Ownership Verified: An Italian from Illinois

Dr_Grip

Made from concentrate
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1979 Opel Kadett | 1972 Ford Country Sedan
preposterous! that sounds like 20th century driving! :shakefist:

:D
I don't even have hot/cold buttons. Just a lever that can regulate from "no heating" to "infernal heat of hell" with no steps in between.

- - - Updated - - -

So...in the end you still have the same car, with a new touchscreen unit? Seems like an awful lot of unnecessary bickering over lemons and whatnot..
I think he was on the third(?) touchscreen unit within less than three months of ownership. I won't call that "unnecessary bickering".
 

Spectre

The Deported
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00 4Runner | 02 919 | 87 XJ6 | 86 CB700SC
Yes, the case has settled (or will be when the paperwork arrives for signing). I get some money, car does not get a lemon title. I had a chat with the lawyers when Chrysler offered a settlement, and had the court ruled in my favor Chrysler would have immediately appealed for a September 2014 hearing. If nothing else went wrong with the car, I likely would have lost and gotten nothing. Since there's been nothing wrong with the electronics since June, and there's still the option of starting another lemon case should things go wrong again, I took the settlement.

I would advise you to read that settlement agreement very, very, very carefully. It is not uncommon for the lawyers to sneak in a release clause that says you *cannot* hit them again for a different lemon issue on the same car.
 

SchumacherM

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Fiat Stilo 1.8 16V
I think he was on the third(?) touchscreen unit within less than three months of ownership. I won't call that "unnecessary bickering".

Meh...not really something that makes me think "scrap value" or "lemon". A defect ofcourse and an annoying one, needs proper repair. I just don't understand why it would fail repeatedly? Bad installation, another fault making it go to shit?
 

Leadfoot866

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'12 Ford Focus hatch, '06 Nissan Sentra sedan
...another fault making it go to shit?

After the third unit was put in, I was starting to wonder if maybe the problem was in the wiring harness (electrical short/surge was frying them?).

Third unit seems to be holding itself together, so it might have just been that the others were crap...
 

PelicanHazard

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'13 Dart 1.4T mtx, '03 Ranger, '20 KTM 390 Duke
I think he was on the third(?) touchscreen unit within less than three months of ownership. I won't call that "unnecessary bickering".

It was the third unit within about a month. The first unit failed ~3.5 months after I took delivery, the second unit failed the same evening I got my car back from the shop, the third one is holding up so far.

I would advise you to read that settlement agreement very, very, very carefully. It is not uncommon for the lawyers to sneak in a release clause that says you *cannot* hit them again for a different lemon issue on the same car.

I will, thank you.

Third unit seems to be holding itself together, so it might have just been that the others were crap...

Or different. Some little differences between units I noticed:
  • The first unit had different icons and GPS menus than the owner's manual.
  • The second unit (the one that failed almost immediately) looked like the first, but had blue menu backgrounds instead of red and different copyright/trademark info on the GPS loading page.
  • The third and current unit looks like the first, with yet again different copyright/trademark info on the GPS loading screen and some small UI tweaks, the most noticeable of which is that the GPS (not navigating a route) now lists the next intersecting road instead of the road I'm currently on.
 

Redliner

Y'all got any lamps?
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I don't drive, I fly.
So possibly different versions?
Interesting.
 

PelicanHazard

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'13 Dart 1.4T mtx, '03 Ranger, '20 KTM 390 Duke
Small update on the car. The settlement paperwork came in, had it signed and notarized and mailed back. The check will arrive in some weeks and this case is completely closed. They managed to get a little bit more money for me than the initially agreed amount, which again will go towards house down payment at some point in the future.

Other than that, it's starting to show the wear you'd expect of a street-parked daily driver. Curb rash on the right hand wheels, some paint scrapes and minor dings in parking lots, and just today a semi truck changing into my lane ahead of me threw a large rock onto the windshield, which thankfully didn't chip (but did scare the hell out of me with the sound). Changed the oil last weekend, checked the recommended maintenance items, and swapped the worn wiper blades for new ones. Later this month I'm going to grab a bunch of quarters and stash them away for the winter ritual of washing away the salt.

I would advise you to read that settlement agreement very, very, very carefully. It is not uncommon for the lawyers to sneak in a release clause that says you *cannot* hit them again for a different lemon issue on the same car.

I took a long time reading the (thankfully short) agreement. I'm barred from trying to seek more damages from these specific incidents, but free to pursue action if issues pop up again in the warranty period.
 

Spectre

The Deported
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Good. It wouldn't have been the first time lawyers had tried to sneak that past to the signer's later sorrow.
 

PelicanHazard

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'13 Dart 1.4T mtx, '03 Ranger, '20 KTM 390 Duke
Another small update: I knew buying a first model year car would have unique issues. This is another one of them. The car uses a dual filament bulb for the front turn signals, parking lights, and DRLs. The dimmer 5w filaments are the parking lights, the brighter 28w filaments are the turn signals and DRLs. Turns out making the DRLs the full-brightness turn signals results in the bulb sockets getting burned after being run for so long.

Picture (from another Dart owner, this is not my car):


The 28w filament gets too hot and burns the plastic socket over time. The socket can be replaced fairly easily, but I'd rather not have this be a wear item. So, I've deactivated the DRLs for now, and in the future I will be replacing the bulbs with LEDs. Which I wanted to do anyways because the front bulbs are the only non-LED turn signals on the car; the rear and mirror-mounted turn lights are LEDs already. Once that's done, I'll reactivate the DRLs.

I'm probably going to wait until I have enough money to also buy the black headlamp housings and fascia applique to give my Dart the signature 'black fascia look', since changing the fascia applique and headlamps involve taking the front bumper cover off and will give me better access into the lower engine bay to mount the LED load resistors.
 

rickhamilton620

has a fetish for terrible cars
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Yoe, PA
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2012 Kia Forte EX
Another small update: I knew buying a first model year car would have unique issues. This is another one of them. The car uses a dual filament bulb for the front turn signals, parking lights, and DRLs. The dimmer 5w filaments are the parking lights, the brighter 28w filaments are the turn signals and DRLs. Turns out making the DRLs the full-brightness turn signals results in the bulb sockets getting burned after being run for so long.

Picture (from another Dart owner, this is not my car):

The 28w filament gets too hot and burns the plastic socket over time. The socket can be replaced fairly easily, but I'd rather not have this be a wear item. So, I've deactivated the DRLs for now, and in the future I will be replacing the bulbs with LEDs. Which I wanted to do anyways because the front bulbs are the only non-LED turn signals on the car; the rear and mirror-mounted turn lights are LEDs already. Once that's done, I'll reactivate the DRLs.

I'm probably going to wait until I have enough money to also buy the black headlamp housings and fascia applique to give my Dart the signature 'black fascia look', since changing the fascia applique and headlamps involve taking the front bumper cover off and will give me better access into the lower engine bay to mount the LED load resistors.

I'm shocked this wasn't discovered during pre-launch testing. You'd think it would have...anyway, LEDs FTW.
 

PelicanHazard

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I'm shocked this wasn't discovered during pre-launch testing. You'd think it would have...anyway, LEDs FTW.

Honestly, I'm not. The Dart was wholly conceived, designed, engineered, and put into production in a very short time frame. It's quite likely that the engineers behind the turn/park/LED lights had very little time once the headlight design was given to them to create the assembly, and thus cut a corner by grabbing an amber bulb out of a parts bin and making the assumption (either consciously or not) that such a thing as the bulb being powerful enough to burn the socket was not considered, saving them engineering time by cutting out some design verification and calculation. I see stuff like this happen at my work too when tight deadlines are imposed; assumptions to cut out some tedious and supposed "unimportant for design acceptance" work are reasoned out with the "We'll hear about it if it's a problem" attitude.
 

Spectre

The Deported
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Another small update: I knew buying a first model year car would have unique issues. This is another one of them. The car uses a dual filament bulb for the front turn signals, parking lights, and DRLs. The dimmer 5w filaments are the parking lights, the brighter 28w filaments are the turn signals and DRLs. Turns out making the DRLs the full-brightness turn signals results in the bulb sockets getting burned after being run for so long.

Picture (from another Dart owner, this is not my car):

That looks suspiciously like typical Fiat-oversight-caused impending fire. :p
 

Perc

Very Odd Looking Vehicular Object
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How can a bulb act as an indicator if it already is burning at full brightness as DRL?
 

PelicanHazard

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How can a bulb act as an indicator if it already is burning at full brightness as DRL?

It's a dual filament bulb?

When the turn signal is activated, the relevant bulb switches on and off. The second filament is dimmer and only for the parking light. So in the daytime the turn signal is "DRL, off, DRL, off, DRL", and at nighttime the turn signal is "DRL, parking light, DRL, parking light"
 

PelicanHazard

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'13 Dart 1.4T mtx, '03 Ranger, '20 KTM 390 Duke
Yesterday marked a year of ownership of the Dart. Given that I've now experienced it in all four seasons, road trips, and two scheduled maintenances, I thought I'd list some stuff I found out about the car that reviews either did not mention or plainly got wrong, trying to capture what it's like to daily drive a Dart. Note that this isn't about comparing it against other cars, or Dodge's apparent crisis in the Dart's identity. Just about what it's like to live with one.
In no particular order:

  1. This car is MASSIVE. Reviews keep harping on it as a plain negative, but there are positives to it. As a negative, you really feel the weight if you try and take some lively corners (probably also due to the not so sporty side bolsters in the seats). As a positive, nothing short of gale force winds disturbs it on the highway. My old Sentra would dance around anytime a big rig or a stiff breeze came about; the Dart just squats down and shrugs off the wind.
  2. It's not a sports car. Some reviews I read tried to make it the SRT4 Neon's successor. It's not. Not even in GT trim. What it is is a competent highway cruiser that's also small enough for a city and can take some thrashing if you find yourself off an interstate and on a fun B road. What aspects of this the forthcoming SRT Dart will correct I can only guess at, but the normal trims are not to be mistaken for competitors to STs, STIs, or anything like that. You will be disappointed if you come in with that mindset.
  3. That said, it's fun around an autocross track. You wrestle it around a bit, and I was quite alarmed when I almost lift-off oversteered into a cone box, but the turbo boost firmly plants you in the seat back any time the fun button is put to the floor, and the brakes can really stop the car when needed, forcing the air out of me the first time I applied them with gusto.
  4. The stock tires are ok, nothing standout. They've lasted over 20,000 miles so far and seem to have enough tread left to make it another 10-15k. Fair in the summer, but mildly shitty in the winter. They get packed with snow pretty easily and lack some off-the-line traction. Wheelspin while starting is sometimes a concern. They're fine for me in and around the city where streets are plowed since I didn't have the money for winter tires, though anyone buying in an area with actual snow and/or lack of plowing should get snow tires. I'm trying to budget in snow and summer tires for next year.
  5. Normal maintenance is easy. I don't really have a full tool set and stubbornly thought what I had was good enough, so the first oil change was an exercise in improvisation, but I got everything required now so oil changes and tire rotations happen easily. There is an access panel on the underside aero treatment to access the oil drain plug; everything else is easily reached from overhead once the engine cover is removed; only two screws and a pop-off joint hold it in place, so removal is easy. The wheels use lug bolts instead of studs and nuts, which have some pros and cons, but I found it just fine.
  6. Extended maintenance might be a bit more involved. The previously mentioned underside aero covers just about everything, so getting to anything deep down in the engine and clutch replacement requires its removal (and a lift). The clutch so far is holding up well, though I did learn how to DD a manual on this car, so time will tell how much life I cut out of the clutch disk by doing that.
  7. The engine does not need to be held above 3000 RPMs to do anything. Whichever reviewers said this were either plagiarizing the first to say it or each imagined themselves as Sebastian Vettel. Here's what I do above 3000 RPMs:
    • Scare the shit out of my girlfriend because cities have speed limits we just passed.
    • Climb very steep hills.
    • Get up to highway speed from one of Western Pennsylvania's infamous stop sign onramps.
    • Autocross
    • Imagine my car as an angry Rubenesque wasp.
    • Curse because I was too caught up in something else to notice I completely missed my shift point.

    That's it. That's what happens above 3000 RPMs. In the lower gears, going too far above 3000 RPMs actually has the disconcerting effect that the engine "runs away" and hits the redline much earlier than expected. And there's simply no need for it. I keep up with all but the most douchebag drivers by shifting up at 3000 RPM. Most of the time I shift even lower than that. If there is one myth about the Dart's 1.4T engine I could permanently erase, it would be this one.
  8. Shifting has long throws and barely any feedback (unless it's cold), but that's fine. Muscle memory selects the proper gear. I haven't picked the wrong one (like 5th instead of 3rd) since a couple months after buying the car. Again, I was learning manual. If it is cold, then 1st, sometimes 2nd, and reverse can be a bit stubborn until the transmission fluid warms up. On really cold days it sometimes refuses to shift into 1st at slow speeds unless I select another gear first, but that usually only happens once early in the trip at the intersection within earshot of my apartment and then doesn't happen again.
  9. The highway miles. The best the computer has reported was 38.something mpg, but fill up division reported 41 mpg the last time I went to Philadelphia and back. This coming year I expect to drive to Columbus and later to Illinois. I won't be in a particular rush (unlike many of my trips to Philly), so I'm going to take it easy and see what mileage happens in the flatlands. Do note that even in a rush, in the Appalachians, the car comes close to or slightly over its EPA mileage.
  10. The limiting factor on road trips is the occupants, not the car. My longest road trip to date was just under 500 miles, from Pittsburgh to Dollywood in Tennessee. On the way back I filled up before leaving Pigeon Forge (where Dollywood is) and didn't have to fill up again until Washington, PA, just about a half hour from my apartment. Then we went to grab dinner and watch a movie (staying awake the whole time) because the car is so comfortable the 8 hour road trip didn't feel like one at all.
  11. The backup camera is needed. It's not offered on lower trims, but it's needed. When my car was having its head unit problems earlier in the year, one of the items that got taken out as a result was the backup camera. This car (and many modern ones, let's spread the blame to current design trends) has a fat ass, a tall trunklid, and poor rearward visibility. Not Camaro/Challenger pillbox poor, but not up to par with economy cars of the 90's and early 2000s. Parking without the backup camera in daylight is a hassle. At night I used the reflections of my taillamps to get my "you're too close" distance and went from there.
  12. Uconnect remains the best infotainment system I've personally used. No doubt MMI or COMAND or even iDrive blow it out of the water, but those cars are well outside of my price range. Among the mass market makes, Uconnect on such a large screen is hard to beat. Responsive, easy to use at speed, works with gloves, and the 8.4" screen makes the relevant info huge. I don't care if this means the car(s) behind me know my playlists include Marina and the Diamonds mixed in with Metallica.
  13. I'm moving forward in my plans to keep this car for another 9 years. I can't guarantee I will: the national average time between crashes is a little under a decade, and April marks 9 years of me behind the wheel; I share the potholed, hilly, and now snowy roads here with plenty of idiots; or something new and shiny could come up in another 4 years when the Dart is paid off that makes a trade worthwhile. I'm still eyeing BMW wagons on the used market. But for the moment, a decade of service is what I want from this car, and I'll enjoy all the time I have with it.
 

SchumacherM

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Glad to hear the 1.4 Multiair is serving its purpose. :) And that you're enjoying the car. :)
 
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