When folks buy a car, most hope that’s the last they’ll see of the dealership. But in the luxury-car arena, many brands have created Taj Majal showrooms that, before the global health crisis, served as well-heeled hangouts—complete with espresso bars, putting greens, and other glitzy touches. If you needed an oil change, it was a far more plush place to chill than at Jiffy Lube with a stack of old magazines and the hoi polloi.
But Genesis is going a slightly different route—partly as a futuristic endeavor, and partly out of necessity. You see, Genesis is an offshoot of Hyundai Motor, and Hyundai dealers wanted to get Genesis franchises, as well, just like Toyota dealers did with Lexus. Problem is, Hyundai dealers rank below the industry average among mainstream brands in the JD Power Customer Satisfaction Index. Plus, Hyundai dealers were resistant to spending millions of dollars on a shiny retailing palace for an uncertain return. Add in numerous states’ arcane and often conflicting franchising laws regarding new dealerships, and it’s not the greatest starting point for a new brand.
Amidst this standoff, Genesis still had cars to sell, and it didn’t want its quizzical customers to go to a Hyundai store. So it created a concierge service that would deliver cars to your door for a test drive and do the paperwork online. If service was needed, the concierge would deliver a loaner car and whisk away your car until it was ready. That the operation was based out of Hyundai dealers didn’t matter; the customer never saw how the sausage was made.
Until current social distancing rules set in, that is. And that was how I discovered how my long-term Genesis G70 got worked on.
Early on, when the G70 had some transmission and turbocharger woes, the local Genesis dealer responded promptly, delivered a top-trim Genesis replacement loaner, and took care of the issues (though leaving a reminder in the form of oil-stained seats).
But then quarantine and social distancing measures went into place. In an abundance of caution, our local Genesis dealer pulled the plug on the concierge. That meant I would be going into a rather bedraggled Hyundai store to get service done.
When photographer Brandon Lim came back from a photo shoot reporting some rear-end vibration in the G70, he looked at the rear tires and noticed some premature rear in the right-rear Michelin. He didn’t remember hitting a pothole and swore he wasn’t doing donuts in the parking lot. Still, the wear looked pretty harsh. And it was just the one tire, with a shade more than 12,000 miles on the clock.
I called the Genesis, ahem, Hyundai dealer and made a service appointment to get a second opinion on the tires and also have an alignment check—because, hey, free maintenance for three years on all Genesis products, plus this could be a warranty issue.
Turns out the Hyundai dealer has a service deal with a neighboring dealership; the Genesis got shipped over to the nearby Mazda dealer for its alignment check. The Mazda dealer gave the alignment a slight true, and gave it the all clear. But I took another look at the tire, and it looked pretty bad. Down-to-the-threads bad.
I asked the service writer, “You know I work for MotorTrend, right? We drive cars hard. We don’t just commute down Hawthorne Boulevard at 35 mph.” His response: “Oh yeah, the mechanic said the tires are fine.” (So said the first service adviser ever who passed up a chance to sell a new set of tires at outrageous dealer-markup prices.)
But with another MotorTrend staffer ready to put some big miles on the G70 with a run to Mendocino, CA, I didn’t want to take any chances. And although we’re pretty good at analyzing tires, I wanted to confirm my caution. I sent some photos to Jen Stockburger at Consumer Reports, who in a previous life led tire evaluation for Pirelli Armstrong. She saw the bad tire, called it out for “chunking,” and advised immediate replacement.
Fortunately, our friends at Continental sprung for us to have a new set of ExtremeContact Sports, and the folks at Tire Rack got them to us in no time flat. ZipTire switched out the rubber, and we were back in business.
Still, I was disturbed that the Genesis/Hyundai/Mazda dealers missed this one. And it made me wonder if, when Genesis finally opens a proper showroom in L.A.’s South Bay, they’ll hire mechanics with sharper diagnostic skills.
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Date: 03.12.20 Views: 134