Friday, May 23, 2008

Dear Nissan,

I still fucking hate you.




If it's not one thing, it's 1,350 others.

Ye ole Frontier failed inspection again this year (I don't think I've passed one since 2002, if anybody is keeping score). This time, it's a well-known Nissan Frontier/Xterra problem. A cracked passenger-side manifold. Apparently, this happens to nearly everybody who owns one of these trucks. The lucky ones have it happen within their vehicle's warranty period. The rest of us are shit outta luck, to the tune of "...anywhere between about $800 and $1,000...oh, and you need a new exhaust system too...that'll run you another $350".

I knew Nissan had issued a technical service bulletin out about this exact problem a number of years ago. Only problem with that is that it doesn't entitle owners to shit. It's simply a way for Nissan to tell their own technicians "Yeah, we made a shitty product. You're gonna have to support it. Here's what you gotta do". Big fucking help to the consumer. Thanks for that.

So I figured I'd write to Nissan North America's Consumer Affairs division and see if they had anything good they could tell me...


My 2000 Nissan Frontier recently failed our state safety inspection due to a cracked passenger-side manifold. I read online that there may have been a recall issued for this problem, or a class-action lawsuit settlement of some kind. Can you give me any details on either of these please? The repair is quite expensive, and apparently quite widespread in the Xterra/Frontier community.

Thank you.

-Gary R.

To which they replied in a most unhelpful way:

File # 6xxxxx3
VIN # 1xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx7

Dear Mr. R Gary:

A review of our records indicates that the vehicle with the vehicle serial number listed above is involved in the recall as follows:


Please contact your Nissan dealership for an appointment to have the recall repairs performed on your vehicle. These repairs are free of charge to you.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be of service.


Nissan North America, Inc.

Arnel Gomez
Consumer Affairs Representative
National Consumer Affairs

Getting such a canned response pissed me off, so I wrote back saying...

Thanks for that nearly useless bit of information. Any chance you can tell me how to file a class-action lawsuit? Thanks!


I'll post back if they reply. Until then, allow me to say "Never again, Nissan. Never fucking again". If this truck weren't (just barely) paid off, I'd be on the way to CarMax instead of writing this post.

Where's my beer...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

She may not look like much now...

...but that's cuz she's broken.

Just wait till she's fixed.

There's a new ride in the stable (well, one and a half, actually). A "free stuff" post on Craigslist caught my eye a couple of weeks back. It said basically:

"Freak-sized road bike and frame. Old. Only good for rider 6'4"+. Both need work to be ridable. Did I mention they're free?"

The poster added some half-hearted disclaimer, doing a CYA in case the frame(s) disintegrated under the new owner. (Ahh, America. Land of lawsuits.)

So I made the trek into Arlington last week and picked up the new toys. The guy wasn't kidding when he said "freak sized". The first is a Sekai 2500, hailing from MN circa 1981 ("Lock your bike!").

If my rudimentary frame measuring skills are accurate, this beast is a 67cm frame (c-to-t). Bigger than even I, at 6'6" really need. It was the more complete of the two offered. All bits seemed in pretty good working order. The steel frame has some rust spots on it that I'm a little concerned about, but the horizontal drops make it my ideal fixed-gear candidate. I spent last evening giving her about a 5lb crap-ectomy. I removed pannier rack, F and R derailleurs, rear brake (may go back on), cables, cool little screw-on cable holders, reflectors, and little plastic lock holder. She looks much sleeker now. I need to shorten (or replace) her chain and she should at least be ridable as a totally dangerous one-brake-having freewheel singlespeed deathtrap.

Bonus included bits were an old set of Look road pedals (which will end up right back on Craigslist!), and, coincidentally enough, nearly the exact saddle I use on my primary bike: a Terry something-or-other, with a bigass junk-saver cutout. So my ass should be quite comfy on the new bike right outta the gate.

She came with a set of 27" wheels which may be salvageable (the wheels in the photos are from my other, ancient road bike). The rear has a busted spoke and is way outta true, but the guy said they were never abused, so I'm hoping that a spoke replacement and re-truing/re-dishing will bring it back to life. The front wheel seems a bit better off, but under my fat ass, will definitely need to be looked over by somebody more familiar with wheel physics than I am (hey Spearman, you paying attention? I'll bring the beer!).

The rest of the hastily snapped photos of her are here.

The other frame that this kind gentleman had hanging in his shed was an early 1990s era aluminum Cannondale road frame. Other than the destroyed steel fork, it seems to be in pretty good shape. It's smaller than the 67cm behemoth Sekai, so it may actually be my size. At the moment, it's hanging on the rack on the back of my truck (the wife mentioned something about '...something something another bike into this house something something divorce court something something out on your ass something...' so I figured it was safer out there. At least for now.

I can't own it...

However, I must at least blog about it:

**Update**, seems it's a real plate. Trying to configure it on the VA DMV site leads to this:

"Personalized message already taken. You can only purchase it if you already reserved this message or it is on a vehicle you own."

Bravo to you, clever license plate customizer. My hat is off to you.