Tag Archives: Saturn

The Price of Vancouver: Car Crime Capital

Vancouver’s car crime status may have slipped recently but it was once car crime capital. More cars were stolen in the area and more cars broken into than most places in North America. Why? Well, being a port city perhaps those cars were shipped to parts unknown. Perhaps pirates came in to strip them of useful parts. Perhaps we have enough gangs of various persuasions who can resell them. I can’t speak to the car thefts per se, and haven’t done research but it was bad enough the police set up bait cars in various areas.

I do know that anyone who lived along routes in and out of the city often had their cars stolen (and one woman I talked to said her car had been stolen five times). That one is easy. Our inadequate public transportation system stops before the bars close. Anyone who comes in from any of the outlying areas: Surrey, Mission, Coquitlam, Whalley, etc., needs to find a way home afterwards. Bus and SkyTrain have stopped, taxis are too expensive, so let’s steal a car.

Break-ins on cars are easy to figure out too. Vancouver has the poorest postal code in Canada, which coincides with the Downtown East Side and the worst drug problems. Drugs=addicts=car break-ins. Pretty simple.

I once had a Honda Civic, the most stolen car in BC at the time, partly because it was the car to hot-rod for the young guys. My car was never stolen but it was broken into 15 times. In truth that included the stolen sunroof from the Nissan Sentra.

Here’s a list of some of the things stolen from that car:

  • half a tire jack
  • gear shift knob
  • prescription sunglasses
  • ashtray with coins
  • teeny tiny first aid kit
  • cassette tapes
  • car insurance
  • license plate
  • sunroof
  • stopwatch

If you add that up you’ll see it doesn’t equal 15, and many of those were stolen at the same time. My window was broken once and each of two door locks gouged out at different times. The door was left open after several of the break-ins (Civics were notoriously easy to get into) and I had to replace the car battery.

I lived in different areas and break-in had happened downtown, on the west side, central and East Vancouver, where I live now. But most of the vandalism happened because of my neighbour. Though we could never prove it, he broke in to numerous cars and houses. He foreclosed on his mortgage because it went up his nose or into his arm and the people who bought the house had ample evidence of drug use in the syringes and spoons left all over.

The crime rate went down when the neighbour disappeared. I also resorted to putting huge signs in my car window that said: STOP! This is East Van. You are thief # 14 15. There are no keys, money, drugs, CDs, jewels, condoms or children in this car. I don’t leave anything in the car these days but my window was broken two weeks back after about four years of no vandalism (except my place). I had one CD in the car, visible. That was a mistake and cost me $200 deductible to get the glass and moulding replaced. There are still enough drug addicts in the city and they’ll take anything any way they can to fuel their habits. And the federal government wants to close the one safe injection site.

The government really needs to weigh the cost to home and car owners in what they lose and have to replace from thefts, plus the cost of policing and investigating against the cost of a safe-injection site. I have a very strong feeling that the cost of one site is a lot less. And what does that site do? It takes the people off the street, keeps them from dying, gives them a chance to get their lives in control and maybe get off drugs, and it saves us a lot of crime. If an addict can hold down a regular job and not have to resort to crime and prostitution then they have a better chance of becoming a viable part of society and not a money sink. Until then, Vancouver will continue to have high break-in and vandalism rates and the poorest postal code.

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Why I Won’t Buy Saturn Again

I have a 2003 Saturn Ion 3. When I bought it in 2004 it was a demo model with about 4,000 km on it. That the salesperson changed three times before I bought it should have been an indicator to me where Saturn was headed, and it seems to be…out of the world.

The dealership then closed. I had a VIP membership for lifetime free oil changes but had to go to the Morrey dealerships for that; Morrey Nissan in Burnaby. But the car was on warranty and I had to go to a Saturn dealership for any warranty work, in Richmond. I live in Vancouver and work in New Westminster.

Under warranty, I took the car in four times because the back passenger door didn’t seal correctly and was most noticeable at high speeds. Four times and they never did fix it correctly. Now, if I open the door I have to push the loose molding back into place before shutting the door to minimize the air blowing through.

Under warranty, I took the car in at least four times because it would idle high when the weather was cold. It would not start this way but after I’d driven it even a few minutes it would idle high when stopped at lights. If I shut off the car, it would reset. It only happened when cold, which told me that there was something wrong with the idle or throttle and cold weather caused it to freeze or stick. I took a small automotive course in high school and have enough of a logical mind that I can figure out basic mechanical. Somehow though, mechanics can’t seem to use a brain to figure out car problems now unless they plug it into a computer.

So I drove the car in one day and didn’t shut it off and lo and behold they could find the problem. It was fixed but then the weather turned warm and I couldn’t test it until the fall when it was cold again. And guess what, problem not fixed. Oh and the car, no longer under warranty and the part isn’t working right and I was told the part has no warranty. So why would I bother to fix the part again, knowing that if it blows it’s still not under any warranty and that I can keep paying and paying for the same part? That’s what the service people told me.

Now my car was at about 70,000 km when the fan in the car stopped working. I could get heat but no fan to blow it around. But of course it wasn’t the fan itself that wasn’t working. It was the computer component and would cost over $600 to fix. On top of that, I made an appointment and had to wait over four hours for them to check the car. Then they charged me $60 for telling me it would cost $600. The car’s warranty ended at 60,000 km.

I contacted Saturn/GM Canada and their generous offer was to go 50/50 on the fan part. That’s it. Nothing on the other things they never managed to fix. And basically they’re saying, well we won’t make money on this part but we won’t go out of the way to satisfy you.

Although the service guys were nice and friendly at Lansdowne Saturn in Richmond, the service wasn’t that great and one day, while waiting in Richmond to get picked up and taken back to my car, it took them over an hour. I was no more than ten minutes away. One service guy condescended to me in explaining that the car might just be idling high because it was cold. As if I’m not aware of the difference between a cold idle and a stuck throttle.

So, this is why I won’t buy Saturn again. Poor service, poor repair record, a very short warranty and no customer satisfaction from Saturn Canada.

Of the car itself, its mileage was okay, it has a huge blind spot for turning corners, the visors only work if you’re six feet tall. I loved the adjustable heat vents that could blow right on my hands. The door locks are stupidly designed and the pockets on the side doors are smaller than any map, should you want to store them there. But a car under warranty comes part and parcel with the dealership and I wasn’t convinced that with Saturn’s lagging sales that I’ll ever buy another Saturn again.

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