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Just when you think you've heard everything

A friend’s husband just bought a new car. He took it in to the dealership because the fuel gauge was reading empty even right after filling it up, the backup camera was not working, and “sensor error” kept getting displayed on the screen. To me, all of this happening at once points to a problem with the central computer.

Nope. Dealership said the fuel gauge won’t reset and show the actual fuel level unless you top the tank off, by design. And the sensor error is because snow has built up on the sensor (erm… Except that we don’t have any snow here yet, so where did it come from, and why does it still display the error after being pulled out of the nice warm service bay and getting a car wash?). And the backup camera won’t work unless the sensors aren’t erroring.

I told her to tell them to either admit they were lying and fix the problem, or take the car back for a full refund including trade-in.

Three strikes and they’re OUT!

This wouldn’t be a Toyota at a Toyota service department would it? Really they are getting a very bad reputation.

This wouldn't be a Toyota at a Toyota service department would it? Really they are getting a very bad reputation.

Must be a local thing…Here…they are one of the ONLY trusted dealerships around. That and one loan Ford dealership in Goffstown NH.

Maybe you don’t know…but dealerships are franchised. They are NOT owned by the manufacturer. Seems real weird to me that the Toyota dealership would have a bad reputation…but the same GM dealership that they own doesn’t have a bad reputation.


I wouldn’t be surprised. My local Toyota dealer is the biggest in the state.

Also, one of the worst. Sleazy salespeople everywhere. It is like you walked into one of those dealerships from a movie.

Parts are actually more expensive their than the Lexus dealership across the street. amazing.

in fact, I can’t remember a time I’ve ever had a good experience at any Toyota dealership in the last few years. All of their showrooms are absolutely massive, yet their service and quality is extremely lacking.

We have 4 Toyota dealerships here and by and large they are competent and honest. The one I go to is owned by the same family that owns a GM dealership, and was noted for their poor service. I even had a windshield replaced (warranty) there that allowed SNOW to get on my dashboard! Yet, the Toyota dealer does do good work although they constantly want to sell me things I don’t need.


Nope. Nissan. Though really any brand can have a bad apple dealership. The local BMW place played bait and switch with my mom when she bought her X3.

Also, one of the worst. Sleazy salespeople everywhere

That has to do with the Dealership…and NOT Toyota. There’s a Nissan dealership in NH that is a total sleaze. So when I bought my 98 Pathfinder I drove 20 miles past that dealer to another Nissan dealer who is an EXCELLENT dealer. One of the best I ever dealt with. So two Nissan dealerships within 20 miles from each other…and one is a total sleaze…and the other is excellent.

I know that.

I’m just saying, in my experiences at several Toyota dealerships in two states, they seem to be very, very, pushy compared to other dealerships I stopped into.

KIA dealerships seem to be the least pushy out of the bunch.

I was looking for used cars, so I visited every dealership in various towns around 50 miles from me.

These are the only 2 places that treated me very well, and there was no pressure whatsoever. The philosophy seemed to be “the car will sell itself”

Saturn used car sales

Hertz used car sales

In both places, the salesman were dressed decent. Nice slacks, a summer sweater, decent shoes.
Unlike those other places where the salesman look like they want to model for GQ . . . and don’t know the first thing about cars. In each case, the salesmen were middle aged. They didn’t seem like they had to prove anything.

I would have bought from either place, but Hertz happened to have the car I wanted. Even though I didn’t really like the Saturn used cars, I talked to the guy for awhile and he even let me look in the shop, after I told him I turn wrenches.

When I bought my used Camry from the Volvo dealership last year, the salesman was not pushy, but he pushed me off onto some other lady, who did try to sell me some crap.

I’ve found how you are treated is based on luck of the draw, not the brand of vehicle. You might get a slimeball salesman, and you might get an actual human being.

I’ve been to all kinds of dealerships that had slimeball salespeople, including Saturn. Through experience, I’ve learned to ask to speak to the sales manager and ask to be assigned a reasonable salesperson.


Just curious here . . .

When you go up to the sales manager, how do you phrase your request?

The brand of the vehicle has NOTHING to do with how you are treated. I can show you good and bad dealers from every manufacturer. Each dealership runs them differently.

What you will find is there are many very large national dealerships. But everyone of those national dealerships I know is with multiple manufacturers.

Of the dealerships I’ve been to, the Mazda/Subaru dealership was probably the best one I’ve been to. They allowed me to test drive a couple vehicles without a salesman in the car; something I’d never experienced before while car shopping. The salesman I dealt with wasn’t pushy, and since I told him I was willing to wait while my car was being built at the factory(wanted a certain color and they didn’t have it on the lot), he didn’t even try and push me into buying one from their lot. Though, I think I totally threw him for a loop when he started talking MPGs and I told him it didn’t really care, since I don’t drive that much for it to really matter; the look on his face was priceless.

The BMW/Mini dealership also allowed me a test drive of a Mini by myself, but, even though many salespeople were around, none asked/offered assistance while I looked around the showroom or the sales lot. Not really sure if that’s good or bad, but it was odd.

My experience with the Ricart mega mall wasn’t that great. Granted, I went on a sunday morning, so sales would be slow anyhow, but to see 4 salesmen standing around outside waiting for someone to park their car so they could walk up and open the door for you was a bit much.
I went there looking for a certain vehicle, but was wanting to walk the lot to see if anything else might have tickled my fancy(spent an hour and a half in a car to get there, I wanted to stretch my legs a bit), but they didn’t want me doing that, they wanted to bring the vehicles up to me at the sales building.

Definitely sounds like a run-a-round, they are just saying something to get the customer to go away. But I suppose these days with the fancy computer systems the engineers design into the gadget laden cars it is possible the fuel tank has to be topped off at least one time (for a brand new car, or if the battery goes dead) in order for the tank calibration to initialize. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt on that one, so the thing to do is top off the tank, and see if that fixes that fuel gauge problem.

One time I had a desk top a that if it was displaying an error message, I couldn’t turn it off. But I couldn’t get rid of the error message without turning the computer off. A classic Catch 22. So while it seems weird I admit, it is quite possible that when any error message is being displayed, the error message is given ownership of the screen, and the back up camera won’t work. But if snow on the sensor causes this error message, well, that’s a problem the manufacturer needs to address with a software update – and soon.

I’ve told this story here before, but I had a fuel pump relay problem with a car years ago. The dealer shop had the week prior installed new wiring to the fuel pump relay circuit to address a recall. It caused the fuel pump relay to burn out, made it smell really bad, and the fuel pump to run even if the engine wasn’t running. So I took the car in for service again, but before I dropped it off I marked the burned out fuel pump relay by taking a small triangular file and filing a little notch in the plastic cover, near one corner. I also noticed the other side of the plastic case had melted and warped.

When I explained the situation, the shop manager said it was “impossible” the tech had mis-wired the fuel pump circuit, and the fuel pump was “supposed” to run all the time, even if the car wasn’t running. But he said he’d take a look at it. When I came back to pick up the car, I asked if they had found the wiring error they made, fixed it, and had replaced the fuel pump relay with a new one? The manager said “No, there was nothing wrong”. I immediately noticed upon starting the car the fuel pump no longer ran with the engine off. And I pulled the fuel pump relay, and it was a new one, not the warped one I had marked. And the wiring had been corrected. I returned to the office and showed the new fuel pump relay to the manager. I showed where I had marked the old one, where the old one was warped, and that the old one had a burn smell to it, but not this one. He said “Whatever! That’s the same relay! Nothing was wrong!”. … lol …

Let's give them the benefit of the doubt on that one, so the thing to do is top off the tank, and see if that fixes that fuel gauge problem
Except that he's had it several weeks and has filled it up many times.

And the snow on the sensor was obvious BS, because where I live, we don’t have any snow to get on the sensor.

I asked if they had found the wiring error they made, fixed it, and had replaced the fuel pump relay with a new one? The manager said "No, there was nothing wrong"

That happened to me back when I bought my Acura. There was a problem that I can’t remember now that required them to dig into the dash. When I got it back, the nav system no longer talked. They had forgotten to connect the center speaker. I brought it back, they said that was impossible, took it back for awhile, gave it to me, and said nothing was ever wrong. Of course, the speaker worked just fine after that. I figure they lied about it so they wouldn’t have to enter “fixed a dumb mistake” into their service database and possibly get in trouble with the bosses.

Some fuel gauges won’t change if the tank is filled with the ignition in the “on” or “run” position. The ingnition must be cycled before a significant change in fuel level will be displayed.

Snow sensor? You must be referring to a park assist sensor. Why did he accept the vehicle back with an inoperative back-up camera/park assist system?

I have been with the Local Toyota dealership for 25 years (in addition to a couple others in buying cars). I can’t generalize and say they are bad as this one has been pretty straight forward, buying and service. Are they perfect ? No. Are they expensive if you believe their hype ? Yes. But, they have been competitive in all pricing when pressed and like most dealerships, realistic when they know, that you know what you are talking about. But, go in unprepared, and you can spend a lot of money on the owner’s kid’s college fund.

I tell them upfront, I won’t pay for some of the services…and we negotiate or I go somewhere else. One time when a writer was trying to sell me a service package and I listened politely, the manager who had to deal with me before, came over and said to the writer…" save your breath, Mr… Just isn’t interested, so don’t waste his time and just ask him what he is willing to let us do". Then he just smiled at me, wished me a nice day and walked away. Saved me some time breaking in another service writer. Be firm, do your research but treat them with respect and you generally get it back. They also know I will have some services done by them but others done by a couple of independents. You let them know they are competing for your $$$$$.

So, I agree it depends on the individual dealership.

Shadowfax–I don’t understand why anyone would settle for that type of BS from a dealership’s service department without kicking things up to the corporate level.

Has the car’s owner contacted Nissan at the US corporate level?
And, if not–why not?

As to returning the car for a full refund, that is only likely to happen under the aegis of The Lemon Law, and most of those laws specify that the defect has to be one that, “materially affects the safety or drivability” of the car, so that people can’t return cars for a bad audio system or something to that effect. But…Lemon Law proceedings go through the manufacturer/importer, NOT through the dealership, so one way or another, the car’s owner needs to get Nissan corporate involved.

If the car’s owner wants to proceed via the Lemon Law route, then he has to give the dealership three attempts to fix the problem. However, since these defects–annoying though they may be–do not seem to be “Lemon Law-able”, I really think that the best strategy is to refer the problems to Nissan at the US corporate level.

One of the problems with trying to figure out what is going is “The Telephone Game”. You know, the old game where a message is passed from person to person and in the end the message is completely garbled.

Here we have 3 people between us and the source. “Snow”? That might be something else that is being described as “Like snow”.