“Secret"warranties exposed for all

  • 16/09/2008 02:00
  • 16/09/2008 02:00
Who gets these free repairs? Mainly motorists who won’t take their service manager’s NO for an answer and who use internal service bulle...

Who gets these free repairs? Mainly motorists who won’t take their service manager’s NO for an answer and who use internal service bulletins listed in my Lemon-Aid guides or access the information for free on the Internet (www.alldatadiy.com/recalls/). With this information, motorists can prove that a failure is factory-related and, ipso facto, the manufacturer’s responsibility.

Carefully peruse all the bulletins concerning faulty components. Take copies to the dealer, but don’t be shocked if the service manager and automaker lie through their teeth, denying these bulletins’ existence—until you threaten to file a claim in court, that is.

¦ THE “GENERAL” IS EXPOSED. General Motors has a long history of stonewalling owner complaints and using secret warranties to pay off the most persistent complainers. That’s what it did with owner complaints of overheated engines caused by a failure-prone intake manifold head gasket. For over a decade, GM swore there was no problem, while paying some customers’ repairs up to 7 years/160,000 kilometers. This defect affected millions of 1995-2004 vehicles equipped with V6 engines (particularly front drive minivans). Two years ago, I helped file a $1 billion class action in Toronto and served as a pro-bono expert witness. Last week, GM settled in Canada after settling earlier this year in the States, pledging refunds of up to $800 per claim and admitting no wrongdoing; a common practice by companies that are up to their eyeballs in wrongdoing.

THE “SMOKING GUN” BULLETIN GM COULDN’T HIDE New intake manifold and gasket kits.1995–1997 Buick Riviera; 1995–2004 Buick Park Avenue; 1996–2004 Buick Regal; 1997–2004Buick LeSabre; 1998–1999 Chevrolet Lumina; 1998–2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo; 2000–2004Chevrolet Impala; 1995–1996 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight; 1995–1999 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight;1998–1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue; 1995–2004 Pontiac Bonneville; and 1997–2003 Pontiac Grand Prix.All with V6 engines. OVERVIEW: New upper intake manifold and gasket kits have been released. These new kits will provide the dealer with the ability to get exactly what is necessary for a correct repair. In addition some of the gaskets have been updated to a more robust design.

¦ ASIAN AUTOMAKERS ARE MORE OPEN. Unlike Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors, Asian automakers publicize their warranty extensions. For example, many Toyota and Lexus models, as well as Honda’s venerable Civic and Odyssey, have had serious automatic transmission flaws. To their credit, these automakers usually repair the problem for free under a “goodwill” policy, no questions asked Nevertheless, some problems can take years to resolve. For example, it took Toyota over five years to correct a delayed transmission engagement and engine surging defect on almost its entire 2000+ lineup. Owners reported that their vehicle would almost stall out when accelerating from a stop and then suddenly surge ahead, making driving both hazardous and annoying. Toyota tried numerous software and hardware fixes, before correcting the problem and covering the repair under a goodwill extended warranty.

HONDA FAULTY TRANSMISSIONS (2001-2004 CIVICS). 2001–04 HONDA CIVIC Sympton: The vehicle cannot move when you select Drive. The MIL comes on (’01–03 models) or the D indicator blinks (’04 models) with A/T DTC P0730 (shift control system) set. PROBABLE CAUSE: Excessive wear in the 2nd clutch. VEHICLES AFFECTED: 2001–04 Civic 2-door and 4-door with A/T. CORRECTIVE ACTION: Replace the A/T. Use the Honda Interface Module (HIM) to update the PCM software (’01–03 models only).ENGINE CONTROLS—A/T DOWNSHIFT LAG/GEAR HUNTING.BULLETIN NO.: TC005-05 Date: June 21, 2005

TOYOTA STALLING AND SURGING (Most Models) ECM calibration shift feeling enhancement. 2004–2005 Camry. To improve the transmission shift feeling during specific operating modes, the Engine Control Module (SAE term: Powertrain Control Module/PCM) calibration has been revised. These improvements include:• Reduced downshift lag when accelerating at speeds from 10 to 20 mph [16–32 km/h].• Less gear hunting when driving on/off accelerator pedal at 20 to 30 mph [32–48 km/h] (for example:during heavy rush-hour traffic). Improved response rate during heavy acceleration from a stop.

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