Thursday, October 09, 2008

Genesis Revisited

Had to take the Genesis back to the dealer's yesterday to correct a glitch. When I walked into the garage at 7am, the first thing I heard was the loud whirr of the cooling fan. However, that fan had not been on when I went out for a walk at 12:30 am, and there was no reason it should be on at all--the car hadn't been driven since 5:30 the previous day.

Of course, the continually running fan had drained the battery to the point that I had to get a service truck sent out to jump-start the car. (Since it was in the garage and there was no way to put it into neutral until it cranked, it was a good thing that the Genesis' battery is in the trunk, underneath the floor mat--it made it easy to hook up the jumper cables.) Got it to the dealer's, and they verified that the problem was actually an issue that had cropped up in a few other cars recently--a cooling sensor switch that had failed, deceiving the engine into thinking that it was hot when it wasn't.

New problem: Hyundai had all the replacement sensor switches in one warehouse in New Jersey. No chance of getting it fixed that day, so they gave me a loaner. Alas, it wasn't another Hyundai Genesis--or a Hyundai Santa Fe or a Hyundai Azera--but a Ford Fusion that I found myself driving.

I didn't think much about it until I cranked the car. It was loud, uneven, and coarse; it reminded me of an old pickup truck, not a contemporary car. This wasn't an old beater of a car, either; it was a 2008 with only 20,000 miles on it. All of the sudden, I remembered why neither Susan nor I had bought an American car in thirty-eight years; this was so substandard, that I was surprised Ford would want it to go out with their emblem on it.

The car was sluggish and weak; the seating was functional but unappealing; the sound system was boomy and muddy. There was nothing about this car that would ever make me consider owning one. I pointed out to them that had they given me a Santa Fe--a vehicle that Susan was considering for a purchase--they might have generated a sale. No chance this car would generate anything other than disappointment...

When I talked to Hyundai Consumer Affairs, I mentioned my disappointment. They seemed to take it seriously, as did Jamie, the sales manager at Woodstock Hyundai; the next day, I heard from him that had he known of the problem, he would have gotten me a Hyundai no matter what. He offered to have an Azera sent out to me right then, but the service department had told me the part had arrived and my car would be ready in an hour, so there was no need for that extra effort (although it was much appreciated).

Picked up the car this afternoon; they had to replace the battery as well, since they were getting anomalous readings indicating that it wasn't holding a full charge.

End result, I got a repaired car and a restored confidence in Hyundai's support for Genesis owners. I also learned that sadly enough, American cars had done nothing to close the gap between them and their foreign competitors. I was honestly surprised; I figured that with the move towards globalism, car manufacturers had taken steps to ensure that everyone gained from the improvements in technology and manufacturing standards. The Fusion proved me wrong; I couldn't believe that a Honda Accord competitor would have such poor performance and such shoddy fit and finish. At one point, I had toyed with the idea of a Lincoln MKS or an MKX; now, knowing that Lincoln is a Ford division, I don't know that I could feel comfortable spending so much money on a company that produced such low-end mediocrity.

(The last American car either of us bought? A 1970 Mustang Mach I, purchased by Susan in September of 1970 and disposed of in 1973 after several years of phantom stalls, start failures, hot-engine warnings, and trips to the dealership. The dealer never solved a single one of the problems; had this occurred today and not in 1970, the car would have qualified for replacement under the lemon law, but back then there was no such thing. Pretty vehicle, but the most unreliable car either of us has ever owned...)

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