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.