Car warranty rights?
September 30, 2007 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Car warranty rights?

I have a Jeep Liberty that's about 150 miles or 3 months away from the warranty expiring. Just recently the check engine light went on. I took it to the dealer and they told me that its a serious engine problem and their "engine guy" cant look at it for a week. They also asked me for its service records, but I really dont have any. This thing has had its oil changed every 3k miles at different oil places. They told me that Chrysler Corporate may need these records if the engine needs replacing. Are they trying to screw me out of warranty repair? How does this process work? I imagine I can get most of the records by going back to the oil places and asking if they still have them. If I am missing some will they use some form of legalese to get out of repairing this car? Will I need a lawyer if it comes down to this? What else can I do? I could really used some advice on this. Ive never owned a new car before and so far dealing this this dealer has not been a positive experience.

Also, Ive had a lot of trouble with this dealer. i practically had to yell at them to fix a body part moulding that fell off. They kept citing non-existant body damage and the fact that I put glue on it as reasons why they shouldnt honor the repair. After being very firm with them did they agree to fix this. I consider them very hostile and am worried that they just are looking for ways not to honor the warranty.
posted by damn dirty ape to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Im also afraid theyre going to find a way to cheat me out of the repair. For the before mentioned moulding they told my girlfriend they would only do it for $250 dollars before I yelled at them.

Are warranty repairs usually a scammy way for dealers to make money? Ifthis matters this is the Lynch Auto Group in Chicago, IL.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:03 PM on September 30, 2007


Go to another dealer if possible. Call corporate, give names and dates of the people at the dealership. You are right, they likely are looking to get out of the warrantied repairs. They get less money when they have to fix things for free.
posted by kellyblah at 1:03 PM on September 30, 2007


You'll need to prove that the scheduled maintenance affecting your warranty item was performed. If you can't they are well within their contractual rights to not honour the warranty, no lawyer nijitsu required. (IE: they agreed to give you a a warranty if you did the scheduled maintainence. They can make the valid claim that lack of maintainence led to the failure if you can't prove the maintainence was performed.) The only exception I can think of would be if a recall was issued. Because a recall is basically an admission the item in question was substandard regardless of your actions.

However when dealing with warranty claims there is also a certain amount of squeaky wheelness leading to results. The squeaky wheel thing is much more likely to work if you can't come up with receipts from a change or two than if there is six months and 35K kilometres worth of wear that you are unable to document.
posted by Mitheral at 1:37 PM on September 30, 2007


If you charged your oil changes...
posted by Kwantsar at 5:56 PM on September 30, 2007


They are actually playing you straight here. Chrysler will prefer not to pay for that kind of a warranty repair if they don't have to. Corporate is responsible for paying the dealer to do that warranty work; it's not something that the dealer does out of their own pocket. The dealer wants to be sure that they will actually get paid for the repair before they commit to it. As long as your records are in pretty good order, it should not be a problem.

Chrysler corporate will want to be sure they're paying a legitimate claim and not paying to fix someone's engine after the owner didn't maintain it; you'd be surprised how many people stretch oil changes out thousands of miles past where they should be doing them. (I once changed the oil on a grandparent's car; it had not been changed for 13,000 miles. What came out of that engine was not pretty... and the car only had 39,000 miles on it.) Since you haven't been getting oil changes done at the dealer, they don't know how often you've changed it, so they're within their rights to ask for your records.
posted by azpenguin at 11:17 PM on September 30, 2007


You'll need to prove that the scheduled maintenance affecting your warranty item was performed.

It's actually a gray area, and going to a different dealer might be the best route, if possible. You have the right to maintain your own car. They have to respect that right, but if they suspect that lack of maintenance or improper maintenance is the cause of the problem, they are not obligated to honor the warranty, so asking for the records is the best way to go from their point of view.

You are not obligated to go to the dealer that sold the vehicle to get warranty work done. You SHOULD, however, get some kind of documentation- an invoice or something from the dealer- backing up the CEL appeared before the warranty expired (if you don't already).

Many people intend to do proper maintenance but end up doing something wrong. Why should the manufacturer be responsible for that? I own a Hyundai, and the automatic transmission is designed to use *only* SP-III AT fluid. If I was a well-meaning but gullible owner, I might believe a service shop that says that their "universal" AT fluid works in my car. Truth is that it doesn't. If I that work done and my AT gets fried, Hyundai shouldn't be held accountable for my ignorance.

Bearing that in mind, try to build the strongest case you can to defend the maintenance you performed, and why you think it is adequate to protect the warranty. Document as well as you can, including stating how often you serviced the car versus the required service schedule. Send this to Chyrsler corporate. I'm not too sure about them, but I've had pretty good luck with Ford on issues like this.

You basically have to convince one of the people in their corporate customer service group that you're in the right and enlist their help in getting satisfaction. Remember, though, that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar- be as nice as you can about the whole thing, trying to project the positive as much as possible. It's easier to want to help someone who is positive rather than negative.
posted by Doohickie at 6:53 AM on October 1, 2007


Chrysler will prefer not to pay for that kind of a warranty repair if they don't have to. Corporate is responsible for paying the dealer to do that warranty work; it's not something that the dealer does out of their own pocket. The dealer wants to be sure that they will actually get paid for the repair before they commit to it.

There's also an added complication in that the dealer is paid a rate for the work by Chrysler that is notably lower than what you'll fork over if the job is done on your dime. Consequently it's better for them if you pay. It might even be better for them if you just buzz off entirely, if they have enough work to keep their techs busy.

The records are largely a macguffin. A serious engine problem does not, for the most part, arise because you changed the oil every 9,000 miles rather than 4,000. If you could produce believable records that you'd done the oil every 3 months like clockwork then that maybe could kinda sorta indicate that the engine probably never ran dry, much. However it's still not a real indicator, though it makes a good weed-out for customers who won't demand their warr coverage.

More likely your serious engine problem will be a covered situation whether you changed the oil every month or every century. The most important thing you can do is make sure you get paperwork with dates from this dealer now that prove you brought it in for this problem before your warr ended.

Continue to stand firm, and if they dig in their heels on the records then tell them you want them to document the problem and that it is definitely caused by insufficient oil changes/maint so that you can establish estoppal. I suspect that when you call on them to commit to a cause of the problem - and therefor open themselves up to another competent mechanic demonstrating that it's not so - they'll be more agreeable.
posted by phearlez at 2:59 PM on October 1, 2007


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