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My Sad Sierra....

Having been a loyal GM customer (3 new vehicles in the last 4 model years) I have to wonder...

I purchased my GMC Sierra on June 26, 1999 from Mitchell Chevrolet/GMC Truck in West Point, MS. I took it back two weeks later because I thought it had a wheel that was not balanced. When I came to pick it up, the service manager told me it was a defect that GM was working to correct and he would let me know when GM had a procedure to fix it. I kept checking back. All the while the vibration was getting worse while he repeatedly assured me GM was working on a solution. The truck vibrated when you first accelerated from a stop. It vibrated between 35 & 40 MPH. It vibrated and shimmied at 65 & 70 mph. The passenger seat vibrates back and forth like a 25-cent motel bed while at highway speeds. The broken seat belt rattles in the background constantly. The dash rattles and is getting louder. During November, I called and he told me the dealership was forced to buy a $10,000 tire machine to combat the vibration problems in the new trucks. He said GM now had a fix for the problem; it entailed replacing my springs and balancing my tires on the new machine. He ordered the parts. They came in and I made an appointment to install them in December. I took the truck in and left it while I was out of town. When I came to pick it up, I was told they determined that new General tires were needed before they could put on the springs. They ordered the tires. I waited and called and waited and called, still no tires. Finally I called back in May, he said, yeah I believe the tires are finally in." I made an appointment for June 12th, planning to leave the truck for an extended period of time and have the many other problems that were piling up corrected at the same time. Included in these were: sticking throttle, whining transmission, pops and creaks from the front springs while backing up, groans from the power steering unit, loud wind noise from the rear windows, rattle in the dash, exploded shock absorber, broken rear seatbelt, premature engagement of the ABS system, rough idle, and it goes dead sometimes if it is not allowed to idle until warm.

Took in the morning of June 12th, they said there was a mix up and did not have a loaner car. I should come back the next day. I return June 13th, and I was given a Buick Century. I might add someone had just dropped it off; it was just plain nasty inside, smelled like smoke, ashes and cigarettes everywhere, my little girl even found a razor blade under the seat. I checked back at end of week. They have not done anything. The next week they balance the tires.... it still vibrates. Two and a half weeks later they have done nothing further. They are supposed to address all the other issues listed above during this visit. Service manager says they are doing it a little at a time will work it all out. Three and a half weeks into this I started talking to him about a GM buy back and tell him I am calling GM for a case number. The next day my truck is in the shop suddenly and they are going to work late that night to get the parts on it. I come in the following morning and they have not worked on it, but promise they are about to start. That afternoon I drive it with new springs. It still vibrates. Next day they swap a drive shaft out of a 2000 Silverado, No help. That afternoon they swap the wheels and tires with the same new truck. At this point it actually vibrates worse. About this time I notice they have dropped by hitch on the ground, bending the light connector housing up. Together we flake bits of paint off of it and laugh in frustration, he then assures me they will replace it. Then he takes me out to drive a couple of 2000ís on the lot. One vibrates, not as bad as mine though. Both have no transmission whine or wind noise however. It is interesting that one has 400 miles on the odometer and a feathered tire on the left front wheel. The Service Manager suggests it is a dealer transfer and they probably swapped a problem tire off of a vibrating customerís truck. He says he will call the GM District Manager and find out how to proceed. The next day I go back twice, by the afternoon he finally says the GM District Manager says to order new tires and that will fix it. New tires? I said we just put new tires on yesterday. He said they must be defective that the new ones would be in spec, stiffer sidewalls. Does that mean the 2000ís on the lot have defective tires? Guess so. My Sierra has been in the shop for 36 straight days as of July 17th and the only problems they claim to have repaired is the sticking throttle and the exploded shock absorber. Oh, one other note, I complained about the nasty loaner car. They gave me the service department truck to drive; it only has 80,000 miles on it. The fun never stops. The GM satisfaction center will not give me the name of the District Manager. I sent GM a certified letter asking for a replacement truck. However, General Motors REFUSED the certified letter. Why should this surprise me? I guess all I can do is wait for the tires. The Service Manager assures me he will have them in 3 days. Last time he ordered tires for me it took 4 months and then he said the ones that came in were the wrong ones! I have no confidence in GM being able to fix my truck properly. The latest repair for vibration that GM has proposed actually includes welding on the frame! 

Update it's July 19th and the Service Manager called to say the wrong tires came in...surprise, surprise, surprise. He says we will have more by July 21st. 

Now it's July 21st and they did not come in...another weekend without my truck. Monday it will be 43 straight days in the shop!!!

Monday July 24th, Service Manager says Fed-ex has not shown up. I call back that afternoon, no tires. He says that they were shipped overnight and he can't understand it.

Tuesday July 25th, I walk in the shop door at 11:30 a.m. My truck is still on the rack with the old tires all around on the ground, as it had been for the last 7 days. I see the service manager and I asked, were are my tires? About that time they are rolling the new General Tires towards my truck. 
I went back later to drive it. The service manger went along. The 65-70 MPH shimmy seems to be gone, but there are still vibrations. They even seem to move from speed to speed. Like harmonics that vary with road conditions or something. The launch shudder is still there at 15-20 and around 40-45. He says he doesn't think he can get that out. I ended up taking the truck to put a few miles on the tires for the afternoon. I can't imagine this will help....I go back and talk with the Service Manager and the General Manager/Co-Owner, Mike McGill. Mike says he will contact the zone rep and get me some answers. With in a day Mike calls back and says the rep will be in town sometime the next week and they will call me to bring it down. 

Well the GM Area Service Rep, Brent Lamour, finally came to look at my Sierra on August 1st. He brought an engineer with him. First he sat down with me and asked me, "Why has your truck been in the shop for five weeks?". I said, "I hope GM and Mitchell GMC was trying to repair it." He was trying to put the length of time my truck had been at the shop off on the dealership and me! I guess we got off to a bad start. He, the engineer and the mechanic went on a test drive with the EVA2, GM electronic vibration analyzer. It seems my dealer never used it on my truck before. This seemed to really irritate Mr. Lamour. They returned and said the 65-70 MPH vibrations were caused by bad tires. I said, well we have tried two complete sets in the last two weeks, how could that be it. The engineer proceeded to tell me that sometimes it takes 10-12 tires to find a "good set". I said OK. What about the "launch shudder" (driveline vibration between 5-15 MPH). The engineer said he would evaluate the pinion height (split in the driveshaft), adjust it by changing the ride height of the bed and the centering of the carrier bearing, then my problem would be resolved. I asked what would happen if I loaded the bed or carried 4 passengers or heavens forbid, tow a trailer. He said I could not expect it to be perfect in all situations, I should expect vibration. I asked why my 97 Silverado had not done it or my Old Suburban or for that manner my wife's Lumina. He just looked disgusted with me. The GM Area Service Rep then said, "what do we need to do to your truck to make you happy?". I said make the vibrations stop and stay stopped and fix all the other stuff: transmission, steering whine, popping coil springs, slapping leaf springs, clicking engine, faulty ABS, spotted leather and the list goes on. He said why don't I just buy it back because no matter what I do you will never be happy. I said OK. First he said he would charge me 19% of the sales price for usage (current miles/100,000). Then he said he would charge me what the MS State Lemon Law states, .20 per mile on the current mileage (19,000). He would do this even though I asked for the problem to be repaired at 1037 miles and have waited patiently and tried to help. I told him that was not fair. He finally said he would charge me $3400, a discount on 2000 miles that the service shop test drives had caused. I asked for an offer in writing. He left without speaking to me or giving me a firm offer. I believe he was trying to intimidate me. He didn't succeed.

On August 8th I finally got a call from the GM Business Center. A guy that dealt with BBB claims there made me an offer....$18,641 on a truck that stickered for almost $28,000. This seemed ridiculous. After a couple of calls back I began to understand what they were doing. When I bought the truck I had $2500 in rebates and a trade valued at $17,250. The rebates included a $1000 class action settlement certificate from GM for owners of the 73-87 GM trucks that had exploding gas tanks. It also included a $400 rebate for receiving a recent college degree (within two years). The Business Center Rep told me I would LOSE these two items in the buyback and they would not give me a new settlement certificate on a new truck. Again this is ridiculous and unfair. Additionally, in Mississippi you pay sales tax only on the difference of the trade and the cash price. On the Sierra I paid $388. Since the replacement truck would be a cash deal I get to pay $1250 in tax an extra $900 of expense! In all, I estimate the buyback would cost me over $7000. It would be cheaper to just trade the truck in at this point. My dealer said it was worth $20,000 on a trade, that is $1359 more than the $18,641 GM is offering. I ended up calling the "Buy Back Group" of the GM Business Center. There is a whole group of people there that handle just Buy Backs and another group that handles BBB arbitration. I explained my situation to a very nice lady. She said if the Rep wanted to he could set up a "trade repurchase" and I would be able to keep the rebates, certificates, etc. that I had already invested in the truck. Arbitration was scheduled for the 22nd. Although, I don't think the BBB settlement will be any better unless they can force the Trade Back vs. the Buy Back.. I decide I will go and use the outcome as a basis for litigation. My state includes all court costs and consequential costs in lemon law awards and I am sure I would prevail. By the way after new shackles, springs, driveshaft, 9 tires, front hubs and another new tire on order, I still have vibration that is getting worse by the day as the tires wear irregularly again. 

At this point I have begun e-mailing the stories I am getting daily to a list of GM executives and key internal people. I hope this will show GM that I am persistent and not going away. My dealer, Mike Mitchell also is trying to work out a deal with the Buy back division. All the while the BBB arbitration date is getting closer. Finally tired of arguing and only two days to arbitration which is 200 miles away, I tell Mike that if GM will do a Trade Buy Back on the factory order of a new 2001 truck, that I will pay the $3400 usage.  I would recapture all the rebates, certificates, plus be able to use the incremental GM Card dollars I have earned over he last 14 months. GM says they will do it but I need to locate a truck not order one. So we begin to try and locate one. Apparently, leather GMCs are not being built yet. There is only one truck in 300 air miles of my location. So I drive a couple of 2001s again ... and I feel some vibrations ... and I start asking myself ... have I lost my mind? Well I decide I can't do it. Not another shaker. I'll get a Tahoe or Yukon. They get one in that's perfect that day. I test drive it ...no shakes. I walk in say I want it! You would have thought I took out a gun and shot at em. They don't want to do that. They make too much money on them. Allocations are too hard to get. They sell the Tahoe to someone else that day!!!

ALL I WANT IS A TRUCK THAT DOESN'T SHAKE. 

Finally after days of negotiations with the Buy Back Center, the dealer trying to get a special allocation, they offer up a new deal. Hell, they'll waive the $3400 usage, just give me back everything I paid. I tell them I gotta think about it ... I really don't know why just reflexes I guess. So we look to see what is coming in from GM in the near future. There is a Yukon that is loaded up, more than I want. But it is a way out. I say OK lets do it. Of course we still don't have anything in writing from GM ... the dealer says trust me. so the Yukon comes in and he says just come get it before a salesman tries to sell it. I go to pick it up and they want me to write them a check for it. Of course the numbers are less than I was told and I don't trust GM to go through with the Buy Back so I  said, "are you crazy  ... just keep the Yukon, we'll find another". Finally, the dealer gets involved again and tells me to take it home and he will get something in writing from GM the next day. The next day we get the figures corrected. They promise to pay me the full amount I paid for the truck plus $400 for the bed liner. I never asked for $400, just that they reimburse me for it. Don't know where they got their figure, but it pleased me. So I paid the difference in the price and the check GM owed me and drove off in my new Yukon. The next day,I did notice a hole in the rear 50/50 leather seat and showed it to the dealer. They said even though it was only two days old with 400 miles, they could not replace the seat bottom. They could only have an upholstery shop recover it but the Service Manager advises, "that they don't look right after they do that". I still have the hole.....

Finally, the paper work shows up to settle the Buy Back. I go down and sign several papers. One interesting note. They have a form that the dealer HAS to fill out showing that the vehicle has been repaired. Everyone in the room is confused. They finally decide to open a new shop ticket on the truck. Transportation has already been arranged to take the truck to the Auto Auction in Jackson, MS. However the paper work I saw said the dealer MUST repair the vehicle before it is shipped. Now what do you think a dealer that has hassled with a lemon is going to do .... I'll bet they sign and ship as is. GM has cover their butt again. And some poor hard working person is going to get my lemon. Sure doesn't seem fair...

If you live in Mississippi and just purchased a white 1999 GMC pickup, check the VIN number on the Buy Back paperwork posted here. If it is the lemon print all this out and go raise hell!

I guess my story is over. I will try to maintain the site, possibly enlisting help from other owners. So if you have some spare time drop me a line and I'll put you to work.

Clay

 
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