This was my mom's 1986 Pontiac 6000 LE. At the time, it had been a decent car. However, by the summer of 1998 when this picture was taken, it was time for a newer car.
We traded in my mom's Pontiac 6000 for my first actual car that I owned: a 1997 Pontiac Grand AM SE. A couple months after I bought it, the problems began. The oil pump, which had been recalled, began malfunctioning, causing the car to stall repeatedly. It took three trips to the dealership over a two-week period before they finally realized what was wrong and got it fixed.
In December 2001, I was heading northbound on I-270 on the northeast side of Columbus, Ohio approaching the State Route 161 cloverleaf interchange. I was in the right lane and starting to merge into the center lane when the car ahead of me slammed on its brakes. I did a panic stomp on my brakes and swerved instead of merged. However, as I found out, the Grand Am didn't have antilock brakes on the rear, and the back end got loose on the wet pavement. I went into a violent fishtail, and while skidding sideways, the front end was clipped by a cellphone driver in a BMW hard enough that the back left bumper spun around hard enough to hit his front right passenger door and go down the right side of his car.
In June 2004, after being plagued by all kinds of mechanical problems with the Grand Am, it was traded in on a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. The Jeep has been quite beneficial in terms of cargo room when needed as well as having 4-wheel drive, which comes in handy with Ohio's winters.
In August 2004, I went on vacation over around Altoona, Pennsylvania. On an overlook in Tunnelhill, the Jeep looked almost like it was posing for a Jeep ad.
In March 2008, I had just stopped at a red light on my way to work when a cellphone driver in a Honda Civic waited until the last second to hit his brakes and slid on the wet pavement, going under the back of my Jeep. I was fortunate as his hood hit the skid plate protecting the gas tank on my Jeep. Unfortunately, the Columbus police were only responding to injury accidents at the time so the guy wasn't cited.
About three weeks later, just as I'd made an appointment to get my Jeep looked at to get repaired, some neighborhood kids playing on the hill across the drive from my place decided to throw rocks in the direction of vehicles, taking out the back window of my Jeep.
It wasn't pretty, but for a few days, the back window opening was covered with cardboard, garbage bags, and duct tape.
In March 2012, I took my Jeep to Performance Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Columbus for a coolant leak. I ended up getting the radiator replaced, and all seemed fine until I got home, got out, and shut the door, hearing a sound like somebody kicking a chainlink fence. I called Performance, but it was too late to take it back since they were about to close. I went back out to search for the source of the noise and saw that a bolt was missing on the one side of the condenser for the air conditioning on the front of the radiator.
While taking pictures of the missing bolt, I noticed that the right front headlight was loose. Raising the hood, I noticed that the tab for the housing that the headlight fits into was broken off the right-side headlight. So, they'd sent my vehicle back on the road with missing and broken parts. The next morning, I told them to fix the issues I'd found and anything else wrong and that the mechanic who had worked on it the day before was not to touch it. They found that the cooler for the transmission fluid under the radiator had also been damaged and was leaking fluid. They said the mechanic was one of their best and were baffled at what happened.
This is the loaner car that I was given while the mistakes on my Jeep were "corrected". It's a 2011 Chrysler 200. While a nice car, after driving an SUV for nearly eight years, it's way too low.
Upon picking up my Jeep, I was told that the mechanic had just gotten "sloppy" and that he was one of their best mechanics. A new headlight was ordered for the broken tab, but everything else was fixed. However, I kept hearing a rattling sound from up front after getting home. I noticed that the condenser was again improperly installed on the radiator. The new headlight came in, but it didn't have the housing bracket, which was ordered. The condensor was corrected. The rattle, I was told, was coming from a heat shield under the driver's seat. Once the headlight brackets were replaced on both sides, I took the Jeep to Crown Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Dublin to have it inspected, giving them a full history of what had happened with Performance. Within five minutes of my getting there, they found the source of the rattle. The front skid plate was loose. One bolt was improperly installed. Another was completely missing.
Upon further inspection, the new radiator had been improperly installed, the rear main seal on the engine had a slow leak that was quite noticable when the folks at Crown had me under the Jeep, and the right front axle was leaking oil. While the two leaks weren't the fault of the idiots at Performance, it should have been brought to my attention. Needless to say, I'll never take another vehicle back to Performance again.
After my trip down the dirt roads on my trip to Moonville, Ohio in May 2012, the back of the Jeep was a bit dirty.
In 2011, I'd tried a headlight restoration kit on my Jeep, but either the kit was faulty (I followed the instructions exactly) or the headlights were too far gone. So, in August 2012, I got new headlights from Headlights Depot. Here are the old headlights (turned off).
Here are the old headlights turned on. While I could see at night, the headlights were so fogged up that the light wasn't focused and was instead diffused.
Here's the work in progress. I removed the grill to be able to get a better grip on the headlights when taking out the old ones and putting in the new.
Comparison of the old and new headlights. Needless to say, there really is no comparison.
New headlights installed. I'm amazed at how much newer the Jeep looks with the new headlights in.
Here, the new headlights are turned on. They might not look as bright, but that's because the light is now focused forward instead of going all over.
Kevin L. Wagner
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