But after owning a Mitsubishi for about a year and a half, I can tell you - it is justified! Mitsubishi has a problem with creating defective products and not supporting their customers when things go bad. Let me tell you about all the problems I've had with my 2002 Mitsubishi Galant.
Broken motor mounts
I don't know how the heck this happens. I think that the mounts must have at least been damaged when I bought the car and progressively got worse over time. I drive the car pretty conservatively, so I'm not sure what I could have done to have caused this to happen.
Basically, the whole car shakes when the engine is under load. While passing another car moving between 60-80mph on the freeway, the car would feel normal until you let off the gas - at which point it felt like you were hitting a small animal (or large pothole) while the engine shifted back and forward and the transmission made a huge thunk. I literally thought I was going to lose the transmission when it was happening.
After a couple of hundred dollars to fix the motor mounts, it seems there is some permanent damage. See the next section.
Transmission shifts rough from 2nd to 3rd gear
I've owned my fair share of cars (and driven plenty more), and even though I did lose the transmission on one of them, it was never as rough shifting as this one. There was actually less noise and discomfort during the shift when the transmission failed than each rough shift I have with the Mitsubishi.
Each time I slowly accelerate to about 30mph, especially while the engine is cold, there is an extremely rough shift from 2nd to 3rd gear. It is rough enough that everyone in the car notices it and makes the car uncomfortable to drive. While it is hard to describe exactly how hard the shift is, I would say that if I had some type of drink sitting on the center console, it would undoubtedly be knocked over during the shift.
I had the transmission flushed back in December with the $150 "special" Mitsubishi transmission fluid with no effect.
I also wonder if the broken motor mounts contributed to or caused this problem. Before fixing the motor mounts, this rough shift problem was much worse, since the rough shift was accompanied by a general slosh of the engine moving back and forth. Since replacing the motor mounts the effects of the rough shift take less time, but it is still quite pronounced. It seems logical to me that hundreds of bad shifts with a loose engine could cause transmission problems. I'm not a mechanic though, so I don't really know.
Brakes squeak constantly
Every single time I brake I hear loud squeaks from the brakes. Loud enough to hurt your ears (the pitch is the worst) and to have people occasionally look over at you after you stop at a red light.
I've taken the car to at least 3 different brake shops. While these people are normally plenty happy to sell you new products, they all tell me that this is normal brake noise. Well, not quite in those words. Essentially they've all said that the brakes look normal on inspection, usually accompanied with some advice that brakes will squeak in the winter time, after a big rain, and when the car hasn't been driven in a while. My Mitsubishi's brakes squeak every single day of the year, whether or not it rained, even in 90 degree weather, and almost always at the same "level" on the brake pedal.
Fortunately I know I'm not crazy on this one:
There are also some reports of the brakes failing altogether - not something that makes me feel good.
UPDATE 12/30/09: Commenter Josh says that Wagner brand Thermoquiet pads won't squeak. I may be going for those soon since I started driving this car again and its driving me crazy.
This is probably the worst of all the problems I've had with the car. The paint is fading like crazy all over the car and it looks terrible. The pictures below show how bad it is. There are quite a few others having the same problem, although most of their cars are black while mine is silver. I talked with a dealer in Spokane, Washington and the manager said that he had seen this paint problem on dozens on Mitsubishi cars. The best information I've come across is that there was a bad clear coat put on the car, causing the defect and peeling after a couple of years. All of the paint has to be stripped off the metal and re-applied. You can't just paint over the affected parts or it will just fade again.
Mymitsubishipaintproblem.com looks like it was a good resource at one point to help people affected with this problem to communicate with Mitsubishi. As of now (September 2007) the site's domain name is parked and no longer has any information about the problem. Thankfully Google cache had the page and I was able to save some snapshots of it. Later, I found that the actual content of the page is still available at http://philipherold.typepad.com/my_weblog/ and the "old news" section is available at http://www.philipherold.com/news.html . I also zipped up the contents of the page and put it in this file.
There is also quite a long list of people complaining about the same paint problem happening to their Mitsubishi cars:
And some other links:
Water being sprayed into passenger cabin
UPDATE 12/30/09: After fixing the heat (see next section), I found a possible fix. When taking apart the lower dash and center console for the heater control valve, I noticed part of the airway assembly nearest the center console was clogging up with leaves and debris. Its worth cleaning it out if you are experiencing this problem and can't easily get under the car.
This summer we got to visit the pool more than we wanted to. Each time I turned left with the air conditioning on, water sprayed under pressure into the passenger cabin. Mostly it fell onto the passenger side and formed quite a pool of water, although it did drip on my feet by the gas pedal sometimes.
We took it to a local mechanic and he said that the problem was caused by the cabin air intake. It does not have an air filter, and therefore leafs and other gunk from the road tend to accumulate inside the cabin air system. Eventually enough junk in the system clogs the drain and the water has no place to go but into the passenger cabin.
Mitsubishi has released a modification to their original design that includes an air filter for the cabin air intake. Of course they won't just fix it for you. The part is less than $100, but the billable time for a mechanic to get to the spot buried in the firewall to replace it is like 5-8 hours. At $70/hour, I was quoted a price about $600 to get it fixed. Do you think anyone is going to want to pay that much money to fix a problem Mitsubishi should have fixed in the design stage of their car? Not me.
For now I had the mechanic get under the car and clean as much junk out of the cabin air system as possible. It hasn't been leaking since, but I only had to use the air conditioning for a couple of weeks before it cooled down enough outside so that I don't need the air conditioning. I can't wait to see what will happen next summer :( I'm sure the problem will resurface, right along with the bad smell and mold that accompanied the first leak.
See the pictures and notice the water spots:
Again, others have this exact same problem:
Heater does not work
UPDATE 12/30/09: This problem is most often caused by a defective heater control valve. If your heat isn't working, it is very likely that you need to replace the heater control valve prior to replacing the heater core or flushing it! Don't let your mechanic talk you into the more expensive option until you know you need it. He can test it by removing the lower part of the dash and manually moving the control valve arm.
I replaced the heater control valve myself with one I bought off ebay (about $150 shipped) with success! I just needed the valve, some lithium grease, about two hours and a bit of flexibility to get underneath the dash. I found excellent step-by-step instructions for replacing the valve here: http://fixmymitsu.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/heater-control-motor-my-heat-doesnt-work-and-i-hear-a-clicking-sound/ .
Another useful tip: if you're in the opposite situation (i.e. heater control valve is stuck in the "on" position), making the car unbearably hot because the heat is always on, you can press the recirculate button to temporarily halt the flow of heat from the engine. The setting won't stick between car starts, but at least you'll be able to drive around without all windows down in the dead of winter.
Recently there was a cold morning and I decided to turn on the heater in my Galant. It turns out that was a mistake. As soon as I switched the temperature gauge from cold to hot, I heard a clicking noise like a piece of paper in a fan (although much louder) from behind the dash. It stopped after a few seconds. I immediately turned off the fan, and after a few minutes tried it again. The fan blows air just fine, and the air conditioning still works, but no hot air comes out at all.
I did some searching on the 'net and found that this is probably related to a bad heater control valve. I guess they get stuck when they haven't been used all summer and then get switched to 'on' at the beginning of winter. Geez, can anything else go wrong with this car? I haven't yet taken the car to a mechanic for this one - I'll post an update when I find out what the bill will be.
In the meantime, you can read about other people having problems with their Mitsubishi heat:
Erratic idle when transmission is in gear
UPDATE 12/30/09: I've seen this problem a few times since I last posted, but heard the likely cause is dirty fuel injectors and throttle body. Get that fuel injector cleaning service if you're seeing this one.
The latest problem has only surfaced in the last week or two. In the past I have occasionally seen the car idle quite badly, but this only happened maybe once per month. For the last week it can hardly idle while sitting at a stop light. This seems to only happen once the car has warmed up. My Galant will start nicely and drive on the freeway nicely anytime, but as soon as I slow down to below 25 miles per hour or I come to a stop at a red light, it begins to puke. It is so bad I've actually had problems with power steering loss as I go around a corner. The car hasn't died on me yet, but I'm expecting it to soon since I lose enough power that the lights go out and the tachometer drops to zero before it regains power. I have to give the car a lot of gas to keep going.
The Galant also shifts and revs in strange ways. It will shift when it doesn't need to and drop two gears when it only needs to go one, or just be in the wrong gear altogether.
As soon as I stick the car in neutral or park, it recovers and will idle just fine.
I haven't found many others having this issue on their Mitsubishi cars. Most posts say too much air/not enough gas or the like related to a rough idle. Hopefully the mechanic will find something out.
As you can see I've had quite the list of problems. Once I took it to a mechanic and even he couldn't believe all of the problems I've had. Beyond the problems, the biggest thing I've learned from this experience is that Mitsubishi will not take care of their customers. For example, the people that I've seen that have had their paint problems fixed by Mitsubishi had to fight tooth and nail to get it done (like complain to their local TV station). Mitsubishi won't take care of them when they have problems, and for this reason I am unhappy with them.
Sometimes the best way to make yourself known is to vote with your dollar. This was definitely my first and last Mitsubishi. I wish I still had my 1994 Honda Civic, since I had less problems with it. There were two reasons I sold it: 1. No air conditioning, 2. My wife can't drive a manual transmission.
Hopefully you read this article because you were considering to buy a Galant and now know that you shouldn't. If you stumbled across this page because you are already having a problem with your Mitsubishi, please comment below and post any relevant information with regard to problems and fixes.