BraunAbility

BraunAbility

Reviews: 1

1 RATING
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Total views: 2156

Published: 21 January 2021

Posted by: Anonymous

We bought our Braunability Odyssey van in 2010 brand new. The demo model worked perfectly except that it made a terrible exhaust sound at certain RPMs. We asked if we could purchase a different van. | When we took delivery of our new van, on the drive home it made ugly groaning noises in turns. The Braunability dealer told us it was dry bushings and they would “work in.” Another visit two weeks later and they told us it had to be something Honda-related because Braunability “didn’t touch the suspension” in modifying the van. Meanwhile, the airbag light had started showing up at random intervals. Brought the van to Honda for both issues; they took me under the lift and showed me where the Braun-manufactured subframe parts had not been properly deburred (on both sides of front suspension!) and were rubbing the chassis. Brought photos to the Braun dealer, they fixed it. | We had also had noted airbag problem to Honda dealer; they said Braun’s mods were to blame. Braun insisted again that it was Honda. When the airbag light was lit continuously, brought van back to Braun dealer. They told us we shouldn’t disconnect the seat connectors (necessary to position a wheelchair in either front seat position) because this causes the problem. Light went out for a while, but came on again. Brought it back to them; they found/fixed a problem in the driver’s seat harness (a Braunability part). | By this time the ramp had malfunctioned several times at random intervals. Brought van back to dealer; he couldn’t replicate the problem. Brought back a second time, dealer replaced the “remote module.” Problem went away briefly, but returned sporadically, seemingly especially in rainy weather. My son would get soaked while I tried to lower the ramp manually (the manual lowering never worked quite properly during the 7 years we had the van), and I would often give up and manually deadlift him (115 lbs) in his chair (46 lbs) thru the driver’s side door. | All of this happened in the first 4 months of van ownership. In the first year the ramp drivetrain had to be replaced, fortunately under warranty, but the sporadic non-deployment problems continued to a greater or lesser degree for our entire ownership of the van, despite our repeated complaints/visits. | Going into the second year while we were driving the van, the kneeling mechanism suddenly started up and began making a grinding/popping noise that we couldn’t stop without pulling the fuse to the system. Dealership fixed it and showed us how the manual kneel worked–we never understood how this was supposed to fix the problem we’d had. By this time it was seeming that the dealer thought every problem was a failure of ours, somehow. | During year 3 we asked the dealer about a loud rattling noise from the front McPherson struts when temps were below freezing. It took several visits to replicate the problem, and finally it was the Honda dealer who discovered what it was (because the Braun dealer told us that Braunability “never touched the suspension” when they modified the van). | The van was just outside of the Honda warranty, but well inside the the Braunability extended warranty designed to cover us for a full three years to make up for the Honda warranty clock having started when Braun bought the van from Honda to modify it. But Braun’s warranty extension company failed to honor their “bumper to bumper” warranty extension, and we were told we’d have to pay for the parts because they were (you guessed it) Braunabiliity modified parts. | Braun refused to pay anything. Finally the Honda dealer called the Braun dealer and came to an agreement whereby Honda would pay 1/3 (for Braun parts!!), we would pay 1/3 and Braunability would pay 1/3 for the new Braunability parts. | Within a year, the new struts were exhibiting the same problem. At that point Braunability told us the problem “wasn’t safety related” and that we should ignore it. | In year 4, the side door jammed open during the Christmas season. I took the entire day off, drove the van 15 miles to the dealership with the door wide open (in below zero temps, natch), and settled in for a long wait while they fixed it. In less than 10 minutes the salesperson came out and said they’d fixed it but the automatic feature wouldn’t work any more and I needed to go to Dodge and order a “door operator mechanism.” He said the part should be less than $200. This was curious advice given as we had a Honda chassis, so I talked to the technician. The tech said the same thing, only I could get the part from Honda. | Looking at the door it appeared the door open/close cable had been cut with wire cutters. The tech initially claimed he first saw it that way but later admitted he had cut it. I took the van to Honda, which informed me that I would have to replace the entire door retraction mechanism due to the cable break as the cable was not replaceable. | They noted that the cable “never” broke in their experience and that it had been cut, as the Braun tech later admitted. They also noted that disconnecting/reconnecting the computer controlling the door mechanism would have reset the system and allowed the door to close without requiring any parts. The new mechanism from Honda should have been around $1,300 plus service, but because the mechanism was a special Braun part, it would cost $1,700 plus service to install it. | Even though we were out of warranty by this time, the Braun tech convinced Braun that it was a quality issue and got new parts via warranty extension, which he then installed himself after work hours. He left so many greasy fingerprints on the inside of the van that it took me 45 minutes to clean up after him, and one of the inside sidewall panels never fit properly again after the repair. | By this time we’d had the motor or drivetrain replaced in the ramp at least 2 times at our own expense and once at Braun’s. By the end of our ownership, the van had cost us between $1000 and $2000 every single year (except the last year, when we paid $2400) just to keep the wheelchair mechanisms running and had required a major service of some sort every single year. | This doesn’t include the assorted other Braun chassis parts that failed. When we would take the van in for its 6-month “maintenance” often it would come back working more poorly than it did before the maintenance. The last year we owned the vehicle we lowered and raised the ramp manually because the dealership’s $1000+ repair that year didn’t fix the problem and we saw no need to throw good money after bad. | Corrosion caused the scary safety issue that was the final straw for us. Starting in year 2, the Braunability valance panel on the rear of the van that hides the relocated fuel tank, etc, had started corroding despite our regular washes with underbody flush all winter. By year 3 I was noticing heavy corrosion on fittings under and INSIDE the van (lower door tracks). We pointed this out to the new dealer (we no longer trusted the one who had cut our door cable). Our concerns were rebuffed; the dealer said it was normal wear and tear. | By year 4 we were seeing sections of the undercoating on the Braun-lowered floor section flaking off, exposing rusty metal underneath. One of these sections, clearly visible thru the front wheel well, measured about 3″ square. At this time we also noticed rust and salt wicking their way into the cabin via the screw holes for the wheelchair tiedown tracks in the floor. | We also noticed that the sockets that accepted the front passenger seat attachments were beginning to accumulate water for no reason we could determine. There was no water in the vehicle, in the carpeting, etc, yet these well-shaped fittings had water in them every time we moved the passenger seat to clean or give a wheelchair-bound friend a ride. We dried them out, but the water would return. | By year six, the side door was occasionally refusing to retract or stopping partly thru retraction on a consistent basis; two visits to the dealership didn’t fix the problem. We began trying to work with Braunability directly, but they continually referred us back to our dealership, who didn’t seem to know how to fix the issues we were having–issues that we felt shouldn’t be happening on a 6-year-old vehicle. | Midway thru year 7, we took the van on vacation to Kentucky, 500+ miles away, leaving our disabled son at home (thankfully!). In the driveway of the relative’s home where we were staying the side door FELL COMPLETELY OFF the van. We discovered the track support had rusted thru the chassis and allowed the door to come off of its three tracks. We forced the door back into place on a section of intact track and instructed our 8-year-old daughter to sit on the other side of the vehicle and not go near the door under any circumstances as we drove all the way back home. | We contacted both the dealer and Braunability (the famous “Terri of Global Customer Service,” as unhelpful a person as ever there was) and were told that the door falling off is “normal wear and tear for a Braunability vehicle at this age.” At this point our van wasn’t even 7 years old, and we had put on less than 10,000 miles per year. The van had been well-maintained and kept clean as we do all of our vehicles. The price tag for fixing the door tracks (on both sides; the other one was very nearly rusted thru also) was $2,400, and Braunability refused to pay for any of the repair. | (For comparison, when we sold our 2000 Honda Odyssey van in 2013 it was 14 years old with 167,000 miles and the door track areas were pristine without a spot of rust, but our 3-year-old, 2010 Odyssey’s track supports were already quite rusty and flakes of paint and rust were accumulating in the floor of the track space.) | We paid for the repair and then, no longer trusting the van as safe transportation, asked the dealer to buy it from us. For this clean, well-maintained, low-mileage vehicle we had paid over $55,000 for less than 7 years before they gave us $16,000 in a no-negotiation deal. It cost us more than $50,000 in depreciation plus maintenance and repair costs paid to Braun for less than seven years of unreliable, aggravation-prone and ultimately unsafe transportation for our disabled son. | What I’ve related here doesn’t cover all the maintenance frustrations we had with this van; these are just the high points. By the end of our ownership we had come to truly detest this van and, even more so, the company that modified it and refused to support us. | Interestingly, the only Honda part that caused us any trouble during the ownership period was a leaky taillight, cheerfully replaced under warranty. So, the next week we bought a new 2017 Honda Pilot. We’re very fortunate that our son has developed the ability to transfer (with assistance) from his wheelchair into this new vehicle. We have had zero problems with the Pilot in the 18 months we’ve owned it. We thank God every time we get in the Pilot that we aren’t at the mercy of Braunability any longer. But if our son regresses and is unable to transfer again, we will NOT buy another Braunability product.

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