03/10/08: Reply to McDade

 

Mr. McDade,

 

I’d first off like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to document the events that have transpired with our recently purchased 2008 Honda Odyssey (VIN: 5FNRL38478B039818). It means a great deal to me that someone from Ourisman Honda’s management has come forth to apologize and acknowledge all the trouble and inconveniences my family has suffered as a result of these issues.

 

I have one major point of contention with the letter’s content however. The Odyssey was returned to Ourisman Honda on 3/3/08 for further servicing of the transmission fluid leak, NOT to have the remote starter removed. The remote start system issues were a secondary source of frustration; the primary problem was of course the continued leaking of transmission fluid. It was not until an additional 24 hours had passed that Ourisman Honda even contacted me to ask what I wanted done with the remote starter, and it was not until 3/5/08 that any decision to keep or to remove the remote starter was made. I am quite certain that Ourisman Honda recognizes the significance in acknowledging this difference.

 

Since the chronology of events that you described seems a bit vague, I have reviewed my own extensive notes and briefly summarized the correct chain of events for you below.

 

 

February 27, 2008 : Vehicle purchased from Ourisman Honda. The sales transaction was completed approximately 10PM , and my husband and I took delivery of the vehicle.

 

February 29, 2008 : Vehicle was towed back to Ourisman Honda at approximately 5:30 PM because of the significant fluid leakage observed over two days, and a missing ATF cap. There was red, oily, foul-smelling fluid pooling in my driveway, and over all of the equipment located under the hood of the Odyssey. I advised Mr. Gino Pellegrino that I believed transmission fluid was leaking and that I had also noticed what appeared to be a missing cap on the transmission.

 

March 3, 2008 : The vehicle was briefly returned to my residence at 3:20 PM , and over the course of an hour, additional transmission fluid leakage was observed. It was noted (and photographed) that the previously missing ATF cap was replaced with a used gold colored ATF cap. Of secondary concern at this time was a dealer installed remote starter system which was clearly not working according to manufacturers’ intent. As a result of the continued transmission fluid leaking, at approximately 5:30 PM I had the Ourisman driver return the van to your service department for a second attempt at repair of the transmission fluid issue. The reported remote starter issues were also to be further evaluated at this visit.

 

March 4, 2008 : I received a call from Mr. Christopher LaPorte of Ourisman Honda’s sales department – nearly 24 hours after the vehicles return to Ourisman Honda for the transmission service. At 5:15 PM Mr. LaPorte explained that the installed remote starter could not be configured in a 2008 Odyssey to offer the missing features and he offered to either have the system removed or to leave it as-is, at no cost to me. I told him that I would discuss it with my husband and let Ourisman Honda know our decision. Mr. LaPorte informed me that the vehicle had been parked and no further ATF leakage was observed.

 

March 5, 2008 : After consultation with both my husband and another area Honda dealer’s service department, I spoke with Mr. Gino Pellegrino at approximately 10:30 AM and told him that my husband and I decided that we’d like the remote starter removed from the vehicle and the vans electrical system returned to factory condition. Mr. Pellegrino agreed, and stated the transmission issue was resolved and that the vehicle was no longer leaking any fluid. My husband picked up the van from Ourisman Honda that evening. At the point that the van was returned to us, the used gold colored ATF cap had again been replaced, this time with a different, newer, silver colored ATF cap stamped with “ATF”. The substitution of the first replacement ATF cap with a different ATF cap clearly indicates further actions were taken during the second visit for transmission work then have been disclosed to date.

 

I also have a few further questions and concerns I am hoping you will be able to lend insight on.

 

Regarding the primary transmission issue, I have several additional concerns I’d like addressed.

 

(1)   Loose Clamp and Loose Hose
Up until receipt of your letter, it had been claimed by Ourisman Honda on multiple occasions that the cause of the leak was a loose clamp on one of the transmission lines, and that the pressure of driving the vehicle with the loose clamp must have then pushed the hose off its fitting, causing the transmission fluid to leak. I do not see any mention of the loose clamp or the loose hose in your letter, however. Was this an oversight on your part, or was I told incorrect information regarding the leakage’s cause in my many preceding discussions with Ourisman Honda personnel?

 

(2)   Missing ATF Filler Cap
Since my first contact with Ourisman Honda regarding the Odyssey’s significant transmission fluid leak ( 2/29/08 ), I had explained there was a conspicuous absence of a cap in a threaded hole approximately one inch in diameter atop of the transmission. I was repeatedly assured that no such cap was missing. I’d like an explanation of why the missing ATF cap was never acknowledged to us prior to my disclosure that I had photographic evidence of the missing ATF cap. My disclosure was made just hours prior to receipt of your letter.

 

(3)   ATF Cap Fell Upwards?
I’m a bit confused as to your letter’s explanation of a loose trans fluid filler cap bolt having fallen off and later being found on the cowl area near the windshield, which if I am not mistaken, is located *above* the transmission. Forgive me if I am missing something here, but if the cap had been loose and subsequently fallen off, wouldn’t the laws of gravity dictate that the cap would fall down?

 

(4)   Second leak claimed to be residue only
Ourisman Honda was in possession of the vehicle for four days (2/29/08 – 3/3/08) for the original ATF leak, during which time your letter purports that the  Ourisman technician reinstalled a bolt, drained and refilled the transmission fluid, cleaned the area and test drove the vehicle. I’m more then a bit confused as to how enough residual ATF fluid could remain to again cause a clearly visible and rapid accumulation of ATF fluid in my driveway, especially given that Ourisman Honda had the vehicle for such an extended period of time, and that the vehicle was also driven several miles to my residence prior to this observation. I obviously will not claim any expert knowledge in this field, but it would stand to reason that a small amount of residual fluid would have burned off on the drive over and would not be once again visibly dripping more red foul-smelling ATF fluid upon arrival. Obviously there were additional undisclosed actions taken by Ourisman Honda after the vehicles brief return on 3/3/08 , as clearly evidenced by a second replacement of the originally missing ATF cap.

 

(5)   Multiple Replacement ATF Filler Caps
As you are aware, after Ourismans Honda’s original attempt at repairing the transmission fluid leak, the car was briefly returned to me on Monday, March 3, 2008 . The Ourisman driver who was sent to return the van was kind enough to wait while I attempted to make sense of the remote starter issues. During that time, your driver and I noticed that transmission fluid was again accumulating rapidly in my driveway (puddle spread to approximately 6 inches in diameter within an hour). A check under the hood quickly confirmed that a gold colored ATF cap had indeed been placed in the transmission – though judging by its grungy appearance, I easily gathered it was a handy replacement and not the original ATF cap, as it certainly did not look to be factory new.

After the van had again been returned to our possession (3/5/08), I again checked under the hood and observed that a different, newer, silver colored ATF cap (bearing a stamp reading “ATF”) had replaced the previously mentioned gold colored ATF cap. You have already stated that Ourisman’s service department left residue from the first leak serviced on 2/29/08 , which contributed to the second service call on 3/3/08 , but was the replacement gold colored ATF cap an additional cause of our second experience with transmission fluid leaking (3/3/08)?

In regards to the secondary remote starter issue, I have no desire to beat a dead horse, but I feel it necessary to mention to you, as a Service Manager, that I’m dismayed that Ourisman Honda would install an aftermarket product so blatantly incompatible with your vehicles. Upon even a cursory review of the owner’s manual, it was obviously not the intention of the manufacturer that any installation of their product should (a) cause the vehicle a loss of critical features (keyless entry), nor (b) that the system be able to be turned on remotely, but not off.

 

For what it is worth, amid all the confusion and conflicting information we experienced re the remote start system, I contacted another local Honda dealership in my attempts to understand this situation. The service manager at the other dealership spent time with me, explaining that since the 2008 Odyssey did not even support the Honda brand remote starter system, they certainly (a) would *not* have installed any aftermarket remote start product in my 2008 Odyssey, and (b) also would have specifically advised against it due to a large number of issues they have seen transpire with Honda electrical systems as a result of such after market remote starter systems. This dealership’s service department advised me to have the remote starter system removed from our vehicle.

 

It is my sincere hope that the management staff at Ourisman Honda will make a more fitting effort to rectify this most unusual and unfortunate situation. While I appreciate Ourisman’s promise to provide the first two manufacturers recommended services on the Odyssey, I’m certain you can appreciate that this gesture does not begin to compensate for the economic impact Ourisman Honda has caused our family due to time lost from work and the cost of insuring the vehicle for the six days it was at Ourisman Honda. There also have been countless less tangible costs to us, such as the immense amounts of time and energy this situation has required, and the stress and anxiety endured. The conditional warranty extension of the transmission and/or electrical system is also certainly appreciated, but not very relevant given that (a) we’ve already purchased an extended warranty, and (b) your extension has maintenance restrictions attached.

 

It is of paramount importance to us to insure that this vehicle is indeed safe for our family’s transportation, and free of any and all further mechanical defects. I’m sure you can understand our concerns, especially given the lack of forthright disclosures to date.

 

I look forward to your response, and again I’d like to thank you very much for your time and effort helping us to resolve and understand these issues. It is greatly appreciated.

 

To: gmcdade@ourismanhonda.net; richkandel@ourismanhonda.net
Cc: consumer@oag.state.md.us; Sunny Hedgecock <sunnyharrington@yahoo.com>; John Hedgecock <john.hedgecock@dc.gov>; CLaporte@ourismanhonda.dealerspace.com; gino@ourismanhonda.net

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