight - so it wasn't that). So I took it back and they did whatever they do to turn it off again. When I drove it home it was fine...but the light came on again the next day.

Nissan service kept dicking me around but after the seventh time they finally admitted that the computer was generating an error code that was undocumented by the manufacturer. So what does that mean? Well the girl in the service department explained it to me like this: "You don't need to worry about the light - just keep driving the car and ignore the Service Engine Soon indicator. But if the engine starts stalling for no reason, or if it starts smoking excessively, or if the engine catches on fire, then you should definitely bring it in."


And she said it to me with a matter-of-fact, straight face like she told this to people every day. Anyways, I thought screw that! I'm not driving this mobile road hazard any more. So I turned around and walked over to a salesman, pled my case and traded up on my lease to a different car. There was no way in hell that I was going to drive around in that ticking time bomb any longer.

I traded up to a black 2005 2.5SL Altima. It was a black beauty with heated leather seats and an awesome Bose sound system. It drove straight as an arrow and was super well insulated and amazingly quiet to drive. It was no 442, but I was managing to really like this car. It was a 4 year lease and during those 4 years I never had any problems with the car and I was really starting to think of purchasing it when the lease expired.

But of course, car manufacturers don't want you to do that. Before the lease expired they invited me in and started schmoozing me and trying to get me to sign a new lease instead of letting me purchase my 4 year old car. They used all kinds of good arguments and admittedly, the new 2-door Altima coupe was a really nice looking car. So I test drove was OK, but the back seat was really small and hard to get into and I was having to drive my aging parents around to doctor's appointments and the like more and more often, so the coupe wasn't a good choice for me.

For the regular 4-door 2.5SL they had a new sporty Aero package that added some spoilers and made the car look a little more sexy, so I let myself get suckered in. I let my 2005 go and got a 2009. What a mistake!

The 2009 Nissan Altima is a cheap piece of junk! A real piece of krap - a mobile scrap heap. I only have myself to blame because I didn't test drive it. It is so cheaply made that I can't even get over it! I don't even know where to start.

Road noise. I guess I'll start here because this is the most aggravating thing for me. After 4 years in my practically sound-proof 2005, I can't believe the number of decibels of road noise that I have to endure in my 2009. I swear that I'm going to end up burning out all of the electric window motors because I keep trying to close the (already closed) windows thinking that one of them must be open and that's why I'm hearing all this horrendous, distracting road noise all the time. There is not one iota of insulation in this car...NONE! One day I bought a case of beer and put it in the trunk. As I drove home I could hear the bottles clinking together in the case as if it were in the seat next to me. How could that be - the case of beer was in the trunk. What the heck are the back seats made out of? Rice paper?

Rattles. Ugh - rattles. I hate rattles, squeaks, buzzes and other annoying noises. I never had any rattles in my 2005. The 2009 is full of them. I spent countless hours at the dealer getting rattles fixed during the first year. There is still one in the dash, another one coming from the back passenger side somewhere, plus every time I turn a corner something goes "hoooo" right next to my left's driving me f*cking crazy!!! But I give up. Every time you fix a rattle in this car you discover that it was hiding the sound of another rattle, buzz or squeak.

Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap. Everything in this car is cheap. The metal is thin, the leather is thin, the carpets are thin, the plastic is thin and flimsy - everything is cheap and flimsy. They cut so many corners to make this car inexpensive that it is just a cheap piece of krap now. A far cry from the 2005 I had before. Nissan should be ashamed - they took a good car and turned it into a cheap piece of garbage. And no, I'm not just exaggerating because I hate this car - it really is a cheap piece of garbage. You know how cars usually have metal wheel wells? My 2009 Altima does not have metal wheel wells...the wheel wells are made out of felt. I know what you're thinking, but no, it's not felt that is glued to rigid plastic or to metal - hell no - that would count as insulation and there will be none of that! It's just flimsy felt...the kind you make crafts with in elementary school. Flimsy felt with nothing behind it but air.

I've had my fair share of krappy cars in my lifetime, but this one is the biggest disappointment of all. After 4 years of pleasurable driving in my 2005 Altima I can't believe how horrible the 2009 is in comparison.

Now, of course, my bitching and griping has not gone un-noticed at my Nissan dealer. I have literally BEGGED them to let me upgrade to a different car...but this time they won't let me. They say it's not them (the dealer), but that it's Nissan Canada who have changed the wording in the lease so that, in order to get out of the lease, you have to pay it out in full. Nissan has the big end of the stick, see? You can no longer cancel a lease in order to get a new lease...unless of course, Nissan wants you when it is in their best interest. But when it is to keep a long-term, loyal customer happy? Not a chance. Sorry, no can do!

One smart-assed salesman told me "Your mistake isn't that you got a 2009 Altima. Your mistake was that you had a 2005 Altima first." Really? Gee thanks pal. You can crawl back into your cubicle and go back to playing with your dick now.

So I've been stuck with this piece of krap and counting down the number of days until I can rid my driveway of it. Oh Nissan have offered to let me turn it in early, after two years of making me suffer, but only if I got a brand new Nissan - they even offered to waive the vehicle inspection and to give me all kinds of incentives.

But you know what? They've blown it. They don't deserve to have me as a loyal customer anymore. They made me suffer for two years with a car that I don't like, so they can dry-jam it up their exhaust pipe. Now I have the big end of the stick. I'm keeping this piece of garbage until May 1st, 2012 when the lease expires. When I take the car back to them the brakes will be finished, the tires will be worn out, the batteries in the remotes will be dead, the car will be dirty, the gas tank will be empty and the car will be so full of rattles, squeeks and buzzes that they might just drown out all the f*cking road noise. I wish I could max out the mileage too, but I just can't stand driving the damn thing enough to max it out.

Apparently the 2009 was a disaster and they put the quality back in the 2010 and 2011 models, but I am not really in a position to vouch for that because they wouldn't let me change my car. They needed suckers to pawn off their krappy 2009s to and I was one of them.

I don't know what to expect with the 2012s and I don't really care either. After dropping off my Altima at Nissan next May, I will be walking across the street to Dodge to treat myself to a brand new Charger.

Sayonara Nissan!

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