Off Topic, frustrating electrical problems. Had to vent

A couple of years ago I gave my son my 26K mile Ram Promaster City van, built-in Turkey, and believe a lot of Fiat parts? Van now has 90K miles. The transmission acts up and does not shift. When I had the van the battery cracked and dripped acid on trans harness that was replaced under warranty. Van at the dealer for 2 months now and has been picked up on 3 occasions when told it was fixed. They replaced many parts not related to transmission to the tune of $3400. on my credit card. Dealer has given up. A transmission shop (AAmco) thinks it is a “Can Bus C” problem and they don’t have the software equipment to address only dealers. There had been a Can Bus recall years ago for this on some vans. Trying to find another dealer to take a look but they are short staff because of Covid? I have found new car dealer repair shops are terrible. I no longer take my cars to them even for a free oil change. I have considered junking the van and giving my son my 15K mile 2019 Honda Ridgeline but I can not even replace it because of low inventories at dealers. I was offered $10K more for the Ridgeline than I paid for it! I knew when I bought the Ram it was a cheap crap van but would be fine for the few miles I would put on it? Won’t do that again.

I think a lot of us feel your pain. The real troubling fact is - It’s not going to get any better. To gain every ounce of performance from today’s vehicles the Electronics Guru’s and software engineers have taken center stage. This component talks to that component via xxx Bus and when something doesn’t work WE, the owners, are left high and dry! We’re at the mercy of the Dealerships, the only one’s with Factory Trained (maybe) Technicians (not really mechanics of bygone days) and lots of specialized electronic gadgets to locate the problem. If the vehicle doesn’t have an OBD2 port, they’re lost!!!
Buying something else, you’ll run into the same problem. I’d suggest looking for something affordable with LOTS of dealerships around, etc. that can affect repairs.
Was not aware Ram vans were made in Turkey? If Fiat is involved all bets are off IMHO!!!

Good luck in this world of complicated electronics.



New cars and trucks are built like a computer or cell phone
They are better, more reliable and are maintenance free up to the last day of warranty
I will repeat
The day the warranty is up, dump it


For my every day car I usually buy certified two or three year old cars. Porsche in particular has very generous warranties on their used cars. I’ve had BMW, Porsche and Volvo certified used cars. I wouldn’t want to own any of them without a manufacturer’s warranty.

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You guys really have to stop telling me stories like this. I know some day I will not be able to get away with only driving my E or a Vega but this type of thing makes me want to delay buying a new car as long as possible (not to mention that I generally hate new car styling). I don’t consider myself the best mechanic but I have not taken any of my cars to a repair shop for decades so don’t know what it is like anymore. My cousin also recently told me a nightmare dealer story with his few years old Infiniti. I love not being held hostage especially to a dealer.

68 E-type FHC

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David, I’ll probably jinx myself but here goes.
2016 Ford F-150 Zero problems (and it does NOT have an obnoxious computer screen tacked on to the dashboard. I consider that to be a feature, not a bug)
2018 VW Atlas- Not trouble free as a water pump was replaced under warrantry but so far nothing electrical)

Maybe a lesson is to get something that is based on a ubiquitous platform and hope for herd immunity!


In the UK in the 1960s Rootes built a van called the Atlas. It was awful and I think they only sold a few thousand. We had a Rootes main dealer in the town I went to school in and despite their presence I only ever saw about 2 or 3 of them.

The wheels were mounted very far into the bodywork which made it tilt alarmingly when cornering and anything in the back went all over the place.

The engine was mounted in the front and when braking heavily, after first locking up the rear wheels would then leave the road altogether. At that time it would be unsteerable. Great fun if you like that kind of thing :rofl:


Through the years and among my family members, I’ve been pretty successful in keeping several makes/models out of the shop and performing repairs myself, for the most part. Having a decent ODB-II scanner, repair manuals and wiring diagrams, and the Internet have been critical!

1992 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS
1995 Chevy Camaro Z28 (still have - son’s car now)
1997 Pontiac Firebird
1999 Dodge Grand Caravan
2003 Ford Taurus SES
2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse (still have - younger son’s car)
2008 Chrysler Town & Country
2016 Kia Optima SXL (still have - my daily driver)
2017 Kia Sportage SX (still have - wife’s car)

The only real time I was significantly stymied was last year with the 2016 Optima. The car ran and drove fine but I was getting an ABS light, AEB (auto electronic braking) light, traction control light, and my adaptive cruise control wasn’t working. I wasn’t able to get the Kia Optima-specific files I needed for my $100 Autel scanner, so I was in the dark a bit. A local, independent shop, with their $10,000 diagnostic equipment was not able to either!! I ended up taking it to the dealer just to get it fixed. Turned out to be the left rear wheel speed sensor causing all those symptoms. The speed sensor wasn’t like the ones on my other cars (sensor just pops into a hole in the housing and is secured with a bolt), it is built into the rear of a hub housing so the rear hub needed to be removed. Paid $280 for them to replace it and I’m not sure I could have done it for any cheaper as I don’t own or have a good source for repair or parts manuals. Hell, I’d rather work on the Jag anyway - it’s more satisfying!!


You mean the ones that look like an electronic tombstone sitting on the dash? I don’t like the look of those either.

Right. Think of the mechanic you trusted and revered decades ago to tune your engine, grind your valves, or reline your brakes. Now ask him to fix your laptop computer or cell phone and see what happens!

I think this is good advice. If you buy something very common and mainstream with lots of dealers there’s a greater chance that, whatever problem comes along, the fix has already been discovered.


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When I got my wife her new Genesis I did something I never do, buy an extended warranty. The car has 100K mile 10-year warranty but does not cover electronics, for not much $ the electronics are covered. Free oil changes are included with the purchase but they always do more harm to the car. I don’t know how to put this thing on my lift? a search comes up blank. The entire bottom of the car is undercover, need to poke around to find something solid for lift points. When the dealer last serviced car they did not change cabin filter as stated on invoice, and used a poor grade of Peak oil on this twin turbo engine. I will not take this car back to them if I can avoid it.

And that’s the big problem with modern cars. If you can’t get the programming information that’s specific to your car, you’re really stuck.


My daily driver is a 37 year old Jag V12. Alternates are a 1995 Ford truck and 1976 Triumph.

Keeping oldies on the road does require a bit of effort as it seems that “something” always needs a bit of attention. But it’s all DIY-able and, generally, with comparatively small expense.

OTOH, it’s a lot like owning a boat. If you don’t enjoy the upkeep, you’re sunk…no pun intended.

Not that I haven’t been tempted to buy something newer. Last year was especially challenging with respect to the Jag. But, I blame myself. I tempted the fates by being overly boastful as how trouble-free the car had been over the recent years. They knocked me down a few pegs; lessen learned :slight_smile: Still, less frustrating then the XJR/6 that I drove for years, aptly nicknamed “The Tormentor”



Wise words: now that the Rover is back to ‘toy’ status, I’ll get it in the shop this spring, and replace the front and rear windscreen seals, and put in the new brake master.

They weren’t cheap, but given their unique design and rarity, with shipping from the Mother Country, it was ~$335, which isn’t awful.

I’ll try to video document the process of changing the windscreen seals, because you can do both of them in one day, easily, no special tools, and no rope needed!

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I have no plans to get another car but know that the day might come when I physically cannot do the work required to keep the old cars going as daily drivers. I am in the thinking stage about configuration for renovation of my garage so that I can have a lift installed. Manhandling and contorting while laying on my back is still possible for me but rapidly losing its charm. The Vega parts supply could run out too. Glad they made 2 million of them or it would have run dry long ago. E-type parts are a lot easier to find.

68 E-type FHC

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I suspected that might be part of the answer; I’ve oft wondered the same about myself. I fear arthritis might be my undoing


Glenn, obviously you had a very frustrating experience with your vehicle. It “should” be able to be fixed.

It reminds me of a friend of mine who’s wife was in the hospital. The doctors tried all sorts of test. The bills piled up (most paid by us/insurance.) He was frustrated. The nurses said take her somewhere else, the doctors here have no clue. She eventually passed away. If I were in his shoes, I would have been just as frustrated or maybe more. But what can be done? I believe all these highly trained doctors did NOT know what to do. I believe they tried. I believe they wanted to help. But they did not know what to do. Should they not have tried at all? Should they not have done tests that did not give an answer? Should they not have been paid for trying and testing since they never found the problem? When they failed at the first test, should they have walked away from the problem, said too bad?
Dealer auto mechanics are often trained, but not to the extent the medical people are. They often were not the tops in their class. They are not pulling in the top wages of our economy. Most are proud of what they do and love nothing better than to solve the problem. But as acknowledged, as these cars become more and more complex, the problems occasionally become very elusive. Anyone who works on this stuff often have some stories of problems that were extremely elusive. Just review some of the posts here on J-L. These cars are the “simple” ones and people go round and round replacing part after part trying to fix them.
I posted this sometime ago:
Mech vs doctor.pdf (262.7 KB)


I well remember my dealership days. Sometimes weird stuff would come along and ‘the factory guys’ would visit to assist…and they often walked away stumped. Sometimes it was easier for the factory to just repurchase the car rather than devote more resources to it.

Yup. And we have all the time in the world to research, test, and tinker. No management breathing down our necks that there still five other cars on our slate to finish before 5:00 PM. Nor reminding us that we need to produce xxx-billable hours every day to keep our job…despite being buried in a mystery car where there’s little hope of recouping all the time spent.


A positive experience at the Riverside Ca. Honda dealer.
We recently bought a 2012 Honda Pilot in excellent condition, almost like a new car. After a few days it suddenly would only start and run for literally one second before dying. I had no clue what was causing this and with thoughts of replacing fuel pump, computer and who knows what else on a try it and see basis, decided to have it flat bedded into the Honda dealer for repair. I followed the truck to the dealers to try?? to explain what was happening. Left them to it and started to drive home. Half way home I got a call from the dealer, “Your car is fixed, come and get it”.
It turned out my wife had put a metallic ring covered in fake diamonds around the ignition switch (she called it bling) and this was blocking the signal from the programmed key. ??? I didn’t know she had done this but would NEVER have suspected or found this. How the dealers found it so quickly I have no idea.
Good news was it was fixed super quickly, and they didn’t even charge me for it.



Harvey is correct 2016/2017 is the last drop dead almost possible repair
2018 to current is totally different
Mandatory sensors, recorders, satellite recordings really started in 2018ish
By 2022 there is really nothing you can do
Plus the tech is 100 years old in 10 months
The minute the warranty goes
It goes……