by Randy Kerdoon (Talking About Cars podcaster and website editor)
First, let me say…THANK YOU HONDA for making this entire story possible. (Don’t want to appear ungrateful or anything). Now, my story
Once upon a time I drove a 2007 Dodge Magnum R/T. Black on black, it was car the I was dreaming about for years. But as often happens, when my daughter joined a travelling cheerleading group, I knew driving her all over the Western U.S. in a 21 MPG car was going to hurt the wallet. So, I decided I needed a car that had mileage beginning…with a 4.
Being 2011, and loving “different” cars, I checked into the popular Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and new Chevy Volt. Rented them, drove them. Loved the Volt, but this was 2011, before Chevy lowered the price, realizing people weren’t going to buy a $60,000 car just because it was all electric. The Prius was everywhere (to me a negative). Didn’t see many Insights and liked the look, liked the spaceship like dash and the average mileage began with a “4”. One night, while my daughter was practicing her cheer moves, I zipped over to the nearby Honda dealer. Due to some fire in Japan, stock was low, and there was ONE Insight left on the lot. After about a week of phone calls and the usual haggling, I grabbed it. It was fun at first drive. Usually the mileage was 45+…..sometimes even 50 mpg! Then when my daughter started driving and went to college in San Diego, I handed her the keys. She would get 54 mpg!! (that’s my conservative driving girl!!)
Eventually I got the car back…and received a letter in the mail. RECALL…TAKATA AIR BAGS need replacement. (okay) METAL SHARDS CAN FLY INTO YOUR FACE IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT (geez) AIR BAGS WOULD BE AVAiLABLE THIS SUMMER. (wait, what?) This letter arrived in FEBRUARY. So what the hell am I supposed to do with a hybrid that can shred my face if some bozo drifts out of his lane for 3-4 MONTHS? I called Honda. I was told, don’t worry, we’ll rent a car for you….AND PAY FOR IT!! (Yay Honda!!) My free ride in the candy store was about to begin!
As of this writing, in about 4 months, i’ve rented no less than SEVEN cars. From a Ford Focus hatchback to a Dodge 1500 Hemi Truck….from a Dodge Challenger to a Chevy Camaro Convertible…the kids at Enterprise Rent-a-Car know me by my first name (and not because I’m an LA Sportscaster in my real job). An Enterprise executive once noted a twitter post I tweeted about Enterprise and the car menagerie i’m driving, wrote me back and offered to help me locate the cars I really wanted to drive next!
All this, while my Hybrid Honda sits outside the house forlornly covered in dust (I have to promise Honda I will not drive the car)…the batteries are dead, dead, totally dead, waiting for that replacement Takata Air Bag to arrive. I charged the car up a couple of times….revved the engine a bit, turned it off, and two days later the car was dead again. I called a couple of times….and I was told…”another 7-10 days”. That was 3 weeks ago, and strangely, I’m not ticked off!
I’m not alone here. There must be a million other stories out there of people waiting to get their Takata Air Bags replaced, and renting cars until that happens. I’m just having more fun than most!
Once the call comes in that it’s time to bring in my car for it’s replacement air bag and my car rental fun ends, i’ll post a review of the cars I drove, and the rankings I’ve given them. Oh, and likely the car i’ll be trading that Insight in for…..about the time gas shoots up to $8 a gallon and I beg to get my Insight back!!
NOW AN UPDATE!! Apparantly Takata is having some problems getting the replacement air bags made. Now Honda tells me my car will not have it’s replacement part until late August or early September!! That’s 6-7 months of my car sitting on the side of the road. Looks like my review of rental cars will be longer and later than expected. Stay tuned!!