HAMBURG, NEW YORK -- If anybody is interested in buying a Chevrolet HHR I will save you the trouble and say DON'T BUY IT! Go to your nearest Toyota or Honda dealer instead. Any HHR that is not equipped with running boards has a paint chipping problem due to a design flaw by General Motors. The retro design of the HHR makes the wheel wells wider than the car which gives the car a nice look.
However because the wheels are wider than the car the front wheels throw road debris at the rear rocker panel, wheel well, and doors causing the paint to chip away. So that cool hip design really doesn't matter because the car looks like hell after about 10,000 miles. General Motors recognizes the problem and will paint the car, however the new paint justs chips away again because of the design flaw. Chevrolet also recognizes the solution which is to install running boards on the vehicle.
The only problem is General Motors thinks the running boards should be purchased by the owner and the problem that was created by GM in the first place is the customer's problem. The running boards costs about $800.00 to $900.00 after installation. So if you don't want your HHR's paint to fall off and look like hell because of a manufacturer's defect by GM then it will cost you just under $1000.00.
So GM screws up and then sticks the customer with the bill as if it was the customer's fault in the first place. What bothers me the most is that General Motors still continues to sell the HHR without running boards giving the customer an option to let their paint chip off. I don't know why the running boards aren't standard equipment to prevent the problem. So every HHR on the road without running boards will look like hell after about a year of use.
The next time you see an HHR without running boards just take a look at it and you will see the paint missing if you don't see the paint chipping it either means it was just repainted or the car is just a couple of months old. I tried to get GM to budge on this, and fought them for over a month. They plead ignorance when it comes to giving a customer running boards.
I was told by a GM representative that GM does not recognize a design flaw and because it is the road causing the paint to chip away it is considered a divine issue or an act of God. So she is telling me that the car is not designed to drive on roads. So if you bought an HHR you might as well use it as a display piece in your garden because it is not designed to go on roads.
It is a real shame that this has happened to my car because overall the rest of the car is great, it just chips its own paint. I was so happy with the car I was definitely planning on purchasing another one in about 3 years. But because of the way GM has decided to handle this I am really thinking about buying a Toyota or a Honda the next time. I am even filing a complaint with the attorney general and see if they can do anything about the issue.
The way I see it General Motors knows they are selling a defective product and is continuing to willingly sell the defective problem. They are giving the customer the decision to buy a car that chips its own paint. Not making running boards standard equipment is fraudulent on GM's part and is similar to giving the customer an option to purchase a car without a fender or a bumper or even brakes. They can raise the sticker price to cover the cost of the running boards so what is the problem? That is why I have no choice but to turn to the Attorney General not for just my own sake but for everyone's sake.
FLOWERY BRANCH, GEORGIA -- I purchased a 2006 Chevy HHR LS in the summer of 2006. I loved the car and it ran very well. I have now put 78k miles on it and it has had a total engine failure. After contacting GM, they are willing to do nothing. I ended up dealing with 3 different customer service representative at GM and I never felt like any of them really paid attention or cared what was going on with my car. I was nice and polite until the very end when they told me they would do nothing. The following is taken from the notes I made during the process:
On 10/21/08 I was driving the HHR and the car started running rough in the morning on the way to work. It was making a clacking/clattering noise and sounded a lot like a diesel engine. Car sat in the parking lot at work all day and continued to run rough in the evening. I stopped at a gas station, filled up and checked the oil. The oil was lower than it had been so I added one quart of oil and drove to pick up my son from school and head home. After picking up my son and half way between his school and home the check engine light came on. I pulled over to see if I could see the problem, but could not. I drove the car a few more miles to a service center and left it for the night.
10/22/08: The service center informed me that I needed an engine flush and an oil change. Once that was completed I was told the car was running fine (fixed), but I needed a power steering flush, new struts and shocks, new brakes, new tires and a fuel injector flush. I declined the services and went to pick up the car in the evening. The car still sounded like a diesel and still made the clacking noise, but the check engine light was off. Left the car again.
10/23/08: The service center informed me that they could not do any further service on the car because they did not do engine work. They informed me that sometimes driving the car a little would work the new oil through the engine and get rid of engine noise. I picked up the car that evening and drove it home.
10/25/08 - 10/26/08: Drove car very short distances to try to get oil running through the engine as suggested. Check engine light came back on the evening of 10/26 and I parked the car. I planned to find a mechanic and get and engine diagnostic performed.
10/27/08: Contacted a full-service center about looking at the car. They informed me that they could and I planned to drop the car off that night. Later that day I took my wife to the emergency room and due to her medical problems I could not do anything with the car for over a week. 11/04/08: Finally able to do something with the car I dropped it off at the full-service center at night.
11/05/08: The owner called to see what they needed to do with the car. I explained the problem and they ran an engine diagnostic that showed fault code PO306 misfire and PO326 knock sensor out of range. He informed me that they would need to take the top of the engine off in order to find the exact problem. He later called me and said that the engine was not getting enough oil pressure to the rear cam. He said that his master tech called it a total engine failure and that I needed to replace the engine.
He also informed me that they did some looking and after speaking to a service manager at a GM dealership that this had occurred on other 2006 Chevy HHRs and that GM had offered an extended warranty to 3 yr/ 100,000 miles. He recommended that I call the dealership I purchased the car from and speak to the general manager to see what could be done.
I called the Chevrolet dealer where the vehicle was purchased and asked for the General Manager. I was transferred to the new and used car director and after trying to talk me into trading my car in and buy another he offered to have "the proper" person call me back to deal with my issue. I received a call from the service manager and told him of my problem. He explained that he had not heard of GM changing or extending the warranties, but asked if he could look into it and give me a call back.
I called the full-service center later in the day and he suggested that I call Chevy Customer Service, so I did. I spoke with a guy and he asked for my VIN#. After looking things up, he informed me of recall #08016, but could not find anything else listed for my car. He took my name address and phone number and said they would contact me if anything came up. After I asked about any type of warranty extensions or recalls for the engine he informed me that he could only look up information about my car.
Spoke to full-service center owner again and he transferred me to his master tech and he explained in more detail what had happened and what could have caused it. "Three of the rear camshaft caps are loose. Each cap has two bolts, all of which are loose. The loose camshaft obviously scored the camshaft journals. One of the rocker assemblies is broken. The cylinder head is damaged and beyond repair. Metal shavings are present in the oil passages. The engine needs replacement. There is no evidence of lack of maintenance. On arrival, the oil level was full."
The service manager at the dealership called me back and told me that he could find nothing about extended or changed warranties. I asked for any contact information for Chevy and he gave me the same customer service number I already had.
11/10/08: I spoke with a customer service representative at GM customer service. I told him everything that had happened and quoted the master tech in his description of the problem. I even told him about a Burger King cup that I found on the inside of my front bumper that could have only made it to that location while the car was being assembled. He said he would escalate my call to a district specialist. He said my report would be followed up in 24 hours. He agreed that it sounded like a manufacturer defect. He also stated that the car would need to be diagnosed at a GM dealership and placed me on hold to schedule the car to be towed to a locale dealership.
11/14/08: After some trouble getting things set up the car was towed from the full-service center to the Chevrolet dealership. I contacted the service manager and he informed me that the car could probably not be looked at until Monday because his engine specialist was already working on another car.
11/15/08: My wife needed something from the car so I drove to the Chevrolet dealership and was escorted to the car by one of the salesman. I noticed that the engine was already disassembled and it looked like the diagnostic had already been done. I got what I needed and left expecting a call from the service manager on Monday.
11-18-08: I called the Chevy dealership and spoke with the service manager. He said that most of the upper engine did need to be replaced and it would be just under $4000. He also said that they would not know about any other problems until they started working on it. He was pretty unhelpful and made it obvious that he was not going to be very helpful. I am still surprised that he did not call me on Monday or Tuesday to inform me. I am also surprised that there was no contact between the dealership and GM customer service. I called GM customer service right after, got voicemail and left a message.
11-19-08: Called GM customer service again and left another message. 11-20-08: Called Gm customer service again and got voicemail, again. I called back and spoke with a new person. The new guy tried to get in touch with the old guy and found out that he was on vacation until tomorrow. New guy then told me he could help me escalate things to a district specialist (which old guy had already told me he had done). New guy asked me a bunch of questions about what happened and where I took it, where I got it serviced, if I had any other mechanical problems in the past, etc.
I explained what happened, again, and he asked what my ideal result would be in this situation. I told him that I would like to have the engine fixed or replaced under the warranty that came along with every other HHR (100K miles). New guy put me on hold and spoke with the service manager at the Chevrolet dealership that had the car. When he came back on the line he said that he was now escalating my problem and that the old guy would get back in touch with me on Friday 11/21/08 or Monday 11/24/08. I also asked about a loaner car and he said that the state of my warranty would not allow for it.
11-24-08: Received a call from a new girl at GM Customer Service today. She explained that my problem had been escalated to her attention. She started to state that my car was not going to be fixed by GM, but before she did I explained my problems in further detail. She said that she would need to get the dealership to completely pull the engine apart to find the full extent of the damages.
She started to ask me to call the dealership and then stated that she would call them herself to see what they could do. This was only after I pointed out that they really needed to be communicating more with the dealership and that my car had been sitting there for over a week now with nothing being done to it. She said that she would call be back later in the afternoon and give me more information.
The new girl called me back about an hour later and told me that GM would not cover the cost of repairing my engine. She said that since I did not take my car to the dealership for my regular maintenance that they could not tell what type of maintenance it had had. She stated that there were thousands of possible causes to the engine trouble I was having. She also started to tell me something about the fact that the type of oil used could have caused this problem.
When I confronted her with the simple fact that the car was not assembled properly by GM and that there is no such maintenance that would require a mechanic to mess with the cams in the vehicle she backtracked a little and then stated that they could not determine the original cause of the problem. They could not see why it had happened, but felt that no matter what it was not their fault or problem. At this point I have to admit that the conversation became quite heated.
I started all this in hopes that GM would see that a mistake had been made and that they would take care of the problem. The $4k-$6k repair cost that I am now going to have to go through would probably cost them very little, but they would prefer to lose a customer for life than deal with a problem. The fact that an independent mechanic looked at the car and stated that it was a manufacturer defect only makes this easier for most people to see where GM is at fault. The fact that they tried to tell me it was due to lack of maintenance or that the brand of oil I used could cause this is even crazier than I ever could have imagined.
DETROIT, MICHIGAN -- A follow-up to the story of the Power steering unit that I drove from VIRGINIA (not North Carolina) to Detroit to complain about. Many of the reprints of the story and even the TV interview with WDIV incorrectly stated that I was removed from the GM building. THIS IS NOT TRUE.
I did speak with the head of security, he was very attentive. He did what he could to find an individual who could or would see me without an appointment. He did provide me with a name written on his business card of an individual who was not in town but would assuredly listen to me.
I received a call from the news reporter while conversing with security at which time we shook hands and I left of my own volition (read they were happy). As I was leaving I told him who the call was from and my next move. GM released a response via their public affairs person who explained that the power steering unit was "tuned differently" than the cobalt and that it had half as many complaints and that is why they were not made to recall.
That may be true of the COMPUTER programming, it has nothing to do with the electrical failure of the PART. And the fact that the SAME part number is used on SATURNS, COBALTS, MALIBUS as well as HHRs, and the exact same replacement part with NO different codes etc is used as the replacement.
I still have the defective Power Steering part. It is my intention to further this matter to prove GM LIED and is LYING to the owners, the public, and the NHTSA. I did not drive to Michigan for simply the $91.63 refund, it was the principle of the issue which I understand is lost on the majority of the country these days.
However, my issue went on unresolved and I was treated flippantly for 2 months before I finally took a drive. The gentleman from Detroit (I am too by the way) didn't even get the facts right of the story he was referring to. Can he be believed to even tell the facts as they happened to him?
I had a customer complaint case and a number, did he even bother to call customer service 800 number? I have taken a lot of grief for what I did, and those who spite me are more time than not more hateful int their comments about me. Who is misdirected?
DETROIT, MICHIGAN -- It's really a shame when the corporation actually almost tells you there is nothing we can do for you. The car is two years old and had a catastrophic engine failure at 38k miles. Now the gas mileage went from 32 down to 25 and the quality of the vehicle and the engine are totally compromised according to factory specifications.
When dealing with the customer assistance individuals, they basically say there's nothing we can do for you, you're just stuck with that vehicle. Very poor for customer loyalty or promoting their vehicles when they cannot deliver what is advertised, very poor indeed. I would not purchase another GM vehicle since the defect is an engineering design problem that now I'm stuck with for the life of the vehicle.
HUNTINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA -- I recently bought a 2007 Chevrolet HHR with 8,000 miles, and when I got home noticed the paint chipping on both sides of the rocker panels. I went back to Dutch Miller Chevrolet in Huntington, WV only to find out they would not make it right. Why would you make a car without running boards being standard knowing the damage it does without them and then not make it right by putting them on for people? My Dad was a die-hard Chevy man, I'll never buy another one.