I Knew It Was Too Good To Be True

Yep, I just knew it.  Nothing is ever simple around here, so I had a feeling all along the solenoid wasn’t the problem with the *new* truck.  The good news is the dealership is still willing to take care of it.  The bad news is we bought the truck 3 weeks ago, and it’s still not fixed!  The even worse news…it’s going back into the transmission shop tomorrow, and more than likely we’re looking at a tranny rebuild.  I keep repeating over and over in my head Take a deep breath and relax.  It’s going to be ok.  The dealership is taking care of it.

So, why has it taken 3 weeks to figure this out, and how did we even end up buying a truck with a faulty tranny in the first place?  Let me start at the beginning.

When we first started searching for a new vehicle I started praying we would find the one that is not just right for us right now but will be the vehicle we need long term.  I prayed we’d find something that would suit both our family needs and work needs. I spent just about every free minute I had online searching through car ads for 2 weeks.  Then we set out driving around to the different lots.  We couldn’t find anything even worth giving a second glance in our area, so we headed 45 minutes away to Anderson.  With a massive amount of car lots there we knew we’d probably find something.  After 2 days of searching lots we were about to give up when one of my Dad’s friends told us about a used truck dealership where he buys all his trucks.  It’s a Christian business, and they are a wholesaler that sells to the public.  Neither of us knew about this lot because it wasn’t inside our search radius.  It was actually only 2 miles past the last lot we checked out.

When we got to this lot we immediately spotted “our truck”.  It was everything we needed and wanted wrapped into one package, and the price was right, too (although I’m always going to haggle it down anyway).  When we found the truck we test drove it, and everything checked out fine.  We’re both super overly careful about making big purchases, so even though Ben is very mechanically inclined we opted to have a mechanic check it out, too.  It was a Friday afternoon and too late to get the mechanic out there, so we went home and weighed out our options over the weekend.  The bottom line was we both fell in love with the truck as soon as we saw it.  This truck is my dream truck.  Seriously.  It’s an ‘02 Chevy Silverado 2500HD LT 4x4 Duramax in dark gray with charcoal leather interior…my dream truck right down to the color.  We knew we’d be buying this truck if a. everything checked out, b. we got approved for the loan, and c. we could haggle to the price we wanted.  I spent all weekend praying if this truck was the right one for us everything would go smoothly, and if it wasn’t something would prevent us from purchasing it.  We were so sure we were going to buy the truck by Sunday night I spent the rest of the evening requesting insurance quotes and weighing out the difference between keeping full coverage on 2 vehicles or dropping to only liability coverage on the Blazer.  Even the insurance quotes came out $30 less than I was willing to pay, and that kind of sealed the deal for me. 

Monday morning we got up bright and early and met our mechanic.  He test drove the truck, checked it over, and yet again it checked out fine.  Then we headed down to the credit union, and our loan was approved with a 6.14% rate.  I was ecstatic.  We’ve been working so hard to build our credit back up the last few years, and that’s a massive jump from the 22.99% interest rate we had to endure with Blazer!

With everything checking out there was no reason not to try to buy my dream truck at that point, and Ben proceeded to haggle to the right price and sign the papers.  He then parked my Dad’s truck he had borrowed behind the dealership and headed back home to get my Dad.  We all had lunch and headed back to Anderson to get my Dad’s truck, and that’s when things went south.  The truck started acting up right before we got to the dealership, shuttering when rolling to a stop, and throwing solenoid codes.  I’m thankful he had parked my Dad’s truck there so we were on our way back to the dealership when it started happening.  So, skipping the unneeded info, the dealership had fixed a faulty solenoid and agreed to send it back into the shop to fix it again because it was a different solenoid code being thrown.  They picked the truck up the next day from our house and took it to their tranny shop. 

The tranny shop said it would be fixed the next day.  A week later they finally got around to fixing it, replaced all the solenoids, and sent it back to us saying it was driving fine and the problem was solved.  2 hours after leaving the tranny shop the truck started jerking at a stop again, and it went into limp mode.  That basically means the tranny locked into 4th gear to prevent itself from major malfunction.  The dealership put the truck right back into the shop, and the shop they used insisted they fixed it correctly and nothing was wrong.  The dealership ended up going back and forth with the tranny shop for another week, and we finally got the truck back…NOT FIXED.  The shop didn’t even touch it.  They were pissed at the dealership, so they purposely kept putting it off and fixing other vehicles that were coming in after our truck.  We know this because both the dealership owner and Ben were riding by the tranny shop everyday to see if our truck had moved, and it sat in the exact spot where it was initially parked the whole time while vehicles that hadn’t even been in the shop’s lot the day before were sitting on the lift.  After a week the dealership got pissed off enough to tell the tranny shop they were done doing business with them and would find a new shop to use.

So, the dealership had Ben pick the truck up last Friday, and found another shop for him to take it to, one with an Allison tranny specialist.  I am very knowledgeable about the new shop, and I know they have a great reputation for working on Allison’s, so I’m happy the dealership decided to use this shop.  Unfortunately the new shop is also one of the many businesses that completely shuts down the week of 4th of July, so they won’t be open again until tomorrow morning. Ben will be dropping it off as soon as the shop opens.  He’s doing that so he can ride around until the truck gets to temp so the Allison specialist will be able to run the diagnostics test while the truck is acting up, not after it’s been sitting long enough to cool off.

In the meantime I’ve spent countless hours over the last 3 weeks on Duramax forums looking for possible answers.  I talked to one of the best Allison specialists in the country, he gave me a rundown of possibilities, and told me in which order to try the fixes.  We started with cleaning the valve body, and moved on to replacing the oversized tires with stock ones the dealership lent us to see if the tires were incorrectly calibrated.  None of that worked.  The truck is still shuttering and eventually going into limp mode after the transmission warms up to operating temperature.  That’s the reason it test drove fine for both us and the mechanic.  It takes at least an hour for it to warm up and start acting up.  We both test drove it for about 45 minutes.

Finally he gave me the bad news.  If none of the usual small fixes worked it’s definitely the tranny.  Most likely the clutches are worn out, and the tranny is slipping.  That means we’re looking at a tranny rebuild to replace the clutches which happens to be the weak spot on Allison transmissions. *Sigh*  And the cost…well that’s anywhere from $1500-4000 depending on the shop, what has to be done, and whether or not you use OEM or aftermarket parts.  Am I freaking out?  Of course, but not as much as I expected.  I think 99% of the reason I’m not freaking out as much as I thought is because the dealership is still working with us to fix it.  The dealership knows there is a great possibility the tranny is shot, and they’ve still agreed to make it right.  That says a lot knowing we bought the truck as-is, and by law they’re not obligated to do anything about any problem that occurs after we leave the lot.  Lemon Laws don’t apply to used cars and situations like this, and selling it as-is covers them.  I know because I spent hours online and on the phone checking into that.  Also, that whole 3 day grace period thing in SC?  Nope, it doesn’t apply to used cars either unless the dealership specifically tells you they’re going to give you the grace period.  Most don’t give you that option, so you’re SOL. So yes, I’m extremely happy the dealership is willing to foot the bill and make it right!

Anywho, our first payment is due at the end of the month, and now I’m just praying they get it fixed quickly.  I don’t want to be making a payment on something I can’t even drive yet!  Plus we’re still stuck borrowing a vehicle from my dad because we can’t fix the little one on the bike, and the Blazer is sitting in the yard ready for it’s own tranny rebuild.  We’ve had Daddy’s Jeep for 3 weeks, and it’s needs to go in the shop to get a new window motor as soon we we’re done with it.

That’s just our luck, though!  When we bought the bike the dealership strapped it down wrong, and it fell off the trailer leaving the parking lot!  When we bought the Blazer the finance company’s system went down, and the forgot to put the handwritten paperwork into the computer.  They gave us the paperwork saying we were approved for the loan, but when we went to buy the Blazer the dealership called the finance company, and they claimed we were never approved.  It took 3 days to find the handwritten paperwork to prove our letter from the finance company wasn’t a fake!  And…now this.  I think we’re destined to have some sort of problem when it comes to buying a vehicle!  I’m almost laughing about it as I type!

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