What to do when dealership changes their mind about warranty coverage after repairs are done?
December 2, 2006 3:56 PM Subscribe
I have a relative who bought a new Toyota and returned it for repair. The dealership claimed it would be covered under warranty before
fixing it, but said it wouldn't be covered after
fixing it. He can't afford the unexpected repair bill, so he risks losing the entire car to a lien. Any advice?
posted by helios to travel & transportation (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
He bought an automatic-transmission 2006 Toyota Highlander in August. After driving it for a 2-3 months, the car broke down while he was driving it (with a loud "pop"). He remembers hearing a faint noise coming from the engine prior in the days prior to breaking down, but assumed that it was due to the colder weather.
He had it towed to the dealership (towing was paid by his insurance company). The dealership told him that it would be fixed under warranty and gave him a loaner car.
Two weeks later, they called him to tell him that the car is ready. When he arrived (and only after he arrived and gave up his loaner car), they told him that there will be a $3,500 charge which is payable immediately. The dealership said that they performed the repairs, but the warranty claim was rejected because they the engine was damaged due to "over-rev". He doesn't recall over-revving the engine at any time (and besides, it's an automatic).
The day they told him to pick it up was the first day he was told of the charges. He can't afford to pay the unexpected $3,500, so he left it there. The dealership told him that he has until next week to pick it up, otherwise they will place a "work lien" (or something like that) on it, and it will effectively become their property.
He only authorized the repair because he was told it would be fixed under warranty. Obviously, if they would have told him in advance of the charges, he would have denied the repairs, retrieved the car, and dealt with it later. But since they already performed the repairs and are holding the car, he risks losing it entirely.
I don't really know what to tell him, but from hearing his story, it seems like he's getting screwed by Toyota. Any advice? Some questions I came up with:
1) Can a warranty claim for an automatic transmission be rejected due to over-revving an engine? And can that claim be challenged?
2) Was it legal for them to say it would be covered under warranty, and then try to charge him for it after the repairs were done?
3) He has $2,000 in the bank. Should he use this to hire a lawyer, or try to use it to negotiate with the dealership somehow?
For reference, the car/dealership is in Tennessee, and he's in Georgia.