Wednesday, June 07, 2017

[Cars] Acura Shakes

My car has become a source of stress. About 15,000 miles ago it developed a disturbing vibration at freeway speeds -- 65-70 mph. I put on a new set of tires at the behest of the dealer and that reduced it, but never eliminated it. Subsequent visits to to the dealer have just had them tell me that I need new tires again. Um, no. Sorry but if that's the best you got, you're phoning it in.

I now have an appointment with an independent mechanic. I suspect one way or another the problem will get solved eventually, but it's left a bad taste in my mouth regarding Acura.

I know that my Acura TL is essentially a gussied up Accord. It has more sound deadening, a bit better interior materials and a high level of base componentry, the engine is tuned for better performance (and thus requires premium gas), it's built in Japan instead of Marysville OH, but other than that it's an Accord.

What you are also supposed to get with Acura is the premium customer service experience. I have seen nothing of that. The folks at the dealership are very polite and personable. Not surprisingly, the dealership is generally less crowded and has a more pleasant atmosphere than one of the big mass market dealerships. But that's about it. It has no more generous a policy regarding loaners. They do wash and vacuum your car anytime you bring it in but that's a fairly trivial sacrifice and the local Ford dealer does that also. The mechanical capabilities of the dealer shop are suspect, as are most dealer garages.

I will say that apart from the vibration issue the car is a astonishing great. It has no rattles or squeaks, the engine is strong and smooth, the transmission is pretty much unnoticeable, and it handles with an agility far beyond my capability to disrupt it. The electronics are a bit of a weak spot -- it struggles to communicate with my phone, nav system is only so-so -- but that is likely because it is old generation tech. If the vibration problem hadn't forced me to re-evaluate, I'd probably be delighted with the car, but one bad experience forces you to look more closely at things.

As usual, I find myself working through decisions in the course of a blog post. I have in my head the idea that if the independent mechanic gets the problem sorted, even if temporarily, I'll trade the car in on something new rather than risk the vibrations returning. There are some advantages to this. I have been feeling the need for a little more utility, by which I mean something that can carry my bike without a bike rack and that I can take to Menard's without the need to tie down my trunk half open. I am absolutely not a fan of SUVs, CUVs, XUVs, etc., but there are aspects of convenience I can't deny. Or if I really want a premium customer experience, I'm told Lexus or Mercedes is the way to go. That suggests my ideal vehicle would be a Lexus or Mercedes SUV that is just big enough to carry my bike. A dark horse would be a Lincoln version of the Ford Escape (the correct random three-letter name of the model escapes me).

Here I thought this Acura had an outside chance of being the last car I owned before I bought a car that drove me. Then my place of employment moved, adding 20 miles a day to my commute. If it's to be replaced it should be replaced now before it totally depreciates.

On the other hand, I hate buying a car. Just hate the whole process. I hate it so much I have to stop right here to avoid going on a 1000-word rant. So I guess I'm saying if I do end up getting a new car, brace yourself for a string of auto dealer hate posts. Lucky you.