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When does one notice a vehicle's four wheel drive is inoperative? When it is needed, of course!

This article is really about the incredible service I have had from Talarico Dealerships in Milford, New Hampshire.

My best experiences with a vehicle and the establishment from which I purchased it has been with Talarico.

-Charles Oropallo
CEO, CharlesWorks


How I ended up at Talarico
by Charles Oropallo, Monday January 27, 2004

A little history is worth mentioning. My wife, Susan, and I had been solid Corolla fans. That came about mostly as a result of her purchase of her first new car: a 1992 Corolla. In early 2001, with over 220,000 miles on it,  we decided to replace that car with a new one.

At that time, I was driving a 1990 GMC Sierra that I had purchased used in Peterborough. I believe it was the first time I ever owned a GMC product. I had been a Chrysler product enthusiast since my first Plymouths in the early seventies.

When Susan and I talked about trading in the old Corolla, a Nashua, NH Toyota dealership was willing to give us such a small trade-in allowance that we decided we would just keep it as a third vehicle. It ran just fine. So, Susan got a new 2001 Corolla.

A number of months after owning the Corolla, I felt I had been severely overcharged for a service appointment at the Toyota dealership. They did maintenance work I did not ask them to do. As a result, I vowed at that time to never go back there.

In 2002, I decided to replace my 1990 GMC Sierra pickup truck. I had originally intended to purchase a Toyota pickup. However, after losing trust in the Toyota dealership, I looked elsewhere. I had seen several pickups I liked at Talarico Dealerships in Milford, NH.

I had occasionally visited Talarico to buy parts for my GMC Sierra. I had also driven through their lot a couple times and checked out some of the sticker prices and so forth on new pickups. One day, I stopped and went into the showroom to look around. That was when I met one of their Sales & Leasing Consultants, Paul McDonnell.

Paul was low key and not pushy. I drove three Chevy pickups for test rides that morning. I took two of them them over to where Susan worked and showed them to her. She liked the Chevy S10 with four wheel drive the most (because it was smaller and she felt she could park it easier). I went with that one.

Part of the justification for spending a little more on four wheel drive was that unlike me (with my office right in Peterborough where we live), Susan's commute to work involves going over Temple Mountain each day to Nashua, NH. It can be a treacherous trip after a fresh snowfall. Susan would use the Chevy pickup on those days.

Neither of us had ever had a four wheel drive vehicle before, and it was summertime when we purchased it.

Another plus toward purchasing at Talarico was that we were offered more for the 1992 Corolla than at the Toyota dealer, so I traded in both the older vehicles on the new Chevy S10.

Saving money right off

The first thing I did while the purchase was going through was to make arrangements for two things to be done to my new pickup.

I wanted the Rhino bed liner sprayed into it, and a rollup bed cover installed on it. The damage to the bed I noticed on my old pickup was what I  wanted to avoid with the new one. This pickup was for more use as simply transportation for me and only occasionally to be used as a pickup truck. I found a place that did this sort of thing to pickups and had made an appointment with them.

When at the dealership finalizing some paperwork was when I happened to mention in passing to Tony Dillberg, Business Manager, that I was getting this done. Tony indicated that he knew some local places that did this and got on the phone and priced it out right then for me. He saved me several hundred dollars and I got exactly the high quality liner and cover that I wanted!

Discovering no four wheel drive

It was a cold, snowy Saturday morning in Peterborough, New Hampshire. We were supposed to get quite a snowstorm.

I figured it would be a good idea to get over to the post office and check the CharlesWorks mail. The expected snow was well on its way, so I put my Chevy S10 into four wheel drive and headed down to the Peterborough Post Office, only about a mile and a half away.

After getting my mail, when back in my Chevy and attempting to start back home, the inconceivable happens: I was stuck! "How can this be?" I asked myself. (Okay, maybe I didn't ask myself quite so nicely.) With four wheel drive I shouldn't get stuck in only six inches of snow!

With the driver side door open, I shifted between reverse and drive and tried to see if all the wheels were actually turning. I couldn't tell for certain from inside the pickup, so when I did finally rock my way out off the parking space, I drove over to Talarico Dealerships, on Elm Street in nearby Milford, NH to see if they could take a look at it.

The ride to Milford was a bit nastier than I expected it would be. It was snowing hard on the mountain and I was very sure by then that the four wheel drive was not working properly. I arrived at Talarico and drove to the service entrance side of the building. "A wasted trip," I said to myself, discovering the locked door.

I drove around to the showroom entrance and looked for Paul McDonnell. I saw Tony Dillberg first and explained that I felt pretty dumb not knowing for sure if my four wheel drive was working or not and that I didn't think it was. We went outside and he tried it in the parking lot. He definitely could not get all the wheels to turn.

Then Tony really surprised me. He opened the service area and brought my pickup in to take a look at it! He explained he had previously been a technician and decided to troubleshoot this. He even contacted their lead technician, Brian Rioux, at home for some needed details and began working on my pickup.

Ultimately, Brian came in from home when the problem eluded Tony. It turned out that a vacuum hose that actuates a solenoid necessary for the four wheel drive had a hole burned in it. (While Brian was on his way Tony joked about how Brian would probably find the problem in twenty seconds and he was right!) Apparently the hose had become unsecured and rested against the exhaust manifold. After fixing the hose, my four wheel drive worked once again.

Noticing the symptoms


Interestingly enough, there were three clues that I was aware of during the previous summer that could have been alerts to this problem, had I known the four wheel drive was not working at the time.
1) Early in the summer I recall occasionally smelling what I thought to be rubber burning, the way sometimes a loose fan belt would smell. Visual inspections under the hood did not reveal anything apparent to me.
2) When driving up hills where I had to step further on the gas pedal for a protracted period of time, my heating and air conditioning vents seemed to change speed and/or intensity. Sometimes air flow would happen with the heating/air conditioning turned off.  The technician explained this would occur because the vacuum also controls the heating and air conditioning vent controls.
3) When trying to turn around in a parking lot several months earlier I tried to carefully drive over a six inch curb. The pickup got stuck on it with one front wheel ahead of the curb and one behind it. When I gave the vehicle a little more gas I heard a back tire screech (while the vehicle was in four wheel drive - or so I thought), as though only one wheel was doing all the work. I didn't know then that in fact only one wheel WAS doing all the work!

My recommendation

As you can probably surmise, I highly recommend Paul McDonnell or Tony Dillberg at the Talarico Dealership located at 419 Elm Street, Milford, NH 03055 if you are interested in getting the straight scoop on a new or used vehicle. Since the time of this writing, Talarico has long since moved from Milford, NH.

How many car dealerships do you know have staff willing to open up their closed service department just to help someone out?

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