In May of 2018, I bought a used Toyota Camry from our local garage, where my partner had been getting his car repaired. I liked these folks and trusted them. They had always treated my partner well and offered me what I thought was a fair price for this new car. I loved the car. It was bigger than previous cars, had a sunroof, a working stereo and was a comfortable ride. A few weeks after I got it, the brakes started failing. The pedal would vibrate then sink to the floor. If I pumped the brake pedal, it would come back up - a little frightening but no harm done. I brought it back to the garage, and they decided it was an ABS failure. They did a repair for no charge. "Okay," I thought, "I should be all set now." A few weeks later, the same thing happened. Then it happened again and again. Each time, I brought it back to them and they (reluctantly) took care of it. Meanwhile, I kept insisting that there must be a more serious problem if the same thing kept failing.
In November of 2018, I packed up my car to go to a music conference in my hometown in Southwestern Connecticut when, as I was going down a steep hill by my house, my car suddenly accelerated itself and the brakes completely failed. Luckily, I thought quickly and, when the emergency brake did nothing, I threw it into park and stopped just before I would have plummeted into the ditch at the bottom of the hill. Needless to say, I was incredibly shook up and called the garage immediately. I have driven cars with no brakes before. I don't know why, but brake failure seems to be a recurring theme for me. Now, here I was with three showcases scheduled at this important conference and no car. After multiple phone calls to various rental places, I finally found one that was still open and had a reasonable price. Still shaking from my ordeal, I sucked it up and drove to the conference. When I returned, I asked for my purchase price back for this lemon of a car.
I was told that I couldn't get a refund, but I could trade it out for a different car. However, the only car available was one with almost 100,000 more miles on it and some rust on the body. I didn't know what to do, so I finally agreed to a temporary loan while he fixed the first car. I had dome some research and found that other people had problems with the same year and model car. It is a faulty computer. Toyota decided not to issue a recall because: 1. Not every car had that issue and 2. No one had died. What?! I went back to the garage with this information thinking that maybe the owner would swap out another computer. I was told that he had another car on the lot that had a compatible computer, and that's what he would do.
Fast forward to January 2020. I had now been driving the "loaner" for over a year and had been paying for repairs during that time on this old worn out car. I was reaching the end of my rope and had been very vocal about it. I finally got the original car back not quite two weeks ago. I was told that he replaced every brake component that there was, and everything should be fine now. The day after I got it, the brakes did the same rumbly failure at the bottom of my road. I thought, "Okay, it was icy, and I'm not used to this car yet." The next day, it happened again on a dry, flat road. It turns out that the computer was never replaced. When I called about the issue, I was told that there was no computer error readout, so he had no idea what was going on. Did he not listen to what I had originally told him, or did he just discount me because I'm not a mechanic? Or maybe because I'm a woman? It is pretty clear to me that if it's a faulty computer, there may not be an error message from that same computer. But, what do I know? The final straw for me was that when I finally did get my car back, there had been mice in it that had peed all over the interior. The smell was so bad, I drove home with my windows open. After washing the mats with a bleach solution and shampooing the entire interior, it still smelled. I realized that it is in the heating ducts. WHen I threatened to take him to court, his response was not, "I'm sorry. Let's see what we can do." It was, "Listen, if you're going to threaten me with court, then there's noth8ing else I can do for you." Really? Because this has all been my fault? I guess it was my fault that I bought a car from such a disreputable person. The bottom line is: I am not the kind of person to sue anyone, and my partner wants to maintain a relationship with them. So I am resorting to telling my story instead.
Yesterday, I got a loan from my credit union for another car. I went to a dealer this time. I love CapComFCU credit union! They have always helped me out, even when they maybe shouldn't have. They have a car buying service that does all of negotiating, including a discounted price for members. Unfortunately, I got a very small trade-in for the Toyota, less than the cost of the brand new tires I just purchased for it. I did have the option of replacing them with the old tires and trying to sell them myself, but I want nothing more to do with the original garage and wouldn't want the hassle of trying sell tires. I'm chalking it up to another lesson learned and counting on karma to deal with this sleazy business. If I were you, I wouldn't go to Kneers Towiing and Auto Parts on Rt. 7 in Brunswick.