My letter to Mazda

Mazda North American Operations
Attn: Customer Assistance
Mazda North American Operations
7755 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618-2922

December 10, 2007

To Whom It May Concern:

Subject: Lemon Law Return of my RX-8

I am writing you today in regards to my 2007 RX-8, which has spent more time in the shop for warranty work than I have spent driving it. I’m not kidding. My car has been in the shop a dozen times for warranty work. It has been in the shop four times alone for failures in the passenger airbag system. It is still in the shop for its fourth attempt to repair the airbag system, and as of this moment it has spent FIFTY-FOUR (54!!!) days in the shop on this one problem alone. My patience has run out.

The only thing more outrageous than my car’s time in the shop has been Mazda’s failure at customer service. While the folks at the shop have been helpful, professional, and sympathetic; they are just as frustrated as I at my vehicle’s frequent problems. When I ask what Mazda is going to do about my problems they say it is out of their hands and I need to talk to the dealership or call the 800 number. I talked to the service department manager, who said to let him know if there was anything he could do; but when I asked what he could actually do he admitted that he had no leverage with Mazda and couldn’t really do anything to help me. I talked to my salesman, and asked if he could help me get out from under this lemon without me having to hire a lawyer; and after a few days of research and phone calls he told me there was nothing he could do and that I would need to call the 800 number. Finally, I called the 800 number and as soon as I said I was tired of how often my car was in the shop, and that according to California law my car was a lemon, I was told that they couldn’t talk to me anymore and that I needed to write a letter. Given my experience so far, I have found my customer service interactions less than satisfactory. Good thing I haven’t sent in that survey yet…

So, here we are. In no uncertain terms, my car clearly meets the guidelines and criteria for lemon law return as listed on the California Attorney General’s website. I am going to return this car to Mazda via the lemon law protections guaranteed to California consumers. Take an hour, download my service history for the above referenced VIN, and marvel at the many problems I have had. Then give me a call and let me know whether or not Mazda is going to stand behind their claims of superior customer service and customer satisfaction, and follow the California lemon law guidelines, and offer buy my car back. If I don’t receive a phone call from Mazda within 48 hours of receipt of this letter, as noted on the return receipt, I will be hiring an attorney as this has gone on more than long enough.

Chris Knight

More car foo

Well, damn… I don’t get my car back today. When the claims agent at State Farm said I was getting it back Friday I thought she meant this Friday. The shop says next Friday.

Ah, well. I am really enjoying all the time spent on my bike.


Shock Sensor Hell

I’ve posted about this once before, but I never posted a follow-up. Mazda did finally get my alarm system working, with the shock sensor. It took six months. Six months that were a pain in my arse. Here is how it went.

  1. I buy my RX-8, and order a shock sensor upgrade before I even left the lot.
  2. One week later the part is in, and I take my car in. They install the part, but it won’t calibrate. They order a new one and give me back my car.
  3. A week later the new one comes in. They install it. Still not working. Someone touches it and realizes it is hot to the touch. They yank it and call Mazda. Mazda says that they need to re-work the wiring diagram for my model of car. They give me my car back again.
  4. A few weeks later, they claim to have an updated wiring diagram. I take my car in. They install the sensor.
  5. I notice pretty much immediately that my car doors no longer auto-lock. (While this is not the default setting, it is an optional setting I had activated during one of my service trips.) The shock sensor is also so sensitive it goes off for loud mufflers and stereos.
  6. I took my car in to have the shock sensor sensitivity tuned down, and to have the auto-locking re-enabled. They tuned down the sensor, but could not get auto-locking to work.
  7. The car alarm would still go off at every rumble, which is a pain in the arse when there is a hangout for a local bike club just down the street. So, I take it in again and inquire as to why the auto-lock isn’t working still.
  8. Joe from the dealership tells me that Mazda engineers have installed a shock sensor into a 2007 GT model, and they have auto-locking doors working. They have advised/authorized him to replace the alarm module. I schedule to take my car in…
  9. I take my car in, they replace my alarm module, and auto-locking still isn’t working. Mazda decides to send an engineer to look at it later that week. They won’t let me take my car home in the interim. This is the first time I get pissed. My car had been in the shop more times than I could count, but being told they were not going to release it to me finally flipped my anger switch.
  10. Mazda engineer gets there. Does stuff… Decides it is the shock sensor, that it must have been damaged back at number 3. They are going to order a new one, and I can’t have my car back yet… This means I have a crappy rental over the weekend.
  11. They finally declare it to be fixed. Six months after the first attempt to install the sensor. Nine days after I brought it in that last time. All for a $60 part.

At least at the end of the ordeal the shock sensor now works correctly: if you thump the glass it goes off, but if five Harley motorcycles drive down the street it doesn’t even chirp, and the doors auto-lock again. Still, it was one hell of an ordeal to add a shock sensor.

Next up… All the fun and games of my passenger side air-bag system malfunctioning…

-Chris Knight

I use Amazon affiliate links in some of my posts. I think it is fair to say my writing is not influenced by the $0.40 I earned in 2022.