Sales Talk : No second chance for a first impression (Pt 2)

Mike Humble:

Vauxhall Insignia Sport Tourer

In a blog published a little while ago, I mentioned how the manufacturers could benefit by playing a much bigger involvement with dealers. Some of you might not know this, but it’s a process that already happens with some of the big groups. Ford and Peugeot’s Dagenham Motors and Robins and Day dealerships are both run by the manufacturers. In some cases, these centrally managed dealers fill the gaps in the network where an existing outlet has collapsed or closed down. Even our much missed MG Rover Group had a sprinkling of Phoenix outlets up and down the land.

My own area, West Sussex, has certainly gone through some turmoil so far as dealerships have been concerned. Our local and expansive PSA dealer folded last year never to be replaced, and the family-run Vauxhall and Chevrolet showroom in Horsham and Crawley ran into financial difficulties and folded without warning. Being a fairly affluent commuter-land area, I have been surprised that these dealers have not been re-franchised, but it just goes to show how cautious and financially restrictive the trade currently is. I for one would not be chomping at the bit to open a Peugeot showroom right now.

Forget what you might hear about the motor trade booming. Yes, it’s picking up nicely, but the incentive to buy is purely on a cost or need basis, with margins so thin that profit levels will soon be gauged with a micrometer. It will be some years to come before people start chopping and changing their cars on a whim, as they did pre-2008, and so far as the brands and dealerships matter, big changes are ahead. Only the fittest or strongest will survive. Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom – those customers who are in the market to buy have never been in a better situation.

For those not in the know, selling cars is a tough old slog regardless of the state of the economy. It requires the patience of a Saint;  a hard nosed attitude towards balancing profit with discounting and the ability to let rejection wash over you. Standards have slipped over recent years, as more experienced staff have left the game, only to be replaced by corporate droids in ill-fitting suits that, just a few weeks back, were selling mobile phones. Staff turnover is so high that one dealer group I know issues its sales staff with blank business cards, so they can write their own name down to save on printing costs.

But getting back to the crux of this blog, I recently drove the new Vauxhall Insignia EcoFlex at a test event, and came away reasonably impressed at the way it handled, drove and felt in terms of build quality. Sure, it’s not the most exiting or heart stopping car, but its best described as an ideal antidote to the Mondeo and in terms of fit and finish – closer to the Passat or anything German that GM have produced since the Senator of old. The aforementioned Vauxhall dealer that folded has very recently re-opened in Crawley under the GO! brand so I was keen to see how it works.

The new Insignia - It drives nicely, built as tight as a drum and really does deserve to do well.

The new Insignia – It drives nicely and is built as tight as a drum. It really does deserve to do well.

Unlike the dealer groups mentioned earlier, GO! is a fairly new brand, so one would expect it to be pin sharp, Bristol fashion and more on the ball than Alan Shearer ever was. Both my own and ‘er indoors’ company cars are due for a change, so the visit, as I was passing, was kind of relevant. Besides, I like to see how other sales staff work their patter, and maybe pick up one or two ideas from their sales banter. The exterior view was great with plenty of used stock neatly parked in slanted rows looking like colour-keyed soldiers standing to attention – and not a helium balloon in sight either – lovely!

I parked the car and wandered inside to be greeted with a cheery ‘hello’ from a member of the back office team. The showroom was large, well-lit and, right away, I felt at ease and impressed with the impeccable display of new metal on show. The dealer mock plates were perfectly applied to the cars rather than badly stuck on with double sided tape, and none of the dreaded black dust or broken brochure racks to spoil the overall ambiance – both personal pet hates from my time of working on the floor. I found the new Insignia on display and set about having a look-see around the car going into full browser mode.

Just as I would have done, a sales chap came by and asked if everything was okay. I rebuffed his advances with a patented reply and continued browsing. The man in question was cheery and smart looking, so after a few moments of further door and boot closing, I sauntered over to his desk to ask a question or two about the car before I left. After doing so well initially, the wheels fell off, so to speak, when it quickly became obvious he was lacking in the all important product knowledge. This would have been acceptable, had I asked something cryptic, but it was a simple query about the car’s CO2.

The question related to the class leading 98g/km 140 CDTi engine, which he seemed to know nothing about. This is criminal when you consider this model to be the key weapon in the Insignia’s armoury in the battle against the Mondeo and Passat Bluemotion. It got worse when he asked if my enquiry was about the Insignia or the ‘new’ Insignia – this confused me, as I wondered just how many Insignias they were selling. Another question was asked about the trim level of the car in the showroom – again, he couldn’t answer this and had to quiz a nearby colleague who seemed to take delight by answering in a loud voice from his desk.

Despite my being aghast at the lack of the most basic of knowledge, I felt sorry for the salesman in question. Obviously, he had been recently recruited and thrown in at the deep end somewhat, but he could have saved some face by explaining this right from the start. That way it wouldn’t have looked so crushingly embarrassing. It seems that despite challenging climates dealers continue to spectacularly fail, owing to a lack of sufficient training. And even though I wasn’t in the market to buy, would anyone else, or more importantly, YOU have continued your line of enquiry with that dealership?

The former Peter Stevens family run Vauxhall site that went into bankruptcy has now re-opened under GM incumbency.

The former Peter Stevens family-run Vauxhall site that went into administration and closed has now re-opened under the GO! Vauxhall banner. (© Copyright Stacey Harris and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)

The overall experience has be as near to 10/10ths in a car dealership, and you would be simply staggered at the reasons people give for not buying. When I used to chase potential customers on the ‘phone, I would ask why they opted to buy elsewhere or another brand. The answers that came back would range range from me being too pushy, or because they thought the dealership parking was awkward. There was even one occasion a potential customer chose not to buy from me because our coffee machine ran out of sugar – and I’m not joking either!

In a nutshell, its all about the experience and level of customer focus that wins the business, no dealer group or individual salesperson is ever going to be perfect. Sure, everyone wants a deal and wants to be treated with care and respect but if the most basic of the ABC’s are being missed out in terms of staff training, you may as well pack it all in and go home.  This is a real shame, not just for supporters of British-made cars like the Ellesmere Port produced Astra for example, but every person who plays their part in the creation from the parts suppliers to the boys and girls on the tracks.

Its been said before, and I shall repeat it again – you never get a second chance for a first impression!

Mike Humble

Mike Humble

Bus and Coach sales exec in Kent & South London

Former MG Rover Salesperson, Mechanic and Self Employed Motor Trader with companies including Henlys - Reg Vardy - Stratstone - Evans Halshaw & Phoenix Venture Holdings (retail)
Mike Humble


53 Responses

  1. Adam - December 23, 2013

    It’s about common sense really, which seems to be lost on most people these days. But if I were that salesman who’d been thrown in at the deep end, I’d make damn sure I read as much as I could about the range I was selling, especially the showroom models.

    Trouble is that with most places, the wrong people are in charge, they seem to favour the ‘brown nosers’ rather than the competent one’s that know what they’re on about….

    Merry Christmas Mike ;)

  2. John Hackett - December 23, 2013

    Typical Vauxhall really. Always details away from getting the job right. Same with their products, same with everything they do. Mediocre in every respect.

  3. Antoinne - December 23, 2013

    The trouble with these articles are that it appears that you go into these showrooms either looking for trouble/problems and/or to prove that you are a better car-salesman than the one in the showroom from whom you are not really going to buy anything, because your only purpose appears to be to obtain material to write about.

    The salesman’s question about whether you were looking at the new model (i.e. the recently launched face-lifted version) or the existing (pre-facelift) seemed a fair one to me. No doubt they had stock of the old model and no doubt there was as good deal available on it. Some people will be attracted by that, others will only want the new model.

    In an ideal world, he should have been able to answer your question, but the Vauxhall range is large and most serious buyers have researched the car thoroughly online before going to a showroom and know more about the car than the salesman, having configured it online.

    What you want from the salesman, is a test drive of the actual model that you are interested in, with the equipment that you are interested in, and if the car is for you, what deal can be struck and when it can be delivered. Answers to any questions, and professional and consumer reviews of the car can all be found online.

  4. Hilton D - December 23, 2013

    Product knowledge from a salesman is essential. They dont need to know the ins and outs of mechanicals and electronics but colour/trim and power outputs are basic essentials.

    As an enthusiastic customer, I always do my homework on these aspects beforehand – and out of interest anyway.

  5. Hilton D - December 23, 2013

    Forgot to say, I didn’t realise that Robins & Day were part of Peugeot themselves. I always thought “Dagenham Ford” were though. Like I say you always find something of interest at aronline!

  6. Mike Humble Mike Humble - December 23, 2013

    Antoinne

    if you have read all the articles you will see that when they have been on the ball, they get mentioned too.

    To say I go in looking for problems / trouble is not the case, nor do I go in as you state to prove if I am better sales person.

    I occasionally visit the Gin palaces because I am passionate about the craft and practice of good customer service and also because a great number of people don’t fully understand the nature of the sales process.

    The purpose stands to show how the manufacturers spend huge sums of money trying to produce novel and groundbreaking new cars only only for the dealers to often cock it up resulting in the customers simply buying elsewhere.

    Dealers so often bleat about difficult times or uncompetitive products they can’t sell. When times are tough you have to be smart and productive whilst being good with every customer you are lucky enough to see or encounter. But you really do need to ask the question…. How would YOU have reacted to the situation?

    The new Insignia is a hugely important product for Vauxhall as they are desperate to make some inroads in terms of volume sales and work as a halo effect for the rest of the range including the British made Astra.

    I never spend more than 5 minutes in these places as not to waste time but doing it simply to obtain material to write about? well… trust me… I could write a book.

    What ANYONE requires from a salesman is not an Oracle or walking brochure, but at least the basics. As I touched upon in the article, the failure was not so much as he, but more of the dealership in not training the guy in how to deal with questions he can’t answer…. There is a process for overcoming this and it’s not a colleague taking the Mickey as was the case in the showroom.

    If you still think its to make myself look better or cleverer…. Believe me my friend – nothing could be further from the truth!

  7. francis brett francis brett - December 23, 2013

    For every bad salesman there will be ten bad customers.

  8. Glenn A - December 23, 2013

    It’s a hard job and obviously like everyone else, I have been guilty of being a browser and not being serious until I see a car I like. Usually what wins me over is a decent sticker price, good knowledge of the product, good after sales care and a car you know has been cared for with an FSH.
    About 30 months ago I needed an economical car that was also could cope well on long journeys and was reliable. I visited a well known corporate Ford dealer as I quite liked the new shape Fiesta, but the trade in was awful, the salesmen were clueless and they kept adding on extras. Walking away, I visited a smaller family dealer who had one of the last of the old shape Fiestas for £ 5700 with a year’s free warranty and a free MOT and service. Seeing they were offering me £ 800 more for my Nissan( they are a Nissan and Hyundai dealer with a Ford service centre) and the deal was good, I decided to buy this slighter older but well cared for car.
    I think this is what people go for, a good deal and decent customer service.

  9. The Wolseley Man - December 23, 2013

    I have made mention of this before (forgive me) but my point is so related to your article Mike.
    When our brand new TH White Alfa Romeo/Fiat/Jeep main dealer opened in Swindon a few months ago, Mrs W and myself left it a week or so for the dust to settle and then ventured into the showroom. Believe me, I was not looking for trouble or trying to prove I was a better car salesman (I haven’t been one for over 40 years!) or looking for material for this website. What we were contemplating was changing the MINI Clubman for a Mito. We were greeted at the door by a ‘receptionist’ – although no attempt was made to establish whether we wanted parts, sales or service.
    The Mito was at the far end of the showroom and I proceeded to it. Wearing an Alfa Romeo insignia body-warmer, I spent a good 20-25 minutes looking all over this car whilst Mrs W waited patiently at the Parts Counter for a silly little catch ‘guide’ for the sliding door on our Fiat motorhome.
    I could not gain eye contact with anyone. Three or four guys in suits kept too-ing and fro-ing from an office but apparently none wanted to talk to a man who had opened every door, laid down by the side of, sat in and generally made all the right moves to be really interested in buying this car!
    The only other customer was the guy in front of Mrs W at the Parts Counter. Mrs W could not be served by the three other staff on Parts because only xxxxxxxx knew how to access the parts list on the screen – and he was busy with the only customer they had!
    Mike – you are absolutely right. You never get a second chance of a first impression. With the outstanding service I get from MINI – I could never even think about leaving that dealership and downgrade to the experience I have just related.

  10. Steve - December 23, 2013

    The problem I find with Vauxhall is they tend to be bought by either Motability customers (often work shy, clueless about cars in general and ignorant of anything else on the market) or people that know nothing about cars and want something convenient and easy to run. There is nothing aspirational about Vauxhalls and there never has been, they are a boring sub brand of a sub brand and have very little exclusivity.

  11. francis brett francis brett - December 23, 2013

    @10, You would suit one, it sounds like your mouth is where your ringpiece should be.

    Funnily enough, the Insignia is the best selling used car of its size.

  12. yme402 - December 23, 2013

    Had 10 enjoyable and successful years at Robins and Day (Peugeot) and in that time, i can count on one hand the number of brand new 406/407s I sold (read Vauxhall Insignia).
    Sad fact was that anyone looking at one was was going to be 99.999% a user chooser whose car would be sourced centrally through a lease company. On a 8k basic it was a brochure and cheerio to anyone looking at one in the showroom, as you couldnt give up the chance of a genuine punter wandering in on a used car or a nice little 207 on finance.

  13. Zantimisfit66 - December 23, 2013

    The trouble with Vauxhall’s is they’re not “aspirational”. All that stuff makes me laugh – this constant vacuous snobbery about brands. Put four rings on the front and call it an A4.5 then. As I read somewhere – if you want something that drives like a 3 series, is more spacious, better equipped, more comfortable and, most importantly, more “exclusive” – buy a Mondeo!

  14. Andy Goundry - December 23, 2013

    It seems to me that actually the brand is almost irrelevant when it comes to good customer experience, what matters is the attitude & abilities of the individual garage, whether it be family, group or manufacturer owned. I’ve had both good and bad experiences at different BMW dealers, likewise Ford, Honda and Volkswagen. To give examples, Honda experiences vary from total lack of interest in selling a new car to voluntarily offering – and succeeding – in submitting an out-of-warranty goodwill claim on a 7 year old wheel bearing. Another was being told repeatedly that incredibly high usage of windscreen wash fluid from an in-warranty Audi was “because they also have headlamp washers sir” only to discover a split pipe by stripping the car myself in desperation!

  15. Glenn A - December 23, 2013

    @9 The Wolseley Man, it seems Fiat and Alfa Romeo can’t get rid of their reputation for poor customer service in their bigger dealerships( I do know of two family run ones that have been selling them for decades as a counterpoint to this). The cars themselves are a lot better than they were, the 500 and the Panda have been massive successes, but many of the dealers are apathetic and disinterested and Fiat still scores badly in JD Power due to this.

  16. The Wolseley Man - December 23, 2013

    Steve@10
    Thank you so much for your insulting and crass comments concerning Motability customers. I’ll remember to show this to my hardworking son who knows quite a bit about cars and who’s eldest child has Downs Syndrome. Your so kind – and at Christmas too.
    You are also clearly very young or you wouldn’t be saying such daft things about Vauxhall’s. This is not a personal insult to you however, merely an acknowledgement of over 100 years of company history together with a highly successful current range of products – according to National Sales Figures.
    Please don’t bother to reply as I never continue to read threads when personal insults and crass stupidity begin to erode what is an otherwise interesting discussion.

  17. Tim Pearson - December 24, 2013

    We enthusiastic (and mostly) amateurs always think the car has reached the limit of its development. Yet the manufacturers then commit vast resources in developing it further. Why, oh why do they then allow the product to be so badly presented?

  18. francis brett francis brett - December 24, 2013

    @17
    Just like Renault with the current Megane, tweak the lights, shave the bumpers etc.

    To what effect?

    @16
    Thank you for your gracious reply to comment No 10.
    I once knew a dear friend that used a Motability vehicle always worked, never complained.

  19. Dave - December 24, 2013

    GM is looking quite foolish again. This time, the product is actually quite good, but I know in European markets that the whole Opel/Vauxhall vs. Chevrolet thing is not working out well. I think that they literally need to completely remake how they’re marketing models, and the Cruze and Sonic should probably immediately be badged as Opels or Vauxhalls. It seems that they’re determined to undermine the confidence of literally every single buyer in Europe right now, and it’s about to be replayed in slow motion in Australia, too.

  20. francis brett francis brett - December 24, 2013

    @19 GM are pulling Chevrolet out of Europe, and committed to the GME arm. Do they want to lose many, many more Billions closing GME operations?

    None of us here are in a exulted position to lecture GM having come out of chapter 11 bankruptcy-still a ethical minefield and seem to be on the right path.

    The last thing anybody needs is BMW’s VW’s as the only choice of car.

  21. francis brett francis brett - December 24, 2013

    http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/71546000/jpg/_71546105_hi020229193.jpg

  22. Glenn Aylett - December 24, 2013

    Anyone think the Insignia is quite a good looking car that looks upmarket? It seems to be a big step forwards from the Vectra.

  23. Adam - December 24, 2013

    I like the Insignia, my parents hired one recently and I was impressed with it.

  24. Chris Young - December 24, 2013

    I quite like the Insignia and especially the face lifted version. I can never understand the reason for selling cars here as Chevys, i remember the adverts when they first did it. Showing Camaros and Corvettes that as far as I’m aware were never sold here. And would anyone buying a Chevrolet know what a Corvette was? Seems to fall flat on its face from the start.

  25. Russell G - December 25, 2013

    @24 The Camaro and Corvette are both available in the UK, unfortunately in LHD form only which limits the already limited appeal (with petrol prices being what they are in the UK) somewhat.
    The problem with Chevrolet in Europe were the dreadful Daewoos they rebadged in the beginning (remember the Tacuma?). Given the issues GM Europe are facing having another brand when they have surplus Opels/Vauxhalls probably wasn’t sensible.

  26. alex scott nzl 69 alex scott - December 25, 2013

    Personally I wouldn’t be worried about C02. Im much more fussed about how the car looks, how good the seats are, number of seat belts, load space foot space, how it handles and performs, cabin noise, visibility outward – all those personal things. If I found two cars that were perfect in all those areas I might then be concerned about the Fuel economy and then ….Im not even remotely interested in the CO2. Why – Because I would expect that a car being sold today new should comply with the latest requirements.

  27. Darren - December 25, 2013

    I’d be more worried about Vauxhall residuals: my (20k) 3 yr old Astra appears to have retained just 36% of it’s original price!

    Recently, I have been visiting showrooms in search of a replacement, and can report attentive service from sales personnel in local Honda, VW and Audi dealers.
    Keen to help, knowledgeable, and offered test drives before requested.

  28. francis brett francis brett - December 26, 2013

    @27, Try Range Rovers then you would commit suicide after 3 years with a Vogue.

    Only a mug would buy brand new with their private cash, let someone else take a pill.

    Most private citizens don’t care about residuals if its on the never never, they will worry about all that when the car is dead or traded in, it just puts the buyer on a downer and they switch off.

    Do you really “need” a new car?

    Our local Honda dealer fobbed off the mother in law with two gearbox flushes (how can that replace worn metal)just so it would put her just out of the warranty period when the HUK0000000017 gearbox rework was in force.

    Soon got that sorted and her next car is a KA.

  29. Duncan Duncan Macrae - December 26, 2013

    Always liked the Insignia , its a rubbish name though , reminds me of the cheap 80s aftershave that Superdrug and woolworths always used to stock!

  30. Richard Davies - December 26, 2013

    I did wonder why GM decided chose to use Chevrolet for rebranding Daewoos when it brings up images of cars with big block V8′s.

    I still thing of the Insignia cosmetics, at least Vauxhall don;’t use it’s slogan “Create a buzz, not a hum”.

  31. Tony Evans - December 27, 2013

    Actually, I prefer the Insignia (Ziggy) to a Mondeo but… the 1.9 diesels and the 2.0 diesels are direct descendants from one of the worst engines ever made, the GM / FIAT joint venture diesel. I have heard many tales of cam belts being flung off causing £1,000s of damage due to the failure of a £35 water pump at 20-30k miles. Never mind the other well known problems with this engine (swirl flaps, leaking injector seals, sticky EGR valves to name but three…)

    The engine alone would put me off a Ziggy although the interior is quite pleasant. I notice also that the interior space is pretty small for such a big car and not much better than an Astra.

    I had quite a few Vauxhalls during the 80s and 90s and very good they were too, right up to my last Cavalier diesel which did 56k miles in 2 years without missing a beat. Shame that it all went wrong with the stodgy Vectra which is the car that drove me away from Vauxhall and into the arms of the Germans (VW Golf Mk2 for 7 years, then a Mk4). Currently driving a Merc C class which is not much more expensive than a similar spec Vectra and holds it’s value a sight better.

    Did look seriously at an Astra but was put off by potential engine issues, the electronic parking brake … and the “salesmen” at Arnold Clark in Winsford. What a bunch of jokers! Embody the worst of all the salesman sterotypes you can think of. Test drive was fine until the salesman “could not value my car for trade in because only the sales manager can do that”. Wait for 20 minutes, eventually sales manager turns up mucks me about for 10 minutes before coming up with a load of guff about the trade-in being dependent on whether I took out finance etc etc. Doubtless he didn’t realise that I had already had the car valued at Fords of Winsford against a similar vehicle and had not noticed that I was not born yesterday.

    Nor were either of the people I spoke to able to discuss technical specifications with me through lack of knowledge. I knew more about the tech spec of the car than either the salesman or his manager. Needless to say that I left the showroom without a backward glance.

    In contrast, Mercedes in Erdington (Birmingham) was 1.5 hours drive from home but a far better experience and part of the reason why I pushed the financial boat out and bought a Merc. 12 months on and first service by Mercedes Warrington and I could not be happier.

    Nothing against Vauxhall, but if you want to sell the car, make it reliable, comfortable and economical and provide a good experience to your customers including fair and honest dealing. Simples!

  32. francis brett francis brett - December 27, 2013

    @31
    Aye the C Classes, with their injector failures, SAM failures that do the engine ECM as well glow plugs that fail in the CDi V6 and snap meaning heads off, not to mention the oil cooler O rings in the vee that always fail.

    Oh and the OM651 engine- how many pairs of hands do I need for counting blown engines I have replaced.

  33. Tony Evans - December 28, 2013

    @francis brett: Mine is a lowly 200 CDi with a 4 cylinder, 136 bhp single turbo engine. So, unlikely to blow the engine, especially as I drive for economy and rarely go beyond 2,500 rpm. Note 70mph is a mere 1900rpm in top on this model.

    Anyway, can’t be any worse than having your pistons meet their valves every 20-30k miles due to a waterpump failure and the myriad of other afflictions that hit the Vectra. Or any worse than the rash of cylinder head failures on VAG 2.0 TDi engines that result in water in the cylinders, hydraulic-ing and writing off of engines.

    So far I’ve done 15,000 miles in the car (25k on the clock) with no problems, although I will need rear tyres in a couple of months.

    You pays your money…

  34. Adam - December 28, 2013

    @32- Sadly quite right about Mercedes, the high level of engineering isn’t what it used to be at all; a real shame…

  35. John H - December 28, 2013

    Well you must have driven a different Insignia to the one I have. It is an 11 Plate Sri 160 diesel, and it is noisy, slow, unreliable, uncomfortable and is very low on kit. My advice would be to buy a mondeo.

  36. francis brett francis brett - December 28, 2013

    @33
    Typical one make forum surfing. The early VAG TDI porous heads are old news,pre ’05 models. Yes you get head gaskets blowing.

    So its the Vectra water pump now? or Insignia? every 25K?
    Never seen one yet, seen the swirl flaps leak on old shagged out 90k plus abused Vectras and a few 40k ones.

    If you delve deep enough on a Ford forum you will see the ABS warning light one that requires £900 worth of engine bay wiring loom due to water ingress- before labour.

    I don’t know if you have the OM646 or OM651 engine in yours but its the 651 (gear driven valvetrain at rear of block that’s prone to blowing to bits due to its thin cast walls and HP fuel management system- especially the CDi 130′s.

    Cars are washing machines now, you either want a BEKO or Siemens,Bosch or whatever.

    I remember a time when cars had two sets of front discs in their entire lifetime, now its every third service on a Picasso. Materials science eh?

    Moral of the story- cars are different grades of shit.

  37. Tony Evans - December 28, 2013

    @33 Francis, you can find anything you want in t’internet and every make of car has its’ problems. You either get a good one or a bad one statistically.

    My experience with the GM/Fiat diesel is pretty extensive. Seen several go, especially in Saab 9-3s and Zafiras but it’s a very similar engine to the 2.0 in fact a direct descendant and the swirl flap issue is well known and an £800 fix. There are lots and lots of instances of this occurring, in fact it has featured on consumer rights programs and the dealer i know plus our local indie both reckon that you should do the cambelt & waterpump every 25k on these engines.

    VAG 2.0 tdi heads? Well, it took them 6 years and 3 sets of modifications to get them right. I’m not talking about porous although that too on early ones, I mean cracking between the valve seats. Our local indie does one of them every 3-4 weeks at £1,200 for the head plus labour. I was even told which engine number sequence to look out for.

    I think that Merc have worked pretty hard to get their engineering reputation back in the last few years and there are statistically less Merc failures than GM/Fiat failures (per 1000 cars).

    I’d be quite happy with a Ziggy as a hire car, just wouldn’t want to own one. As I said, I have previously owned several Vauxhalls, petrol & diesel, and they were all pretty good, Novas, Astra and a Cavalier. Certainly better than the Escort I bought of necessity and got rid of cheerfully 18 months later.

    As for Vauxhall sales, I’m yet to find a good VX or Ford dealer!

  38. francis brett francis brett - December 28, 2013

    @37, we can argue or discuss this all night, Im a Mercedes amongst other Marques technician and im in and out of the Milton Keynes facility. The 651 engine came into being because of pedestrian safety- that being the reason for having gears at the back of the engine, and whilst smooth can clatter a bit at idle-sit next to a 906 Sprinter and you will know what I mean.

    Its so problematic Northgate PLC whom I work for said it does not want any more 313 CDI’s with this particular engine.

    If you think MB is rebuilding its engineering reputation on this engine I will have a kilo of whatever you are smoking.

    Same for the V6 CDI.

  39. Tony Evans - December 29, 2013

    OM651 in the sprinter is a twin turbo rated at 160bhp — and if my experience of Sprinter drivers is anything to go by gets thrashed within an inch of its’ life most of the time. [Especially the ones signwritten for hire companies :D] The OM651 in mine is single turbo rated at 136bhp and doesn’t get flogged.

    The Merc 4cyl diesel is nowhere near as smooth as my old Honda 2.2ictdi but is more economical. I’m up to 25k miles without any issues so far. Time will tell.

    I’d still rather have my Merc than a Ziggy any day.

    PS, I don’t smoke anything ;)

  40. Tony Evans - December 29, 2013

    Forgot to add, OM651 aka 220CDi has piezo electric injects and Merc were delivered a faulty batch in 2009-10 by Delphi who make them. Problem was largely sorted by mid-2011 and modified injectors are now used.

    The 200 series have a different type of injector which appear to be a lot better.

  41. francis brett francis brett - December 29, 2013

    @39,
    I don’t know where you get your info from but the OM651 in the 906653 Sprinter(313 CDi) while it has a twin turbo is rated at 129 BHP, I know we have thousands of the things, and one of our own service vans has had three engines in a row-not due to being valve bounced down the M6o all day as it is tracked right down to each stop/start and clutch depression.

    Northgate is MB warranty accredited, our Star machines are licensed from Mercedes Benz, WE have what MERC have, tools, Xentry,DAS and WiS even bloody ten channel HERMANN scopes the dealers don’t use. Technical bullitins,recalls and workshops all around the UK full of MB’s Fords, Vauxhalls and VAG vehicles in pieces.

    We have had 646 engines with upwards of 570k miles under them they are reasonably bullet proof.

    Can you tell me which CDi did not have piezos 08 on?

  42. Paul the Van - December 29, 2013

    Astonishing…
    What’s this about bad customers here and time-wasting customers in part one?!?
    And here I was thinking that everyone was worth some service.
    Maybe not everybody wants to buy a car every time they stroll into a showroom, but I’m sure they will remember the bad service for years to come.
    And the time will come that he/she eventually will buy a new car…

    What was the title of this blog again?

    I’m sure it wasn’t “let’s roast vauxhall, calling people names or being freaking rude!”
    Jeez…

  43. francis brett francis brett - December 29, 2013

    The thing is, most “salesmen” are merely order takers nowadays. Those whom are hungry enough to sell a car normally own the plot that sells the cars.

    The other extreme is were they are ringing you up badgering you for a deal-off putting.

    Then you have folk prancing into dealers demanding full tanks, mats and full years rent in the window not realising the margins are small on the car, admin, wages gas and lecky and rates don’t come free, yet these same people think nothing of buying a car with cash online and walking away with a 3 month warranty only.

    Of course that is the second hand side of the market, the most important one with 8 million sales a year.

  44. Paul - December 30, 2013

    Well FB you seem to have taken apart and put back together just about every car on the market and apparently they are all rubbish. Surely there must be one that’s worth having? Perhaps you could enlighten us then we can head off to the respective dealer to see how good the salesman is. Although judging from the content of these pages the chances of finding a good car allied to a decent dealer must be virtually zero.

  45. francis brett francis brett - December 30, 2013

    @44,

    I’m a PAS125 accredited senior technician-no big deal, so I just about see every car, engine/box/suspension out blah blah and the Thatcham repair methods and after the 500th car from way back when I decided most cars are toilets and washing machines. So buy an old Focus.

    I just see stuff from a different angle to most, all the guts and gore, all the cheap castings from pig iron,shite wheel bearings and engine failures.

    Honda has shocked me with smoky poor TIG welds on collision critical components recently too.

    Would I have the more reliable Mondeo over the Insignia? No.

    Do I like the Current and forthcoming C Class? Very much so.

    Would I have one? Yes indeed.

    Would I have a Sprinter over a Transit? Always.

  46. Tony Evans - January 1, 2014

    @44 almost PMSL. Or, as my kids say, laughed so much I nealy fell off my dinosaur.

    I spent most of my early years under cars, my father was a motor mechanic and as we didn’t have much money, we made do and mended. That was the late 60s to early 80s. All cars are built to a price. That goes with the territory.

    Reliability figures are about statistics, you get a good one or you get a bad one. I had a terrible experience with a Mk4 Golf, in the dealers so much that Mrs E thought I was having an affair with the receptionist [she was tasty though...] and yet other people reckon that the Mk4 is brilliant. We didn’t buy another VW (as a family) for 10 years afterwards, at least partly because of the dealer after sales service. PS, VW UK are a right shower too.

    In contrast, my Honda FRV did 85,000+ miles in 5 years without anything more than routine service items other than a couple of drop link bushes. Or am I missing something there as well? I didn’t buy a new Honda because our local stealers, sorry dealers, changed hands and Merc offered me £1,000 better deal.

    We’d all like a car built for a million miles that never breaks down, sips fuel and goes like stink. We could probably build one too but it would be so expensive that you would never buy one.

    PS, FB, I’m thinking of buying an early 90s Merc 190 as a classic car runabout. Could you just assassinate, sorry disect those for me as well so I know what to look for? ;)

  47. francis brett francis brett - January 1, 2014

    @46,
    Buy one, its the last of the granite hewn Mercs. 100% oil pressure whatever the miles.

    So you have taken four wheels off a car, proud of you son.

  48. Ivor Biggun - January 2, 2014

    I, also, can identify with this article. I run a 2 year old insignia which I have serviced at the local Vauxhall Garage. This garage was the long established family run Moorland Motors (based in Blackpool, Lancashire) where the knowledge, facts, figures, key selling points were demonstrated by the salespersons. Since then, I visited the dealership this last week – and – shock horror, it has now become an Arnold Clark dealership. All of a sudden, all of the salesperson’s knowledge from Moorland Motors was gone – I was talking to a salesman about the daftely named Vauxhall Mokka and was surprised to find out that he couldn’t tell me much about the car – i.e. what platform it was based on, the engines in the range, the current price of the model on show!! For me, it is just another example of the decline of the car dealership and knowledge and proof that they are being replaced by a load of Muppets who could qualify to appear in Alan Sugar’s The Apprentice!

  49. francis brett francis brett - January 2, 2014

    @48, You see this in most sectors, lunatics replace good knowledgeable people with drones on a fiver an hour that can only say “I will ask the question”-disappointing.

  50. stevo - January 2, 2014

    Never liked Vauxhalls. Full stop!

  51. Christopher Storey - January 2, 2014

    Oh, there have been some lovely Vauxhalls in the past. Up to the second world war they were desirable European cars with an American tinge . The post war Wyvern/Velox cars were far superior to the equivalent Ford offerings. The 101 VX4/90 was a nice car both to drive and look at. The Viva HB SL90 particularly in its Brabham version was again very handsome and a really good drive. The early Ventora showed the virtue of plenty of torque . The first Cavalier was a really splendid car for a volume product. The Senator in its various versions was about the best volume manufacturer’s large car . It is fair to say that later products have not had the same attractions , but the 60s to 80s cars were very acceptable

  52. John H - January 2, 2014

    The best Vauxhall I have ever had (and ive had 8) was a 1985 Mark 2 Cavalier. Fast, quiet, comfortable, totally reliable (even after 144000 miles), economical, good looking and a good level of equipment (for the time).

  53. Will M - January 3, 2014

    I know a Vauxhall fan
    (They do exist!)

    He bought a Vectra VXR, brand new, and had it delivered from Aston in England.
    The local Vauxhall dealer here is unfortunately ‘Ballyrobert’.
    They used to be good when they were Dencourts – local family dealer.

    But now full of sales drones who might as well be peddling mobiles or offering you covercare in Currys.
    The service department full of fresh faced out of technical college teenagers who are handed a spanner and told to get to work.
    He left the VXR in for a full service at Ballyrobert. It came back and, whatever they’d done, they’d disabled the entire dashboard.
    The service record was also a piece of grubby paper, rather than the stamp and a small file with a receipt in as you would expect from a new car.
    He complained about the dash being broken, left it in again, got it back and it was full of mucky bootprints. Might be acceptable from a backstreet mechanic on a 15 year old banger, not a brand new top of the range car at a main dealer!
    He got so fed up with the lack of servicing ability that he ended up selling it, bought a cheaper vauxhall and used a good independent.

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