Car Problems : Infinity G20

Discussion in 'Community' started by radhak, Jan 29, 2004.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2003
    Location:
    NJ, USA
    #1
    i am not aware of any forum exclusively devoted to cars, so i turn to here, my only refuge ;)

    my brother bought an Infinity G20 (1999) 20 days ago from a small-time dealer in Phoenix, AZ for $9000. (dealer got the car at some auction). Got it tested independently, no problems. Carfax report, all good.

    Suddenly last week it stopped dead while driving. Everything stopped - no power, no lights, no brakes, no nothing. he could not even put his windows down. he was lucky the traffic light was green (he could not have stopped, no brakes!) and he could go past it, slowly steer it to the side of the road and wait for help. a cop appeared, and told him he needed to get off the road because the shoulder was not big enough; when told of the problem, he offered to push this car with his own as long as bro could steer it. well, his 'push' wasn't gentle enough, and this car kept rolling, and the cop had to be told to go gentle... just shows how bad it was.

    anyway, he got it towed it home (was late at night, dealer not available); the next morning, the car started! he drove it to the dealer, who did not believe that a car could die out like that, and then start without a fuss. Still, after a couple of hours of tinkering around, the dealer gives his car back to him saying the car should be fine now, he has recharged the battery and he can't see anything wrong.

    later, brother took the car for a comprehensive checkup at an Infinity dealer, but nothing turns up there, other than a comment that the car is fine, maybe the alternator needs replaced.

    yesterday, brother is driving on a freeway, and the same thing happens again - total shutdown. he panics, but manages to put the hazard lights on, and steers the car (using its own momentum) to the shoulder. this time (once he overcomes his fright) he calls the dealer who sends his mechanic. the mechanic changed the battery with one he had brought, and the car started.

    now the dealer has given my brother a loaner car while he tests the G20 for 2 days.

    my query is, has anybody seen this before? is this a battery / alternator problem? i am pushing my brother to try and return the car and get another from the same dealer.
    since the one-month warranty period offered by the dealer is still in force, he should be okay replacing with another from his own stable, right?

    any ideas? is this a lemon? are there lemon laws in AZ? personally, i felt this has potential for a dangerous situation, being in a car on the road with no brakes or anything. i mean, what if the next time it shuts down is in the way of traffic going across?
     
  2. macrumors 65816

    strider42

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    #2
    battery/alternator shouldn't affect the brakes I don't think. its pretty much required by law, as is my understanding, that the brakes have to work even if the car completely dies. If the car is doing this, in my opinion there is something seriously wrong and he should return the car immediately unless they can find out what actually caused it and can fix it under warranty. If they can't explain why the brakes would die, he should tell them that the car is defective and that he wants a refund or another car. If they give him trouble about it, he should ask them how much a lawsuit is worth to them should the brakes go out and someone gets hurt and they refused to do anything when told about it.
     
  3. macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2002
    #3
    no brakes.... that's nasty... if you loose all electrical power, then you'll lose the power assistance /servo to the brakes, so they'll be extremely heavy to press and will lack any progression but they should still work.

    If it were me, I'd want a replacement car, something like that happening will destroy your faith in the car, and you'll always be waiting for something similar to happen.
     
  4. macrumors 68010

    evoluzione

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Location:
    down the road, that's where i'll always be
    #4
    probably quite simply a loose connection on the ECU (Electronic Control Unit). there may be a plug or socket that's come loose perhaps. I had that same problem on my old Lancia, I was driving around a corner when I lost everything, fortunately I have regular servo assisted brakes, so i could still use them a few times before they locked up. opened the hood, and just made sure the connector thing was secure, after that, everything was fine again.

    it does scare me with the increasing electronics in cars these days, even steering is now by wire.

    good luck!
     
  5. macrumors 65816

    strider42

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    #5
    What car has steer by wire. I was pretty sure they aren't allowed to do that either. I've seen concepts, but I thought brakes and steering had to be mechanical, though they can and usuallly are power assisted. throttle by wire is allowed because it won't prevent you from steering the car to safety in the case of a problem.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2003
    Location:
    NJ, USA
    #6
    update

    the latest is that the dealer has agreed on principle that a change of car should be allowed. he did not at first, but i prompted my brother (by cell phone) to mention the idea of a lawsuit like strider mentioned above, and i guess that worked ;)

    of course at the same time they did find the alternator 'not working right' (whatever that meant) and have replaced it. they want to test the car a day or two more (even if bro wants the same one back). but then, as iGav said, it would be like simply waiting for the other shoe to drop; might as well change cars...

    edit : the explanation for the brakes failing was that once the engine stops (because the alternator failed), the 'power' went out of the 'power brakes', so theoretically if the driver had a enough strength (superhuman strength, actually), he would be able to press it hard enough for it to work. dunno if thats exactly true; need to research it a bit.
     
  7. macrumors 68040

    patrick0brien

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2002
    Location:
    The West Loop
    #7
    -strider42

    AFAIK the Saturn VUE is the first, and still only vehicle with Electronic Steering. Thought that's probably got some mechanical-through to avoid blowing a fuse and killing somebody.
     
  8. macrumors 65816

    strider42

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    #8
    its just an electronic motor, rather than a hydraulic setup, for adding the power assist, rather than the usual hydraulic kind. the same feature is on the dodge viper (maybe some others too, can't remember any more of the top of my head). its still a rack and pinion gearbox with a steering column physically connected to it and the steering wheel as best as I can tell. this is different than steer by wire, which would indicate that the steering wheel is not actually physically connected to the gearbox by mechanical linkages (see the GM hywire concept car: http://www.cardesignnews.com/autoshows/2002/paris/preview/gm-hywire/). True steer by wire and brake by wire I am pretty sure are illegal for production, street legal cars.

    You scared me a bit there. My job involves researching cars and I thought there was something out there I wasn't aware of that would really affect my company's coverage of that vehicle. the setup you described is certainly uncommon right now and just making it to the market. Bet it will be all over in a few years. Car makers are starting to pay more attention to steering. Witness BMW's optional active steering on the 5-series. It uses a plantary gear set to change the steering ratio depending on situation. Ist still a hydraulic system though.
     
  9. macrumors 68040

    patrick0brien

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2002
    Location:
    The West Loop
    #9
    -strider42

    Beeleeeve me, I am witnessing the Active Steering on the 5. I'm aiming the 530 to be my next car - with the active steering.
     
  10. macrumors 65816

    strider42

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    #10
    have you test driven one. I'd be interseted to know your thoughts about the system. From what i've read, its a complicated system, but one that should be fairly unobstrusive to the driver. Its got some good features, but in some ways seems to be a way to "idiot proof" the car in a way enthusiast don't like (like stability control, enthusiasts sometimes want to be able to slide around). I haven't had a chance to drive one yet. maybe next time the BMW ultimate drive comes to down and I can get there (they are doing one like next week at 3COM park in san francisco, but I can't go). Wish I could afford one, I love the new 5 series, even the looks which a lot of people have issues with.
     
  11. macrumors 68040

    patrick0brien

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2002
    Location:
    The West Loop
    #11
    -strider42

    Yes. I have. Cleanest dash of any car I've seen yet. Even better than the 7.

    The handling is stellar, and the adaptive cruise is indispensable (I initially had trouble justifying the cost).

    The decision on the car is made, It will be mine. The question is which dealer.

    I'll probably put the money down next year some time - have a condo to buy first :D
     
  12. macrumors 65816

    strider42

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    #12
    thats sweet, enjoy the car when you get it. I'm a BMW fan on a honda budget, haha.
     
  13. macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    #13
    Re: update

    Superhuman strength? Not actually.

    Maybe compared to servo-assisted brake systems it's superhuman, but you have to remember that all cars used to be that way just a few decades ago. It's not really that much effort, just a lot more than we're used to.
     
  14. macrumors G3

    iMeowbot

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    #14
    Yeah, that's basically the deal. The "power" in virtually all power brakes isn't really electrical but a vacuum assist provided mechanically by the engine. It you see wires, they're most likely for a low fluid indicator.

    Power steering relies on a hydraulic pump that again depends on a running engine.
     
  15. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location:
    Historic Norcross
    #15
    Hmmmm, for some reason I seem to remember a Car and Driver review of a high end Merc (CL600 maybe?) complaining about the unnatural feel of the "brake by wire" brakes that had no mechanical linkage to the pedal. Sorry I'm too lazy to try to dig up the article now, but on the Mercedes website, it looks like the "S" and "CL" classes have "Dual circuit power assisted 4 wheel discs" while all other classes have "Electrohydraulic power assisted four wheel discs." Wonder if this is what I remember C&D complaining about. . .

    OK I felt bad for being lazy so I did a quick search of C&D's website for CL600, S600, and SL600 and found the following in the May '03 review of the 2004 SL600:
    "We're not sure what fading electrohydraulic brakes would feel like—all pedal feel is computer-generated"
    Maybe that's what I was thinking of, but I seem to remember it being more descriptive. . .
     
  16. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location:
    Historic Norcross
    #16
    Rock on patrick0brien! My fingers are eagerly crossed for a 545iT (T = touring = wagon, although you as a fellow bimmerphile already know, I'm sure ;) ) to replace our 325iT in a few years. If not there's always the Audi S6 Avant - I'm willing to "switch" to Audi if I have to. . . :)
     
  17. macrumors G3

    Counterfit

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2003
    Location:
    sitting on your shoulder
    #17
    This (used to anyway) happen on our 93 Caravan. Not on the highway mind you, but usually when headed up a hill, and/or when coming to a stop. Thankfully, it only seemed to happen in three places: The stop sign on our street, the small hill to get to our street, and the right turn going into my former school's parking lot (uphill of course). My father was under the impression that it was an oil pressure problem, but it hasn't happened to my knowledge for a little while, even though it leaks like a sieve now. Anyone know where to get a 3.0L V6 to fit? :D (Weren't those manufactured by Mitsubishi?)



    edit: Strider: did you happen to see a feature in Road & Track a few years ago on the steering on the M3? They looked into why it steered so damn well, and came up with these: 1.) letting some engine vibration into the steering column to reduce "stiction" and 2.) The bushings are harder that normal. There might be more things, but it's been quite a while since I've read that issue.
     
  18. macrumors 68040

    patrick0brien

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2002
    Location:
    The West Loop
    #18
    -strider42

    I understand that. I can only get the car if I can stay busy this year.

    'Course, if I succeed, I'll post it to the "Car" thread. :D

    Fingers crossed - for another year.
     
  19. macrumors 65816

    strider42

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    #19
    Re: update

    FYI, brakes are designed so that even with the power off, you should be able to push the brakes solidly at least once. It gets harder and harder because the hydraulic pressure isn't being recharged. If he says thats normal, he's full of it. try it on any car. Run the engine for a while, turn off the car, then pump the brakes. they'll work. keep doing it and it will get harder and harder. If it is impossible right from the minute the engine goes out, its seriously jacked up and the hydraulic pressure isn't being retained or something. This is all pretty much required by law as is my understanding.

    its sad you have to pressure people sometimes into doing the right thing, but that dealer was seriously setting themselves up for a major lawsuit.
     
  20. macrumors 65816

    strider42

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    #20
    Didn't see that feature, but it makes sense. One thing BMW has always gotten is that you need to feel the road through the steering column, and they don't go for cushy rides, particularly on the M cars. Those are about performance and comfort be damned.

    I'd have to look it up at work tomorrow. I still think there are mechnical linkages, but that there's a lot of electronic stuff in there too, similar to the electric steering box we were talking about earlier. I've heard similar complaints before about soft pedal feel. I dunno, its possible the laws have changed, but it seems weird that it wouldn't be more widespread among brands that really go after the new technology, like jaguar and cadillac. Could be though. If I get time, I'll look into it tomorrow at work.
     
  21. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    Ontario-> Louisiana-> Colorado-> Ontario
    #21
    Loosing you brakes isn't a life or death situation. Emergency brakes use cables, if the engine fails your ok. The only problem is most people panic or they don't know you can use your emergency brake during an emergency. Most people think it's only for parking.

    Of corse a lot people with automatics just put it in park and don't even know what an emergency brake is.
     
  22. macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2002
    #22
    One thing that took abit of getting used to when I hired a car in the states was that it didn't have a 'handbrake', it had a 'foot' brake.... although Mercedes used to use a similar system I think a several years ago, it took abit of getting used to though I can tell ya!

    The only problem with using a 'handbrake' or emergency brake is that they're usually (well over here at least) only attached to the rear wheels, so if you need to brake on an off camber corner, then you'll likely loose the rear if you're not an experienced (read advanced) driver, but if my brakes failed I'd be think about giving it a yank if I need to stop pronto!

    If lady luck be in your passenger seat, then you'll likely be in manual car, you can change down and bring the car to a relatively swift and safe stop that way or atleast wipe some speed off before an impact.
     
  23. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    Ontario-> Louisiana-> Colorado-> Ontario
    #23
    It is possible to slow down with an emergency brake and not lock the tires, although not really easy at speed I imagine. I have a manual with a 'handbrake' which I would guess is what you want when you loose your brakes. You could downshift in an automatic too but it probably wouldn't kill your speed very effectivly.
     
  24. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2003
    Location:
    NJ, USA
    #24
    my brother says he found the brake-pedals almost impossible to move as soon as the engine shut down, so looks like one more probllem with that car.

    and yes, he also said that in his panic, he did not even think of the emergency (hand) brake. so maybe next time he will. (but hopefully there is no such 'next' time)
    a possible chance of skidding is better than a sure chance of getting into a head-on collision!
     
  25. macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2002
    #25
    I think it would be difficult to pull off in a mid bend, high'ish speed situation when you're wondering whether you're going to end up embedded in an oncoming truck or not... heheh.

    I think alot of peoples attitudes would be to yank the handbrake, where as you'd obviously be better off pulling it up one-click at a time, I guess every situation would be different and not something you can really practice, but with a combo of the gears and handbrake (and a very busy few seconds) you'd be able to stop very, very quickly without totally shafting the car!

    With regards to an Auto, if you loose electrical power, or the engine cut out don't they stop working?? that'd be abit of a nightmare going downhill... :eek: :p :p
     

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