So… the engine on my Chevrolet Aveo abruptly stopped working today. Always a nice experience!
After getting it towed to a local mechanic who asked what happened, I related how the engine pretty much just stopped, all power-assist features went away, but the electrical gear still worked fine. I also told him that I was thinking it was probably a belt that broke or something.
- The good news: I was right! :( — Specifically, it was the timing belt.
- The bad news: The engine on the 2004 Aveo seems designed to self-destruct in this particular failure mode. Initial best-case estimates for damages are in the range of $1500.
- The worse news: This is a known problem for 2004 Aveos (my model year). For instance, try Google searching for aveo timing belt and be absolutely amazed at all the 2004-specific hits that pop up.
My car was at about 53,000 miles, the timing belt was supposed to be replaced at 60,000 miles (and had been inspected sat at around the 30,000 mile point). I even bothered having regular maintenance performed. Apparently Chevrolet knew about problems with the timing belts, as indicated by a Technical Service Bulletin 06-06-01-021 (the summary of which can be found at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration 2004 Aveo TSB listings). I don’t have access to the full text but apparently GM would pay for the belt to be replaced (sans labor) before 55,000 miles, but that offer has since been rescinded.
So I called Chevrolet customer service, who essentially told me to go pay for the car to be towed to an authorized dealer, pay for an official inspection of the damage, and then they would decide whether they would show any responsibility for the damage caused. I’m OK with paying to have the car towed, and even to have them perform their inspection, but not without some measure of what I can expect to get in return besides “we might pay for part of the repairs”. Especially when the non-dealer shop is refusing to mention “best-case” prices below $1500! I don’t even want to think of what the “authorized dealer” would charge to fix their own shoddy parts sourcing. For that matter, I wonder how it is that GMAC Financing and seemingly every other GM-related subsidiary never had problems sending me junk mail, but receiving fairly serious technical bulletins describing engine-totaling casualties was left out of the mailing loop.
So this is my warning to you, if you have a Chevrolet Aveo, get that timing belt replaced probably every 40,000 miles or so (30,000 might not be bad either) until you can feasibly get rid of the car. One of my friends always made fun of me for buying a Chevy, and now I see exactly how right he is… Sayonara, General Motors.