A little while ago, Iinterviewed Phil Edmonston, author of the popular Lemon-Aid books that outline all that can go wrong with specific vehicle models. In the process, I received his latest book. While I'd skimmed it prior to the interview, I finally sat down and read it in depth.
What's wrong with these cars? Plenty, and most of it sounds legit. Edmonston gets his information from manufacturer bulletins, NHTSA reports, and from letters from readers who are (presumably) not happy with their vehicles. For each model, Edmonston lists his own ratings, the vehicle's strengths and weaknesses, and then a "Safety Summary" that includes reader complaints. Among them, you'll find gems like the ones below. Having worked in the service department of car dealerships for many years, I can assure you that Edmonston isn't making these up. That said, while they're few and far between compared to the number of complaints that seem legitimate, I really don't see why these are counted as black eyes against the vehicle:
"If a passenger's head is resting near the door lock button when the door is unlocked, the force of the spring could cause injury."
Manufacturers won't cover rodent damage as warranty.
Buffeting when the rear window is opened is an "aerodynamics flaw."
In crosswinds, vehicle veers left and right.
"Outside rearview mirrors don't show the rear bumper area when backing up."
Windows aren't adequately cleaned off when raised and lowered. (Folks, they're window channels, not squeegees!)
Emergency trunk release doesn't glow in the dark because it doesn't receive enough sunlight. (Edmonston notes that the owner climbed into the trunk to check it. I suppose the owner would be happier with a constantly-live wire and a battery-draining light in there.)
"While parking my car in my garage, I had put it in Park and took my foot off the brake pedal, my 2007 Honda Accord sedan lunged forward hitting my drywall, solar water heater, washer and dryer, then it jumped back and stopped. I was so stunned as I didn't know what was happening here. Instantly the car decided to go in Reverse at an accelerated rate down the hill of my driveway hitting the concrete side of my neighbor's garage, their car, and bounced forward up the hill to hit my house again and stopped at the crest of the hill." (Yes, it could be legit. But it's definitely straining my credibility meter.)
A check light comes on if the gas cap isn't tightened three clicks.
Expensive xenon headlamps are enticing to thieves.
Annoying beep when the seatbelt isn't buckled.
LED taillights blur the vision of drivers behind the car.
Wind can blow the doors shut.
Convertibles have a rear quarter blind spot.
If the rear seats are folded down to carry more cargo, the front seats can't be moved backwards.
Steering wheel gets too hot in direct sunlight.
Rocks break windshields.
"Fire may ignite around the fuel filler nozzle." (So exactly what is located there that would spark?)
And my favorite, a complaint against Volvo: "Airbag sensors are housed in the wheel rims." This owner came to this conclusion when he scrubbed two tires against the curb and the airbags deployed. Ah, those tricky Swedes.