This Verona was my first new car, purchased in October of 2004 with 50 miles on it. I liked the styling and the features, and after my dad had a positive experience with a Suzuki Sidekick in the mid-90s, I thought it would be reliable. I liked the Honda Accord, but the Suzuki cost the same and had heated leather seats, a sunroof, automatic climate control and many other niceties the Honda didn't have. It seemed like a good deal on a nice car.
The problems began almost immediately, and continued until the car's violent death in December of 2011 with 80,325 miles on the clock.
1200 miles: This car had a coil-on-plug ignition system. Looks good on paper, but they fail frequently, causing a check engine light, misfiring, rough running and stalling. I had the faulty coil replaced at the dealer. This happened so often I learned how to replace the coils myself, and kept at least 2 in the car at all times. I had to replace a coil at least 30 times during my ownership.
14400 miles: ABS light came on. Dealer replaced ABS computer.
21000 miles: Car badly out of alignment. Replaced tires.
22000 miles: New tires showing uneven wear. Aligned again. Tie rod ends replaced.
24000 miles: Car fails state safety inspection. Ball joints and steering knuckles replaced.
31000 miles: Radio stopped working. Added aftermarket radio.
36000 miles: Rough running, check engine light, feels down on power. Pulled codes; plugged catalytic converter. Replaced catalytic converter.
40000 miles: Heated seats stopped working. Never fixed.
47000 miles: Power seats stopped working. Ordered new parts from the dealer.
51000 miles: Clock stopped working. Never fixed.
52000 miles: Car shaking at highway speeds. Ball joints and tie rods replaced.
55000 miles: Blown head gasket. 2 weeks at the dealer.
61000 miles: Key won't come out of the ignition. I jiggle the key while holding the shifter into park, and the key will eventually come out. The shifter would only go about halfway into park, and it was difficult to get it to lock into park.
67512 miles: The shifter was becoming increasingly difficult to move into park, and one day I thought it was in park, but really it was still in reverse. The car rolled away and hit a parked car.
67512 miles: Shift linkage and shifter console replaced. Collision damage repaired.
73000 miles: Automatic climate control is no longer automatic. Must set it to full hot, otherwise the heater blows cold. Never fixed.
77750 miles: ABS light comes on. ABS computer re-flashed.
80150 miles: Another blown head gasket.
80325 miles: While merging onto the highway, the car accelerated to about 40 and began bucking and running rough. I floored it, but the car wouldn't go any faster. It slowed to about 20 and I moved to the shoulder, where the car died. I figured it's time for my monthly coil replacement, so I restart the car to diagnose which coil it is. The car was running rougher than ever before and the check engine light was flashing. I poke around under the hood and all of the coils are working. However, smoke was coming from the oil fill cap. I removed the cap and was bathed in hot oil. White smoke and oil were flying everywhere. I closed the cap and got back into the car and saw that the oil light is on. Not wanting to drive it in this condition, I shut it off and called for a tow (when you own a Suzuki Verona, you have a towing company on speed dial). I had it towed to my mechanic and meet him the next morning. He starts the car up, and before it even finishes cranking, a connecting rod shot out the front of the engine block.
Catastrophic engine failure. He looked at me as I looked at all the oil and smoke drain from the hole in the engine. The nightmare was finally over. A look inside the inside the engine revealed that it had been run without oil. But if it had no oil, why did so much come out? Why hadn't the oil light come on sooner? I trust my mechanic and he does good work, but it's possible he messed up when doing the head gasket less than 200 miles earlier. Or maybe it was a faulty part. Or maybe something totally different went wrong. Whatever the case, my Verona was finally dead.
You may be asking, as I asked myself many times, why did you keep it for so long? There are a few reasons. When I first bought the car, I was young and had limited credit history, so my loan was for 6 years with a high interest rate. These cars have terrible resale value, so if I was to trade it in, I would need either a large down payment or I would have to roll over the balance into the new car loan, resulting in even higher payments and paying for a car I no longer had.
Believe it or not, I actually liked this car. No matter what was wrong with it, the seats were always comfortable, it always rode well and it always drove smoothly. This isn't a very popular car (for good reason), and people would always ask what it was and say how sharp it looked. Even as it sat leaking the last of its oil in front of my mechanic's garage, another customer complimented its styling.
This was a learning experience and a valuable lesson. I can only be grateful that it was paid off when it finally died, and that no one was hurt during the many times it stalled in the middle of the road, and that no one was standing nearby when it wouldn't go into park. When you're young and naive, and in a new car dealer, go with your gut and buy a Honda Accord.