Changing Gears

(I apologize for the hiatus. A combination of weak wifi and a corrupted update left me without a computer for a few weeks. Recently I was able to repair the problem and am now able to post again.)

AlligatorI bought my 2017 RAM Promaster van in November of the same year from a dealer that sold many car and van fleets from rental companies. After looking over a number of pre-dented and pre-scratched vans I found this one. My number one priority was that I would be able to stand up straight in it (with room for insulation and covering). I also wanted to it to be as inconspicuous as possible. This van was from a rental company but was in fine shape and only had 500 miles on the odometer. Like new! The Carfax report came out clean. I was assured all was covered under the warrantee. What a bargain! I knew I should have my own service place take a look at it, but I had left that company and had not found another. I trusted all would be well.

CrowsAt my condo I had an assigned parking place and after some time I noticed some drops staining the tarmac. I assured myself, “it can’t be my van, it only had 500 miles on it.” After some time it became obvious that indeed there was some kind of leak. Assured of the warrantee, I made an appointment with the dealer to get it fixed. Even with an appointment I had to wait four hours. I was then told the transmission pan did not belong to the vehicle and I had to pay to have it repaired. By this time I was worn down. It didn’t make any sense, why would anyone switch out a part when the van was nearly brand new? I worried the van was a Frankenstein’s monster – used for all kind of spare parts, but was assured this was the only part that didn’t belong. Of course I assumed I was being lied to, but I was running out of time, so I had it fixed.


My condo sold and closing day was fast approaching. I started parking in the spot next to my assigned spot. I noticed another spot and got under and checked everything out. It seemed there was another very slow leak. I decided to deal with it after I got on the road. While near St. Augustine, I contacted the dealer up there. They didn’t service Promasters. I’d have to go to Jacksonville. That was too far. I took out my paperwork and saw the notation that it wasn’t just the transmission pan, but the entire transmission that didn’t belong to the van! Yikes! I called a service station nearby and asked them to look at it. He said my story made no sense and it should be under warrantee, but I pleaded with him to just take a look and see if I was being lied to and if he could fix it. He and another guy spent a lot of time checking. The VIN number has a warning attached to it. We were all puzzled, so he took a look under and said it seemed true – my transmission didn’t match. The good news is the leak is so very slow I had time to get it fixed later.

One great thing about campgrounds is people are friendly and you meet people with all kinds of expertise. One woman, a rural postal delivery person and gear-head, gave me good advice to having it looked at by a reliable transmission person and get professional advice. Later my cousin knew a trustworthy repair shop and I took it there. They put a proper seal to the transmission pan and told me the transmission will probably outlast the rest of the van. Whew!

BikeI kept making friends at campgrounds and met a man who was into stock car racing. He had done a lot of mechanical work with cars all his life. We got into a discussion about transmissions and we came up with this story:

Someone gets a Promaster van and for some reason totally screws up the transmission. This person messed up the transmission in some stupid way that nullifies the warrantee. So they go to Enterprise and rent a new Promaster van. They (or some nefarious mechanic) switch the transmissions. They return it to Enterprise. The person at the desk looks, sees no dents or scratches and everyone is all set. They rent it out a few more times, but it starts to come back because the transmission is messed up. It sits in the lot until they sell the fleet at the end of the year. At this point they can’t sell the van with a bad transmission so someone – perhaps the dealer I purchased the van from – puts in another transmission, but doesn’t report it to Carfax. 

Innocent me. It would never occur to me to use a rental car to get parts, but transmissions are expensive. Did my dealer know and not tell me? I can’t prove anything. I’m just lucky to have a working van with a working transmission. Lesson learned – buyer beware!

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