Holden lemons leave a sour taste

by grogers on December 31, 2006

I’ve just read this article by John Connolly about a poor Holden Vectra driver stuck with a four grand repair bill after the cam belt died prematurely. John invites responses about what car should win the award for car so bad it should be “taken out… and shot”.

Here is my reply. Enjoy 🙂

Hello John.

I have just read your article and I would like to tell you about my most miserable driving experience in my entire life, called a 1997 Holden Commodore VT.

I bought this vehicle with a fair share of its used-car warranty remaining from a Holden dealer in 2000. Apart from the usual joy that accompanies buying a used car from a dealer (such as them losing the spare key) I drive home and happily showed my new car to all my friends.

Then, it started. If I had known back then that a fault with the alternator wiring was the mere needle head tip of the iceburg of weird and expensive faults with this car I would have sold it there and then. Heck, I would have given it away…

After the alternator wiring caught fire and was promptly replaced under warranty by the dealer, I started noticing that most of the interior plastics where becoming extraordinarily brittle, especially with the door speaker grilles, snapping at a mere touch. Very annoying.

If a bit of interior wear was all there was to this story then this car would hardly warrant an entry in the Dog and Lemon guide, but I have yet to tell you of the various horribly expensive mechanical faults, many caused by poor design and cheap materials.

I had the power steering pump rebuilt twice. Due to the seals prematurely perishing, this resulted in a spectacular failure mode where stinky hydraulic fluid sprays all over the hot engine causing a rather alarming escape of smoke from under the bonnet while driving.

Due to a poorly designed suspension, tyre life was extremely poor. Some two thousand dollars later for a totally new suspension and the bi-monthly replacement of tyres was finally cut back to yearly.

Naturally, there were many electrical faults with this vehicle which left me stranded. My mechanical engineering knowledge has only increased since I’ve discovered the many complex and expensive components that make a modern engine tick (since over time, I’ve replaced just about all of them) and I can now pepper my conversations with works like “ignition module”, “engine management module” and “crank angle sensor” to impress the best of them.

Then the automatic gearbox died. The gearbox mechanic was baffled that a box that had done 160,000 Kms had broken in such a thorough and spectacular way that he couldn’t even begin to figure out what had caused it.

This is just small sample of the many, many faults I’ve had with the poorest designed, most expensive to own, biggest lemon ever manufactured – The 1997 Holden Commodore VT.

By selling such a spectacular failure of a product Holden have guaranteed I will never spend a single cent on another one of their products ever again. Nor will any of my family, my friends or anyone else willing to hear my story.

(I’ve just got rid of this car and got myself a good deal on a new Mitsubishi 380, with 5 year warranty)

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