2015 Dodge Viper GT: It Deserves Better Service
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on November 13, 2015
At the core of the Viper persona is raw power. The car can be brutal and unforgiving, and it commands respect. It makes no excuses for its actions. And in all of its years, the addition of stability control was the closest it's come to an apology for what it is: Awesome.
Our 2015 Dodge Viper earned its place atop the Dodge performance lineup. True, Hellcats have blurred the leaderboard recently. But there should still be no contesting the recognition and attention that a 645-horsepower, $100,000 Viper deserves ahead of the high-volume likes of the Dart or Avenger.
So why is the Viper service experience so poor?
Or rather, why has our service experience with the Viper been so poor?
Maybe we have bad luck. After all, one advisor wanted his body shop to cut a hole in our Viper SRT-10 to reach a bracket that was accessible by simply removing one interior panel. More recently we encountered another tech trying to pop the rear hatch to access the engine.
Maybe other manufacturers just do it better. When we needed service for our long-term Audi R8 and Nissan GT-R it was like the world stopped. Cars parted. Porters opened our doors. Heads poked out from cubicles. It was a red carpet treatment by comparison.
Our most recent 12,000-mile Viper service had two parts.
Part one was a complete bust. We called a dealership 16 miles from our office for an appointment. The service writer gave an estimate of two days if we brought the car in the following morning. That was fine with us. But a surprise work obligation arose and we had to reschedule.
We called and asked to drop it off that afternoon instead. This was when he broke the news that the next available appointment wasn't for another two to three weeks. He offered no explanation aside from their Viper tech being booked until then. We took our business elsewhere.
Part two was a success, on paper at least. We called a second dealership 29 miles from our office, Glenn E. Thomas Dodge in Long Beach. It had a slot for us at 7:00 am the next morning. Perfect. We arrived 10 minutes early. On the phone we did not specify an advisor, so it took a few extra minutes to determine who would take our car. Once settled, our advisor promptly checked us in. No upsells or drama. She pointed us to the waiting area and gave an estimate of 60-90 minutes. It was 7:30.
At 9:30 the Viper was ready. It was 30 minutes longer than our quoted time but we were in no hurry. We then sat patiently while the cashier juggled running our invoice, covering for the dealership phone operator and snacking on fries. She was so polite we didn't mind. The total cost was $168.14 for inspections, an oil change and a left-to-right tire rotation.
Parts one and two of this adventure averaged out to a check in the box, overall. The work was completed. The quality of service at the second location was acceptable. The cost was perhaps the highlight when compared to our R8 and GT-R long-termers. Still, the experience left us wanting more.
Service is part of any ownership experience and for a Viper it should be different, even special. But in our experience, it is not. So far, that's the most disappointing part of owning a Viper.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager