Oh My God. Never buy a Chrysler product. My reasoning? It’s a dangerous product that not only thinks for you, but also will endanger your life and damage the interior for something as simple as a flat tire. This, in my opinion, is one of the best examples of piss-poor engineering.
Why? My first example was when I encountered one of these vans last winter. It was two weeks old, still with dealer plates, and it had overheated. It did start and run, but the windows were frosted over because of the cold morning.
To see where I was going, I lowered the driver’s window to stick my head out. When I lifted my butt off of the driver’s seat, the car put itself into park and set the parking brake, making me hit my head against the door pillar.
Not realizing what had transpired, I did it again, and it did it again. I assume this is a “safety” feature so if you fall out of the car, it won’t run you over. But what if I need to get out and push the POS when it breaks down? Will it allow me to put it in neutral, get out, then push? Or will it fight me the whole way?
I do not want my car to think for me!
Second, and even more dangerous, is the spare tire. Chrysler puts the spare tire under the driver’s seat, toward the center of the car. To lower the tire, which is a donut that will be flat anyway, you must remove the cup holder and use the tire iron and jack “handle” to lower it.
Every turn of the tire iron hits the dash and leaves a mark or gouge on the dash. It’s totally unavoidable. Then, one must completely unwind the cable that holds the spare in place while pulling it all the way out from under the car. It will only come out on the driver’s side. This is very difficult to do alone and takes a lot of time to unwind.
Because it only comes out on the driver’s side, you have to expose yourself to traffic. If the driver’s front tire is flat, the task is nearly impossible. And the spare will be flat anyway, due to the nature of donut spares.
You also must fight to get the covers off and dismount the spare from the cable.
No, this is not just a Chrysler phenomenon. The Toyota Sienna has a similar mechanism.
I tend to refuse to change tires on either of these vehicles, and end up just towing them.
Now, think about it. It’s pouring rain, and you are now going to get completely soaked just trying to get the spare tire out. And then you get run over while fighting this stupid tire, that’s flat and useless anyway.
This is the car that convinced me to never buy a Chrysler product, and I was actually considering a Jeep when I was looking for a new car. No!
How a car company mounts a spare tells me a lot about the quality of the car. If they don’t think about ease of operation and safety for something simple and important like that, what does it say about the rest of the car?
(This is the second commentary of our new columnist, Ray Elliott. He wrote it in response to my recent review of the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid for Bay Area News Group and this site.)
(A tow truck driver in the Silicon Valley in California for more than 20 years, Elliott makes videos and writes about his daily experiences at his workplace, a 26,000-pound tow truck. Please visit his website, idiotsontheinterstate.com. Contact him via email: [email protected])