A short story on my viper experiences.

Discussion in 'Vendor Review: Tomball Dodge' started by wing, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. wing

    wing Viper Owner

    Oct 25, 2008
    My first Viper was a venom red 2008 SRT 10 that was enhanced with Belanger headers and cats, Corsa exhaust, 3.55 gears, MGW shifter, MGW shift knob and a Mopar PCM. I greatly enjoyed this exciting vehicle for two and one-half years and couldn’t imagine being happier or more satisfied with a car. Or could I?

    While cruising the internet early this summer I came across a white 2009 ACR on Viper Exchange that was available at Tomball Dodge in Houston, Texas. I contacted Bernie Katz Tomball’s Viper specialist, and our car talk soon led to discussion of my acquisition of the ACR with a trade-in of my SRT. I also learned that it was possible to transfer all of the after market parts from the SRT to the ACR with the exception of the PCM (which is car-specific). The trade-in agreement required me to ship the SRT to Houston. The Tomball team would then transfer the parts from the SRT to the ACR and install the new PCM. I would fly in, pick the car up, and drive home. Easy enough.

    Unexpected Speed Bumps
    Once the deal was set a shipper, Gran Turismo Motorsports, was chosen. Initially they quoted approximately two weeks until pick-up, but called me back 2 days later and informed me that they had a truck available and could they possibly to pick it up tomorrow morning at 7:00am. I anxiously contacted Tomball Dodge to let them know to expect the car two weeks early. Almost immediately Bernie asked me if there was “something I forgot to tell him.” Confused, I answered, “Nothing that I am aware of…why?” It turned out that he had run a CARFAX on my SRT and it reported back as damaged. I was stunned! After all I had purchase the SRT brand new off of the showroom floor and had never experienced any damage during my ownership. Bernie went on to say that he would need to renegotiate the deal if the CARFAX was indeed correct. I told him I had no idea what created this damage report and that I would contact CARFAX immediately and take the necessary steps to correct and clear the report. I also let Bernie know that I was still sending the SRT the next morning to keep the acquisition process moving along.

    In a state of panic I frantically searched the internet for a CARFAX telephone number. My panic mingled with frustration when I discovered that they only publish an email address. I needed a live voice from a live person to talk with me and fix this situation yesterday, if not sooner! Without any other avenue of communication I sent CARFAX an email regarding this predicament and then lamented on how long it would take for my message to be returned. To my surprise and relief CARFAX returned my message within 24 hours and included instructions on how to file a “consumer data correction.” I sent the necessary information with a request to find out who reported my car as damaged. I had to know.

    The Trigger Point
    Last year my house was broken into while I was vacationing. When you come home and find the door open in the middle of winter, the first thing you do is call 911 and then the second call is to your insurance agent. Ironically it was the call to the insurance company that triggered the damage report on the CARFAX. I have since learned that CARFAX receives some of their information from third parties. These third parties apparently do NOT differentiate between a “case number” and a “claim number.” When I contacted my insurance agent to report the break-in they immediately opened a “case number” just in case an actual claim was filed. In fact they opened a couple of case numbers; one for the house and one for the vehicles. True to what I was told, the third party’s software did not differentiate between a “case number” and a “claim number.”

    At this point I was steaming when I called my insurance company to ask them just what are they reporting and to whom. I reminded them that I had not filed a claim for any damage to the house or vehicles and let them know that I just might have to file a claim against them if the car deal went south because of bad data. The insurance company verified that no claims were filed and sent me supporting information. I forwarded this information to CARFAX by mail and waited. It was reassuring when CARFAX kept in close communication with me during the entire process. Within two weeks CARFAX sent me a message that the information was corrected along with an attachment containing an updated CARFAX report on my car showing no damage. I called Bernie and let him know the good news.

    The Road Trip Begins
    I flew to Houston and Bernie had someone pick me at the airport as he was out of town making his racing debut. The driver was on time and the people at the dealership were great. They even gave me change for the toll road. I checked the car out and headed north towards Dallas. My brother who lives on the north side of Dallas drives up every year in his 2006 Z06 to attend the vintage races at Road America. I had timed the flight so I could pick the car up Friday, drive to my brother’s home in Denton, Texas, get a number of coats of wax on the car and the windows tinted, then head north. We figured we would sleep in Sunday, take off and stop some where around Kansas City then cruise into Minnesota on Monday. We headed north at 0800 on Sunday morning and the weather and roads were ideal. I was averaging 20 MPG and my brother 31 MPG so this meant I needed to refuel about every 200 to 230 miles for fuel (I like to have a reserve just in case).

    We were making pretty good time and most people moved out the way when they looked in their rear view mirrors. The only place we encountered a sustained “radar blanket” was in Missouri. As soon as we crossed the border we were shot from a radar set up on an overpass behind us so we made sure we were driving like Grandma. We must have been shot seven more times before reaching Iowa. Both the car and the weather performed perfectly and the next I knew I was sitting outside my house enjoying a beer at around 2230, exactly 14.4 hours after leaving Dallas which included 4 gas stops and a lunch break. It was an enjoyable and successful road trip.

    A Bit About Parts
    When I decided to trade I thought about the changes I had made to the SRT and what I would do different with the ACR. I knew the ACR would give me better brakes, tires, suspension, lighter wheels and more down force so I decided to make the same after market enhancements.

    The part transfer from the SRT to the ACR went seamlessly. With my SRT in 10,000 miles I had no troubles, issues, or code problems and, so far, none with the ACR at 3000 miles. In fact, this time around, I feel that the shifter is even better. I will say the Michelin sport cup tires for everyday driving are very busy compared to the Michelin Pilot sports. I bought a set of polished SRT rims and Pilot sports from JonB for everyday driving. I know people have discussed the pros and cons of driving an ACR everyday my take on it is I am willing to put up with a slight change in ride comfort for the positives gained. I have also changed the transmission mount and I feel that this one modification affected the overall ride experience the most by far. There is more vibration in the car; not unpleasant, just more. Can not say if it has helped any one area of performance. I have tracked the car at the same track as the other car and the ACR was 6 seconds faster on 2.15 mile track right out of the box. I feel with me driving there is 2 to 3 seconds more. Others are even 4 to 5 seconds faster then me.

    JonB at Parts Rack
    I the midst of the earlier car drama I contacted JonB to ask about a few items. He was extremely helpful and steered me in the right direction, even if it meant I was going to purchase something elsewhere. His attention to detail, prompt shipping, parts quality, and price was exceptional. I can not remember having a more positive experience working with a car parts dealer (and I have bought more than a few parts in my life).

    At the end of the day I can reflect on the ACR acquisition as a very positive experience and I am grateful for the good folks I met along the journey. I got by with a little help from some old friends, and a few great new ones.

    PS. My plan B was the black and silver Viper ACR which might have been the one at the Ring. I just fell in love with the white ACR.
  2. 01sapphirebob

    01sapphirebob Enthusiast

    Apr 21, 2008
    What a story. Glad everything worked out for you in the end. :)
  3. jdeft1

    jdeft1 Viper Owner

    Jul 9, 2008
    Glad I read the whole thing and that your break-in didn't affect you cars!! I wonder what was taken?
    Everyone likes a happy ending...


  4. JonB

    JonB Viper Owner

    Dec 8, 1997
    Columbia River Gorge
    WING ! The deal and deed is done and home, congrats. I, too, bought my 2009 ACR from Bernie/Tomball, and their service exceeded my expectations on that delivered / traded experience. Please confirm: Brother's 06 Z06 got 31 mpg? Typo? WOW!

    Your CarFax story was one of the WEIRDEST twists I have ever heard, and serves as yet another word-2-da-wise about C-fax. Glad I could help a bit at the beginning of the saga.

    THANK YOU for the kind words as well..... JonB~~~:<~


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