Vehicle Reliability: An Automobile Has To Earn My Trust.

INEOS Grenadier ready for the Alcan 5000 Rally

When I get a new or new-to-me vehicle, it needs to earn my trust. I can’t hop in any car or truck and just assume it’s going to let me go the distance. Vehicle reliability can’t just be assumed. Any automobile has to earn my trust.

New Or Old: Trust Has To Be Earned

I recently bought a 2005 Subaru Forester XT. It had 190,000 miles (305,775 km). After getting it home, the climate control was wonky; it kept cutting in and out. Then I got a check-engine light for the cam position sensor. These things don’t build trust. I wasn’t about to take this thing on a crosstown drive let alone a cross-country excursion. Fortunately, both issues were pretty simple fixes—a used climate control panel and a $50 cam position sensor. I also replaced all the fluids and poked around underneath it, and it’s starting to earn my trust. Sometimes just spending time with it and getting to know a vehicle’s quirks can help too.

The same could be said about the 2024 INEOS Grenadier we’re about to take on the winter iteration of the 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally. INEOS Automotive is a new manufacturer of an equally new vehicle. Our specific Alcan Grenadier only has 287 miles on its odometer and only 87 upon initial receipt. We haven’t had any problems with it, but there’s a learning curve to it as there is with any new vehicle. How do we get the winch to work? How do the lockers engage? Why is the alternator charging at that rate? Is that right? Are we going into the Great White North in something with unknown vehicle reliability? Are we slightly nuts?

We think the Grenadier will treat us right. Regardless, it still will have to earn our trust. But we’re trusting it’ll do that … on a 5000-MILE ARCTIC RALLY. Oh hell, why not? This isn’t our first unconventional Arctic rodeo as seen in the video below.

Did You Hear That? I’m Sure It Was Nothing.

I’m probably overly sensitive to this stuff. Whether it’s a noise I’m not familiar with (like the whiny A/C idler pully on the Forester—I have a replacement) or a clunk on the Grenadier (no worry—we just had to resecure the fuel cans on the roof), I’m always attuned to noises, shimmies, shakes, and vibrations. Of course, many times they’re nothing. But having that awareness is probably a good thing. I just try not to be paranoid about it.

Hold on … did you hear that? Did you feel that? Was that just me? What’s that smell?

Most Vehicles Earn My Trust, But Not All

The NW Overland Trophy Challenge

In my many years of driving a multitude of cars, most vehicles that I’ve had (including those I haven’t even owned, such as the 2022 Alcan 5000 Subaru Outback Wilderness) become trustworthy. However, not all do.

Case in point, our old 2001 Jeep Cherokee, aka, the PDXJ. Despite the fact we drove it from Oregon to Arizona, Colorado, British Columbia, and other western locales, it broke down on us regularly. There was always an issue with it. We’d get it fixed only to have another gremlin rear its ugly head. That vehicle got to the point where I didn’t like working on it, I was nervous to take it on long trips, and I had a general disdain for it. Hey, this is supposed to be fun, right?

I also had a brand-new 2001 Ford Focus that was also constantly in the shop for something. From a bad input shaft to faulty drum brakes, it was in the shop at least once a month for the 12 agonizing months I owned it. The good news was it was all warranty work. The bad news was it was still in the damn shop!

All vehicles have issues of some sort, from little annoyances to blown engines and transmissions. But I don’t care if a car is from the most reliable automaker out there, or some barn find that hasn’t run in years—any vehicle has to earn my trust.

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