My money pit. Thanks Nissan!

Anyone who is interested in becoming an independent sales rep, or any job where they have to drive a car a lot, should take notice of this.  Below you will notice a photo of my fancy, 2004, Nissan Frontier pickup truck with the extend-a-wheel feature.  That’s just in case you see someone who you’d like to take out while driving down the street, but you’re late for a meeting and don’t have time to personally get out and beat them senseless.  Nope, the extend-a-wheel will do it all for you.  Or if you would simply like to lose the rear wheels, extend-a-wheel will discard your wheel and rear axle and get rid of that useless weight.  Well, that actually almost happened to me while driving 55 miles an hour on Interstate 40.

With some blades sticking out of the tire Mad Max could go kayaking with me.

This is a vehicle I purchased brand new in December of 2003 for around $24,000.  That makes 6.5 years that I’ve been driving this vehicle, and nearly 200,000 miles.  It has driven loops around my sales territory each year, from Maryland to Georgia, it has taken two trips to Eastern Canada, and just as many to Central Florida.  That being said, the truck rarely ever carries a load heavier than a rack full of kayaks, and most certainly has not carried anything heavier on a long distance drive.  My service bills on the truck total and exceed $15,000, and that doesn’t even include two sets of tires and brakes, and of course doesn’t include fuel expenses.  This being my first brand new vehicle, and knowing that I would put some serious miles on the thing, I made certain to follow Nissan’s recommended maintenance schedule.  Every oil change, every gasket, belt and fluid replacement, I did all of them, and kept good records of it too.  What’s more, I took the vehicle to the Anderson Nissan dealership in Asheville NC for all the scheduled maintenance.  I figure taking it to the same mechanic(s) would help ensure my safety and the vehicle’s longevity.  Doesn’t that seem reasonable?  Somehow tough, that didn’t persuade them to vouch for me in dealing with the Nissan headquarters when the rear end went out on me just after the warranty expired.  Even after their head mechanic told me time and time again that it was normal for there to be a loud popping noise coming from the rear end.  “Oh yeah, they all do that after they get 30 or 40,000 miles on them.  No big deal,” they told me.  And even after they found bits of shaven metal in my rear diff fluid, no help at all.  Well, the replacement and parts ran me about $2000.  That felt great.

This area right here got bored out pretty good.

Furthermore, all the money I spent with them on service and parts had no bearing on the fact that they treated me with utter disrespect when the catalytic converters went bad prior to warranty expiration.  (Let me make this perfectly clear: I do not expect them to give me anything.  I completely understand they are in business to make money, but they should not to cheat people out of it.)  After receiving some advice from a more qualified auto service center I returned to Anderson Nissan with a printed EPA law in hand stating that Nissan was required to replace my catalytic converter free of charge.    It was a verified warranty item and there was no arguing this.  They finally did replace it free of charge after I spent a considerable amount of time speaking with area and regional representatives from Nissan as well as Nissan Consumer Affairs.  Gigantic runaround just to make sure I didn’t have to pay $1800 to replace a catalytic converter.  Turns out the replacement parts only lasted another 80,000 miles before they went bad again.  This time I did have to pay the $1800.

Retractable tires? Nope.

So, now I’m on my second set of catalytic converters (the truck actually runs with two of them) and the new/used rear end that was allegedly supposed to be way better than the original, goes out on me.  Now when you look at the photos above and below, keep in mind that what you’re looking at occurred while I was driving 55 on I-40 in traffic on a curvy section of road.  Luckily it didn’t completely fly out of the car and cause an accident, and even more luckily I didn’t have my wife, our newborn, or our 3-year-old with me.  Apparently the wheel bearing went out all of a sudden and the axle released.  I was told that an ailing bearing will make some noise before it goes out, but I had no warning whatsoever.  Long story short, $2000 more and I am now running my third rear differential in this vehicle.

Axle bent

All this talk about rear ends, and things flying out of rear ends is making me miserable.    I guess at least I have my own truck that is paid off now, but I won’t be running out to the Nissan dealership the next time I need to go car shopping.  My car has absorbed more money than I care to think about.  Truth be known, I have enjoyed driving and using the vehicle outside of these misfortunes.  Other than these two, big, reoccurring problems, the vehicle has held up and performed just fine.  I’m disappointed that the Nissan dealership and the corporate folks had no interest in helping me.  They displayed to me the poorest customer service that I have ever witnessed, and that lost them my business.  Going back to the beginning, my comment about becoming a sales rep.  Well, if you are thinking about doing it, consider what kind of money you’ll be making and what type of vehicle you are driving.  For me, it’s almost more worth renting a car for my road trips in order to preserve the vehicle I own.  I certainly don’t get paid enough to just consider my car disposable.  Vehicles are noting but money pits, an expense of convenience, and a necessity of many sales jobs.  Too bad I guess.  If someone wants to buy my Frontier please let me know.  I have all the service records and it now has a rear diff with only 50,000 miles on it.  I can’t speak for what else may go wrong wit it though.  Personally, I’d rather just ride my skateboard.

Spencer Cooke, Effort Inc

2 Responses to “My money pit. Thanks Nissan!

  • It’s nice to have wise ass friends to show you the bright side of situations like this. Drew Hayes copied me on this email to a mutual friend of ours:

    “I spoke to Spencer tonight and finally got the whole story about his problems with his rear end. I can’t believe it was coming out of his rear end on I-40. He is damn lucky that his rear end did not hurt him or other people around him. Who knows how many times it came in and out of his rear end as he went down the road. There were probably plenty of people terrified as they watched it come in and out of his rear end.

    Using his front end to get home while his rear end had problems was a really good idea. He also told me that you offered to help fix his rear end but that Spencer wasn’t quite sure he had the time for his rear end repair and was going to have someone else look at his rear end for him. Sounds like he might use the same rear end specialists that worked on his rear end the last time. He did get a lot of life out this latest rear end. He wondered if having a limited slip rear end was part of the last problem but said that this latest rear end was full slip and apparently it still came out of his rear end.

    Like you, I hope he gets it put back in his rear end soon, gets a used rear end, and can stop using his front end when he should only be using his rear end.”


  • To which Raymond replied:

    “lets not forget his rear end was severely damaged.”

    At least these boys keep me smiling.

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