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  #1  
Old 03-02-2007, 03:08 AM
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Life with a DTX, or, why GM is in trouble!

When my 300E needed some paint work, our insurance arrranged for a rental car through Hertz. They had 2 cars available - a new 50ZX, or a new Cadillac DTX. As I was lunging for the 350Zx, I recalled that I take my 4 year old grandson to preschool every day, and reluctantly selected the cadillac as being more car seat appropriate.

Well, where to start. Maybe with the fact that the boat was too long to go in the garage where I normally park the 300E - so long that i wouldn't be able to close the garage door. We are talking big - center seat belts in for 3 passengers in front!

Visually, it wasn't too ugly, and fit of body panels was relatively straight. The art deco dash was just suficiently subdued to avoid tacky, but the flush buttons were hard to find and push, and many of them were non-intuitive. There were some nice features, like windshield washers mounted on the wiper arms so they always sprayed in front of the wiper blade path on the wash stroke, and stopped on the wipe return stroke. And a very visible ELS instrument panel. Unfortunately, the instruments weren't terribly accurate. The outside temp display would show 42 degrees first thing in the morning. It would stay at 42 farenheit until mid morning, then magically change to 65! The fuel guage would indicate anywhere from less than 1/8th of a tank to over 3/8ths and anything in between each time the engine was started. So any time it got below 1/2 tank, ther accuracy was so suspect that I just filled the tank. And the shift lever! Those must have been the softest detents I have ever felt between gears, requiring great care in making sure you wwere really in the right selection. Except, of course, for the park position, which required major effort to leave. I thought I was going to have to call AAA to help get the car into any gear but park at one point.

But down to the ergonomics. (Did I mention this thing was huge?). The dashboard and the rear headliner had visible bar displays with audible warning tones to let you know when you needed to take a pilot on board - or were too close to something. Too close is relative: When I carefully approached the garage door and watched the bar codes change from 1-4 orange bars, then add 2 red bars, and the start beeping like a incoming missile lock-on alarm, I stopped and walked up to see how close I was to the door - no visual clues like a hood star to let you eyeball the distance - not even a visible drop off to the hood edge. Well, the collision alarm meant that I only had enough room to walk in front of the car between the bumper and door without touching anything - about 2 feet.

And speaking of distances, the front door had no grab handle and swung so far out that I had visions of the octagenarians likely to buy this car falling out into the street trying to get a purchase on the door handle to swing it shut. Plus, the verticle edge of the door was curved to the rear at the bottom, leaving a nice sharp point at shin height while the rest of the door looked sufficiently open to clear any part of the body entering the car (don't ask how I learned this!) And before leaving the topic of designing for your target audience, the probable owner of the DTX is likely to be older and possibly have knee or hip problems - so why did GM put in a foot operated parking brake that is actuated with a chevy truck leaf spring, doesn't work until it is mashed as hard and close to the floor as possible, and requires an additional and more forceful mash to release! Why not an electric pushbutton parking brake, or at least a hand brake? (oops, forgot that essential front center seating position!) They could have skipped the door lock nanny that automatically locked you in as soon as the doors were closed, and only allowed you to escape after you found the correct button. But they made up for that feature - once outside the car, about 30% of the time the door wouldn't lock with the remote, and you had to use the key. Not so bad? The only key hole is on the drivers door handle! But it averaged out - about 30% of the time i would come out in the morning and find that the car had grown boresd during the night and magically unlocked the doors (yes, I am sure they were locked)

My 20 year old MB never looked or felt as good as the day I got it back and was able to leave the tug boat behind.

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2003 Firemist Red/grey leather SL 500
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  #2  
Old 03-02-2007, 05:53 AM
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Cool story. Wonder if you managed to get a "lemon"?
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  #3  
Old 03-02-2007, 07:53 AM
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Are you referring to the DTS?
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  #4  
Old 03-02-2007, 08:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE View Post
When my 300E needed some paint work, our insurance arrranged for a rental car through Hertz. They had 2 cars available - a new 50ZX, or a new Cadillac DTX.
I love California. In NY you get a choice between 2 cheap economy cars.
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  #5  
Old 03-02-2007, 04:23 PM
diametricalbenz's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by al76slc View Post
I love California. In NY you get a choice between 2 cheap economy cars.
I wasn't even aware that Hertz offered 350Z rental cars. You must have a very nice insurance company.
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  #6  
Old 03-02-2007, 05:34 PM
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John:

Good to read your posts.

I don't think that John got a lemon.

I used to own a 1999 Cadillac Seville, Northcrap engine.

After only 48k miles I dumped the beast.

hell John, I can do you one better.

My 1989 300TE with 208k miles feels better than the 1999 Seville ever did!

Glad to see you posting.

Did you ever get that recumbent bike?

Weather is perfect for a long bike ride...
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  #7  
Old 03-02-2007, 06:24 PM
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Hola Ernesto:

Yeah I got the recumbent trike last september. Put 400 miles on it in the first 6 weeks. That thing is a blast to ride - corners like a go-cart, averaging 18-20mph on the bike paths (when there isn't any traffic - don't want to nail anybody!) A bit slower than my road bike was on acceleration, slower going up hill, very much faster going down hills, and I haven't found the hill it can't climb, what with that 13.5 inch low gear in back. I may sacrifice some of that low end to increase the top end a bit, closer to 107", as I am spun out about 24mph on the flats. Interesting, even though I am only 3" off of the ground, drivers act terrified and give me a ton of room. On a 4 lane divided parkway with a wide bike lane, traffic was movijng to the left lane - didn't want to be in the right lane close to me, even though I was way over to the right of the lane - probably 5 feet between me and where cars would be in the right lane. Of course, the lithium Ion 140 lumen flashing LED tail light may have something to do with it as well as the 'what the hell is that thing' factor that seems to draw drivers attention!

But I haven't been able to ride it for the last several months - went back in the body shop and currently spend all my time in PT and Cardiac rehab. Entropy really sucks!
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2003 Firemist Red/grey leather SL 500
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Last edited by JCE; 03-02-2007 at 06:32 PM.
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  #8  
Old 03-02-2007, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE View Post
Hola Ernesto:

Yeah I got the recumbent trike last september. Put 400 miles on it in the first 6 weeks. That thing is a blast to ride - corners like a go-cart, averaging 18-20mph on the bike paths (when there isn't any traffic - don't want to nail anybody!) A bit slower than my road bike was on acceleration, slower going up hill, very much faster going down hills, and I haven't found the hill it can't climb, what with that 13.5 inch low gear in back. I may sacrifice some of that low end to increase the top end a bit, closer to 107", as I am spun out about 24mph on the flats. Interesting, even though I am only 3" off of the ground, drivers act terrified and give me a ton of room. On a 4 lane divided parkway with a wide bike lane, traffic was movijng to the left lane - didn't want to be in the right lane close to me, even though I was way over to the right of the lane - probably 5 feet between me and where cars would be in the right lane. Of course, the lithium Ion 140 lumen flashing LED tail light may have something to do with it as well as the 'what the hell is that thing' factor that seems to draw drivers attention!

But I haven't been able to ride it for the last several months - went back in the body shop and currently spend all my time in PT and Cardiac rehab. Entropy really sucks!
Well, I am glad that you are (or were) enjoying your bike.

I am sure that you will be back on the mend in no time.

Recumbents look like fun, but I am too chicken to ride with my butt that close to the ground!!!

I used to be able to go for a killer ride...ride all the way to Port Hueneme, catch PCH, ride to Duke's in Malibu...meet my wife for lunch at Duke's...ride back home (maybe take a hill or two, like Potrero Road on the back side of the former Camarillo Mental Hospital, now CSCIU) and then go out dancing with my wife ALL night long.

Now if I make it to PCH from home, I have a hell of a time maintainig any sort of decent, regular cadence on the way back...and forget about going dancing...

Entropy sucks, indeed!

Well, at least we are not pushing diasies.
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  #9  
Old 03-02-2007, 08:59 PM
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Having read the anti-Cad rant;

I agree re: the parking brake... and the inaccurate gas gauge sucks... but the rest of the rant made me wonder- so, it's big. Got that. That's what most people buy a DeVille for. A w140 is big, too, and I admit not for everyone, hence your choice of a W124. But to knock the Caddy for being large is to miss the point. Implying that designing to appeal to older folk is a bad thing- what's the point of that. Old people have money, that's why they buy Cadillacs- room (for 6, even), quiet, and easy to read gauges etc., SELL... and yes the current people who are 80 won't be around to buy another- so? The current 70 yr olds aren't buying 350Zs!

I like a 20 yr old MB better than most anything else too, but your points of contention with the Cadillac made little sense, in general, IMHO...
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  #10  
Old 03-02-2007, 10:53 PM
t walgamuth's Avatar
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an acquaintance has a failry new caddy with the northstar motor. he has had three caddies with this motor and all have been excessive oil users before 50K miles.

so his solution each time was to buy a new caddy.

he lost me somewhere.

i used to have 51 thru 53 caddys. in those days they were really well made. they even had some safety features i never saw on any other cars. IE they had little tabs on the wheel cylinders so that if the brake shoes got so worn that the plunger in the wheel cylinder was getting to the point it would pop out they would stop it and that brake shoe just lost its effectiveness.

those early fifties through late sixties caddy motors would go well over 300k miles without a rebuild if given good care. they were really well engineered cars.

then they got longer, lower and less comfortable. and gradually the quality was squeezed out and replaced by gee gaws and "quality" symbols such as landeau brackets on the sides of the roof and self dimming headlights.

they once were known as "the standard of the world". even mercedes copied the turbo hydromatic tranny when they built their first one.

they were fast too. briggs cunningham took two caddies to lemans in 1950. one was stock except for two carburators. the other had an aerodynamic body built by grumman and five carburators. both were three on the tree sticks. the coupe finished tenth at an average speed of over 80 mph. the aerodynamic car finished eleventh after stripping all the gears except high when stuffed into a sand trap early in the race. if they had had synchromesh in first or a four speed with alll synchro they would have done a lot better since in those days the drum brakes could not be relied on for long. lemans had long straights and sharpish turns so if you didnt have good brakes you had to to a lot of coasting to slow down. in 1950 they beat a lot of very sofisticated sports racing cars such as ferraris because they simply finished.

tom w
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Last edited by t walgamuth; 03-02-2007 at 10:59 PM.
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  #11  
Old 03-02-2007, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobTheMod View Post
Having read the anti-Cad rant;

... but your points of contention with the Cadillac made little sense, in general, IMHO...
I know John and I don't think he is the "rant" type.

The W140 was a huge car in its time. But it never felt big or out of proportion. And it was fairly agile and easy to maneuver for its size.

But the DTS is a land barge and it always feels heavy and like it is about to go float off.

My experience with Caddies (my Dad is a big fan of Caddies) seems to confirm John's observations.
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1989 300TE "Alice"
1990 300CE "Sam Spade"
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  #12  
Old 03-02-2007, 11:45 PM
John Holmes III
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I heard all of the horror stories before I bought my '97 Eldorado with the Northstar in 2004. The key here is lack of oil and coolant changes in regards to Northstar engine problems.

After three years of ownership, I couldn't be happier with the Eldo. It uses a quart of 10W-30 every 2k, and runs like new. The first thing I did when I bought the car was to change all the filters and fluids. The only problems so far have been appropriate for a eleven year old car: brake pads, water pump, engine mount, battery and sparkplugs. Not bad for three years of daily driving.

I find the build quality to be excellent, and all the gadgets still work. When I take the car in for oil changes, the dealer lets me borrow a late model Cadillac for the day. I have noticed that these rental cars feel pretty beat, even though they are only a few months old. Even the DTS they loaned me with less than a thousand miles on it felt like a five year old car. People really beat on loaner cars, and even a Mercedes loaner would feel pretty bad after a few weeks.
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  #13  
Old 03-03-2007, 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by John Holmes III View Post
I heard all of the horror stories before I bought my '97 Eldorado with the Northstar in 2004. The key here is lack of oil and coolant changes in regards to Northstar engine problems.

After three years of ownership, I couldn't be happier with the Eldo. It uses a quart of 10W-30 every 2k, and runs like new. The first thing I did when I bought the car was to change all the filters and fluids. The only problems so far have been appropriate for a eleven year old car: brake pads, water pump, engine mount, battery and sparkplugs. Not bad for three years of daily driving.

I find the build quality to be excellent, and all the gadgets still work. When I take the car in for oil changes, the dealer lets me borrow a late model Cadillac for the day. I have noticed that these rental cars feel pretty beat, even though they are only a few months old. Even the DTS they loaned me with less than a thousand miles on it felt like a five year old car. People really beat on loaner cars, and even a Mercedes loaner would feel pretty bad after a few weeks.

John, you have been lucky.

My former 1999 (I think that in an earlier post I wrote 1998, but I checked the paperwork and it was a 1999 model) Northstar Seville was purchased new by my Dad. Because of my mom's illness the car became very inconvenient for her to get in and out. So I bought it from my dad.

Since new the car had been consuming about a quart of oil per 1000 miles. Numerous "exchanges" with the dealer got us no result. At one point we were even told that the oil consumption was normal and,now get this, that the high oil consumption was a design feature that allowed a fresh supply of oil to be runnign through the engine at all times. HA!!!

There are owners of 150k plus miles W124 in this forum who get all bent out of shape if their cars consume 1 quart of oil every 2k to 2.5k miles.

In a 6 month period of time, before the car reached 48k miles, a number of things began to go wrong with the car, including several tranny "issues." The car was at that point still under warranty, so it cost me nothing, but GM spent nearly $9k in that 6 month period of time. I finally said enough is enough and so I traded it in for my current 1998 E320.

So far the only "unusual" expense for the E320 has been repairing a bulky sunroof. the dealer paid for half, even though the car has been out of warranty for a long time.

I must admit that the Seville was a good looking car. It was black on black, with big, shiny chrome wheels. I felt like a Mafioso, or a pimp, driving it.

I must also admit that out ont he open road the car was fun. Big, fast, quiet and comfortable.

Just not very reliable and really expensive to maintain.

Maybe I got a lemon.
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1989 300TE "Alice"
1990 300CE "Sam Spade"
1991 300CE "Beowulf" RIP (06.1991 - 10.10.2007)
1998 E320 "Orson"
2002 C320 Wagon "Molly Fox"

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  #14  
Old 03-03-2007, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by al76slc View Post
I love California. In NY you get a choice between 2 cheap economy cars.

Thats what I was thinking, mine would have thrown me a Buick POS if they were feeling friendly, but probably a Kia.

Thats about how I feel in regards to Caddy, they are coming along and have made a lot of progress. But they are not there yet.

My generation is going to kill them, we buy Acura's, Infiniti's, Lexus, Audi's, Mercedes, and BMW's. I can't think of anyone I know who has dreams of a new Caddy dancing in there minds...
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  #15  
Old 03-03-2007, 01:38 AM
John Holmes III
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BENZ-LGB View Post
John, you have been lucky.

My former 1999 (I think that in an earlier post I wrote 1998, but I checked the paperwork and it was a 1999 model) Northstar Seville was purchased new by my Dad. Because of my mom's illness the car became very inconvenient for her to get in and out. So I bought it from my dad.

Since new the car had been consuming about a quart of oil per 1000 miles. Numerous "exchanges" with the dealer got us no result. At one point we were even told that the oil consumption was normal and,now get this, that the high oil consumption was a design feature that allowed a fresh supply of oil to be runnign through the engine at all times. HA!!!

There are owners of 150k plus miles W124 in this forum who get all bent out of shape if their cars consume 1 quart of oil every 2k to 2.5k miles.

In a 6 month period of time, before the car reached 48k miles, a number of things began to go wrong with the car, including several tranny "issues." The car was at that point still under warranty, so it cost me nothing, but GM spent nearly $9k in that 6 month period of time. I finally said enough is enough and so I traded it in for my current 1998 E320.

So far the only "unusual" expense for the E320 has been repairing a bulky sunroof. the dealer paid for half, even though the car has been out of warranty for a long time.

I must admit that the Seville was a good looking car. It was black on black, with big, shiny chrome wheels. I felt like a Mafioso, or a pimp, driving it.

I must also admit that out ont he open road the car was fun. Big, fast, quiet and comfortable.

Just not very reliable and really expensive to maintain.

Maybe I got a lemon.

I agree, I got very lucky on my car. The dealer I bought the car from is a real gentleman, and I wouldn't have bought the car if someone else had been selling it. I figure if it lasts another five years, I did pretty well considering I paid around 8k for it.

The 2001 Eldorado my wife has is another story, it is still under GM warranty, and it had needed close to 15k in repairs. Mostly, because they rebuilt the engine trying to fix the oil consumption issue and it got worse. Then they ended up throwing the engine away and GM authorized a new factory longblock. The longblock itself retails for around 9 thousand. They even offered to buy the car back, but we declined. The new engine uses no oil between oil changes, go figure. The dealership experience has been without fault, they comp all oil changes and make sure a new Deville is always waiting when we drop it off. The warranty expires in a few months, and hopefully, the bugs have been worked out of the car by now. I'm sure GM is sorry that they ceritified this particular car.

The local MB dealer has horrible customer service, they are a high volume dealer that has changed hands three times in the last 18 years. When you see a waiting room with stained carpet and old magazines, you have to wonder how well they treat your car.

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