3 years ago I decided that my then 10 year old trustworthy Opel Corsa had on the one hand served me well, on the other it was old and did no longer fulfill my needs.  It was about time I made the next step into a bigger and faster car. As the Corsa proved to be what we greeks call “a dog”, I blindly went again for an Opel. This time it was a beautiful gray Astra GTC, 1600cc with 115PS, Easytronic transmission (both auto and manual depending on the mood), Sports chassis and a panoramic rooftop.

I went over at Dynamotors and ordered it, gave 3/4ths of the car’s value as advance payment and that’s when the adventure begins. Read on reader.. it’s an exciting story.. I promise!!!

It starts with a big 5 month wait period. The panoramic rooftop took its sweet time. However during those months I had to pay monthly installments for the car I still didn’t have. The car finally came on September along with 2 years warranty from the factory plus 4 more years of warranty extension by the dealer (which covers less stuff than the factory one, but it’s till there) and 1 year of free road assistance.. the so called “Opel Assistance”.

The first major gripe came 8 months after I received my car, where at some point I needed road assistance. I called the Opel Assistance number and I was informed that my assistance plan had expired! I was flabbergasted  to that fact, and later on found out that the Assistance plan went active from the moment I ordered the car.. not from the moment I received it.

The second major gripe (and quite the gripe it was) came after my car (which I had gracefully named Panoramix due to the rooftop) turned one year old. I had been very careful with Panoramix, keeping it within optimal operational parameters, and traveled about 10.000 km with it. One night while returning from work, I was driving at about 40kph when the engine…. exploded!!!

Apparently it was due to material fault. Dynamotors changed the whole engine block (under warranty), and I tried to get in contact with Opel in Germany, who gracefully forwarded my e-mail to General Motors Greece. I visited the possibility of a replacement car as I expressed my concerns and doubts that no matter the expertise of the crew of Dynamotors, they can’t possibly assemble the engine the same way it is assemebled in the Opel factory. Of course, my claim was dismissed.

It took about a month for Dynamotors to import a new engine and mount it on Panoramix, and about 15 days till they could find and give me  a temp replacement car for as long Panoramix would be at the “doctor’s”.

I’d really love to say that my lack of faith in the abilities of the local crew to mount the new engine on my car flawlessly were unwarranted.. alas.. the moment I got my car back it had hiccups. Engine hiccups when it was staying still, and engine hiccups when it was on the move with low RPM. Of course, as this was not the typical performance of the car, I took it back the next to Dynamotors to fix it.

Their assessment was that I had probably used non-pure gasoline, or bad quality gasoline and I’d better switch to higher octane gasoline plus use a tank cleaner and some gasoline enhancer. I did all three, but nothing really changed, so I took my car back to Dynamotors again.

Their second assessment was that since the engine was brand new and it was not “pre-run”  as it happens nowadays with car engines, I would have to work the engine for about 15.000 km prior to assessing if there’s something wrong with it.

15.000 km and a year and a half later, I’m back at Dynamotors bringing the car in for its scheduled service, oh.. and of course telling them that the engine hiccup problem is still there and it still needs to be fixed. They service the car (oils, filters and traditional mambo jumbo) and their third assessment about the hiccups is that a new program on the car’s “brain” (ECU – Engine Control Unit) was needed.

I went for summer vacations only to realize that not only the problem was not fixed, but it started having hiccups on higher RPM as well. I started asking on forums and car enthusiasts about what might be wrong with it and why would it do such a thing. 50 people replied to me with 50 varied opinions.

So late this January, I take the car back to replace a broken oil carter (had a little pavement incident) and of course once again tell them to fix the damn hiccups thing. They fixed the carter and their fourth assessment for the hiccups was that upgrading the firmware on my gearbox (remember it’s an automatic one) would solve the problem.

As soon as I got the car, not only the hiccups didn’t stop, but it got a lot worse. It had trouble establish enough power on the first gear to speed the car up, and unless I had very high RPM, the car would start shake like a transvestite that tries on high-heels for the first time in his life. The next day the led that warns of a problem somewhere around the exhaust area lit. The day after it went off. The third day it went on again, and the fourth day it started flashing whenever I got higher speeds warning me that I should cut down with the speed (mind you it went flashing after around 50 km/h)  least I’d risk damaging the catalytic converter. So I took it again to Dynamotors last Monday.

They kept it for a week without giving me a temp replacement car, only to call me on Friday and tell me that they’re still trying to find what’s wrong with the car. I went car-less during the weekend and Ash Monday when finally they called me on Tuesday to inform me of their fifth assessment… the culprit was the Lambda (oxygen) sensor being stuck at much higher voltage operations than what it should. They replaced it, charged me 225€ for it because.. it was not part of the things the extended dealer warranty covers, and they also tell me that there is also a minor trembling which is possibly caused by the disc on the gearbox, which if replaced would cost more than 1000€ and is also not covered by the warranty.

I took the car and pedaled it a bit. Initially it looked as if it was working alright, but after a couple of km it started having the same hiccups it had for the past two and a half years.  I had taken a break from work to go and get the car so I didn’t have time to bring it back on the double, so I decided to bring it in the next day and check it again for that “minor” as they called it hiccup. However, when I returned from work back home at night, Panoramix started having the very same serious shaking at higher RPM.. the exact same behavior that resulted the warning led to flash the last time. Needless to say I got furious. The next day (Wednesday) while I was taking the car back to Dynamotors.. guess what… rrrrrrrrrrright.. the same led lit up again.

Right now… my car’s in for the 6th time for the very same fucking problem, I paid money for something that never got repaierd, I don’t have a temp replacement car and I’m looking for a lawyer…