Nissan Altima / rear brake problems
This was an email I sent to the representative of the Nissan Scarborough dealership, Nick Sgro. His response was that Nissan Canada deemed it acceptable for rear break pads on a Nissan Altima to disintegrate after 2 years and less than 40000 kms...
I leased a Nissan Altima from Scarborough Nissan 2 years ago. Up until this point, the car has treated us well. The problems started Wednesday November 15, 2006 when my wife Pamela noted a problem with the car. There was a grinding noise coming from the rear driver's side wheel. After driving it myself I quickly came to the conclusion that there was a problem with the rear brakes. I took the car to a Canadian Tire that was close to my house. It is the same Canadian Tire that I regularly have my car serviced at (Honda) and have had years of good service from their crew. After taking a look at the car, the service technician quickly pointed out that there was something obviously wrong and that I should take the car back to the dealership I got it from. The reasons that he listed were as follows:
1. The car had less than 39000 kms on it - break pads should last longer than that and the ones on my Civic certainly have.
2. It was the rear breaks that were affected - even though 2/3 of a car's breaking occurs on the front. The front breaks should wear out faster.
3. The grooves cut into the discs would indicate that there is no break pad left.
4. Canadian Tire didn't even carry the parts necessary to repair the car as the car is deemed to be too new for those parts to be ordered.
I immediately took the car to Scarborough Nissan. It was later in the afternoon on Saturday November 18, 2006. I explained the situation to the service manager and was told that breaks are no longer under warranty. I explained the extenuating circumstances surrounding the failure of the rear breaks to no avail. The service manager ensured me that a mechanic would look at the car to try and determine if there was any mechanical failure outside of expected wear and tear on the breaks but that in all likelihood, I would be covering the cost of the repair. At this time I had the pleasure of listening to another story about other cars whose breaks had failed at 18000 kms. My answer to that was "it certainly doesn't make it right".
I then went to the sales manager, Rick Holton, and repeated my story. Rick's answer to my dilemma was that a problem like this could be due to how the car was driven. This car is driven to our cottage by me with a family of four (including a four month old) and by my wife, somewhat sparingly, as she is on maternity leave. We are certainly not driving it aggressively or taking part in late night road races. Rick shrugged off that notion and then proceeded to tell me about a G35 he recently saw come in with worse break problems under 20000 kms. Again, this certainly does not make it right. At this point I had the distinct impression that nobody at the dealership really cared about the curious nature of this obvious mechanical failure and that I was getting nowhere fast. I told Rick that if this "likely" outcome was to be reached, that it would be the last time that they see this car until I give it back to you at the end of my lease, and that I would certainly not be purchasing another Nissan (though we will be in the market for a minivan within the year - the Toyota Sienna seems the clear leader over the Quest I was considering). That statement was met with a somewhat callous shrug.
I had the pleasure of picking up my car on Monday, November 20, 2006. I wanted an oil change done on the car at this same time and there was to be recall service performed as well. I learned that as a result of the recall service, the back wheels were re-aligned but that the car now veers as I did not want to pay for front wheel alignment as well. Fabulous - recall service caused me to have to pay for front wheel alignment (pouring more salt on my wounds). After agreeing to pay to have the front wheels aligned, I received the call stating the car was ready. I asked to be picked up only to find out that I was out of the pick up area (Yonge and Lawrence - maps.google.com - find out how many kms that is) - get that salt shaker back out!
Not to my surprise, the front breaks were found to be at a 35 - 40 % wear - within normal specifications. While I felt this lent further credence to my argument, Scarborough Nissan certainly did not. Apparently I had found a magical way of stopping mainly on my rear breaks only by keeping the front wheels off the road while breaking (pure sarcasm). I had earlier requested that the defective parts be kept - they were. I have them now.
What do I plan to do about this? First let me say that as far as I am concerned, Nissan has extracted $1000 from my family to cover a defective product that was leased to us. Considering the manner of folks that I have already had the pleasure of dealing with at Scarborough Nissan, I do not anticipate ever being able to recover that money. What I plan on doing is everything within my power to affect your bottom line. I plan on starting with this letter to you, Nick Sgro. My next steps are to post my experience to every blog/website I can possibly find along with detailed pictures of the faulty parts. Being a software developer, I guess the hardest part will be taking the pictures; the rest of it is child's play. From there, my imagination is the limit and the world is my audience. Of course this says nothing to the extent that good old word of mouth offers. My experience has already been shared with my parents and their friends in the Leaside area. Pam's parents in Bolton seemed equally interested in the story. It certainly has been passed around my office up in Markham and I know that Pam is anxious to pass it along to her colleagues at her downtown office tomorrow. My neighbors in Lawrence Park will also be subject to my witty banter on the subject.
The car was last serviced at a Nissan dealership in Markham and passed with flying colors before being brought in for its second service at Scarborough Nissan. I bought winter tires from that dealership and am happy that none of that money went to Scarborough Nissan. I now will extend this fight to Nissan Motor Company Limited at large. I plan on sharing this exact letter with the dealership in Markham as well. Don't think of it as one of the 16,624 Altimas sold in North America in 2005 or the 14,761 of them sold in 2006, but how many I can prevent you from selling in 2007.
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