Consumer Information and Alerts!!
Do you have a vehicle with a long warranty period? Or one of the dreaded after-market extended warranties? Some manufacturers offer as much as 10 years or 100,000 mile warranties. Some offer 3 year, 36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranties and 5 year, 50,000 or 60,000 miles Powertrain or drivetrain warranties. Aftermarket warranties vary widely in the terms of coverage, so read it carefully, not just the shiny brochure that says the world is perfect and you will never have another car problem again! Have you read your warranty?
What does all this mean to you, the consumer?
Letâs say you have a 5 year, 60,000 mile warranty and after 4 years and 48,000 miles your engine fails. A bearings ãspinsä or rod breaks·.now what? You tow your vehicle to the shop and the next day the service writer calls and says they can fix the car, but the bill will be $4500.00. You say·äthe car is under warranty·you guys have to pay for it.ä Then comes the kicker·äMr. Consumer, we have no documentation that the oil was changed according to the service schedule·therefore itâs not a warranty issue.ä The conversation continues about how you changed the oil every 3,000 miles using quick lubes, your neighbor, coupons from the local tire store etc·do you have the receipts? If not, you lose!!
Does this mean you have to go to the dealer for all your maintenance? Absolutely not!!! There have been numerous court cases where the vehicle owner could prove his maintenance through receipts, dated box tops from oil filters, service histories from the quick lube etc.
Bottom line· 1. Do the required maintenance·read your ownerâs manual and follow the proper service schedule·remember almost every vehicle requires you follow the severe service schedule!
2. If you do your own maintenance, keep every receipt and make sure the date is legible. Write the mileage on the receipt and / or take dated digital pictures of the receipt and your odometer. If you use a quick lube or other facility, make sure the receipt is itemized as to what was done. Receipts should ALWAYS have the odometer reading and VIN number legible. If the shop does not have the odometer and VIN on your repair order, make them put that information on it!
3. If you need these for proof, make copies to take to the shop·donât give them your originals!! Stuff does get lost, and if your originals are gone, the party is over!
4. If you have an extended warranty of any kind, you MUST document the condition of the vehicle at the time the warranty goes into effect. Oil analysis testing is a perfect method for documenting internal wear of your engine or transmission. A favorite ploy of warranty companies is to say, ãitâs a pre-existing conditionä. Ask to see the warranty companyâs inspection report if they deny your claim. Ask to speak directly to the inspector·get his credentials and certifications. Is he or she really qualified to make the call? Some companies deny your claim without even inspecting the vehicle! They hope that youâll roll over and accept their decision without a fight. Donât.
5. Hire your own expert if you are turned down for a warranty claim and you have followed the required maintenance. A neutral third party can make a world of difference, especially if the sides disagree and the claim is taken to court. A company like Automotive MDS not only has 60 years of combined mechanical experience, but ASE master technicians that are court qualified!
ATTENTION ATTENTION ATTENTION
We have all seen the devastation caused by hurricanes in the gulf coast. Remember the pictures of cars and trucks where you could just see the roof above the water?
Thousands of those cars are being sold at salvage auctions NOW! An estimated 517,000 vehicles were damaged in Hurricane Katrina alone! Insurance companies are totaling these vehicles as fast as they can, and issuing "salvage titles". The vehicles are taken to salvage auctions and sold to the highest bidder. Where do they go? Some go the metal recycling companies, some go to "junkyards" or "salvage yards", and some go to "rebuilders".
When a vehicle goes to an unethical rebuilder, they clean the vehicle, change the oil and make what repairs are necessary to make it run. The title is "washed" so the salvage designation is no longer present on the paperwork. Title washing is not a difficult process. The vehicle is then offered for sale.
What happens if you buy one of these cars? Sooner or later you WILL HAVE A PROBLEM! Problems found in flood cars include electronics failures, differential and transmission failures and engine failures. Sometimes they donât surface for months afterward. So how do you protect yourself? First and foremost, HAVE THE VEHICLE EXAMINED BY AN UNINTERESTED THIRD PARTY THAT HOLDS A MASTER AUTOMOTIVE TECHNICIAN CERTIFICATION!
Second, if there is any doubt after the vehicle is inspected, do a title search either through your state motor vehicle department or use one of the online services available. Look for titles that may have originated in the hurricane states and have been changed recently! How recently? Any title changed from a hurricane state in the last year to 18 months is suspect! Also check for several titles changes in a short period of time, or any title that states the vehicle was owned by an insurance company and / or a body shop.
Here is an example: letâs say you are looking at a 2002 Honda Accord with 56,000 miles on the odometer. Your technician says, " There are signs of water damage". You run a title search at the department of motor vehicles and find the original title listed as Florida. The next title for the vehicle shows Texas, and shortly after the Texas title is issued, another title is issued in Ohio, now the vehicle is for sale in Colorado with a Colorado title. The Colorado title does not show a salvage or "S" title. Why? The vehicle may have never been to Texas or Ohio!! The title was sent by mail to the department of motor vehicles for a new title where the salvage designation was dropped. Was it dropped on purpose or accidentally? Each state has itâs own title format and title clerks may not always know what to look for on another stateâs title. The title is "washed" clean!!
Your own inspection is your best defense against buying a flood vehicle! Use a certified technician that is working for you!! Donât trust the salesman or dealer to inspect the vehicle for you! Their technicians are working for them!!!
If your inspection leaves any unanswered questions, find another car!!
WHAT IS A "CERTIFIED" USED CAR?
Certified used cars are typically 1 to 3 model year old vehicles, and have less than 15,000 miles per year, on the odometer. The individual dealer and/or manufacturer often determine ãCertifiedä. THERE ARE NO INDUSTRY STANDARDS FOR CERTIFICATION!!!
Where do "certified" used cars come from?
Many, if not most, used cars on lots came through an auction at some point in time. Weâve all heard the story about the low mileage car being traded in by a little old lady type, and thatÎs why the low mileage. How many little old ladies are out there trading cars in every 6 months or every year??? Auction cars come from a variety of sources, rental car fleets, large volume fleets and lease return vehicles. Salesmen often do not know the history of a particular vehicle, and even if they do, they may or may not tell you! Would you rather be told that Grandma traded the car in, or that it belonged to a major rental car company?
What has to be determined to certify a used car?
Each manufacturer or dealer sets their own certification requirements. Some manufacturers will ãcertifyä a vehicle to get special financing from their lenders. That vehicle may or may not have even been examined by a technician. Some ãcertifiedä used cars only meet minimal safety standards for brakes, tires etc. The mechanical condition and maintenance of the vehicle may not have been checked! ãCertifiedä used cars may have collision damage that has been repaired. Was the repair done with genuine replacement parts? Were the repairs done with industry standard workmanship?
"It must be O.K·I have a warranty"
Certified used cars usually have a warranty with them. Sometimes itâs the remainder of the manufacturer warranty. Sometimes itâs a combination of the manufacturer warranty and a warranty supplied by the dealer. What does the warranty cover? Are there exclusions for second or third owners? Is there a warranty claim history available? If the vehicle has had some collision repairs, are those covered by the warranty? Get a copy of the warranty (not the warranty company brochure), and READ IT THOROUGHLY!! Itâs better to take the time to read it now, than to be disappointed later!
" It checked out O.K. on the Internet"
Title searches / VIN number checks done through Internet companies provide valuable information about the vehicle you are considering; however the information may not be complete. Minor collision damage is rarely reported to any public information organizations. Many states, including Colorado, do not require reporting of any accident except when a death occurs or government property is damaged. Cars sold at salvage auctions will show a salvage title that was issued by the state, only if the damage requires a salvage title. Cars can be sold through salvage auctions without a salvage title. Do not depend strictly on an Internet report before you spend your money!
We suggest you protect yourself and have the vehicle examined by an independent source! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
We are rapidly approaching the time of year when weather can play a major role in the operation of your vehicle. We would like to suggest that you consider the following items BEFORE the bad weather arrives:
Tire condition and tire pressure. We've all heard about the Bridgestone/Firestone problems. You may not have heard that the failures are traced to low tire pressures. Take a moment and learn what the tire pressures for your vehicle are. This information is printed on the tire placard label attached to your vehicle, and in the owner's manual. Also, your tire dealer will have that information for you. Check your tires at least once a month!
Anti-freeze. Check your coolant now for freeze protection BEFORE you need it! Also, determine what type of coolant your vehicle requires. If your car uses new generation coolant mixtures, DO NOT MIX ETHYLENE GLYCOL coolants with them. The two types may not be not compatible, and could cause some corrosion problems in your system. Again, refer to your owners' manual or check the labels under the hood of your car.
Automatic Transmissions. When was the last time you had your transmission serviced? Automatic transmission fluid is the most neglected fluid in your vehicle! Servicing the transmission can greatly extend it's useful life. If your vehicle is stuck in show, can you "rock" the vehicle with the transmission? Check your owners' manual for the manufacturers procedures for removing a stuck vehicle.
Tips When Buying a "ãSalvage Vehicle"
Prepared by the Staff at Auto MDâs
If you are considering purchasing a vehicle which has been totaled by an insurance company and now has a ãsalvageä title, be sure to do the following:
Determine why the vehicle was totaled, i.e. flood, fire, collision, and which insurance company totaled the vehicle (can be obtained by doing a title search).
Determine which body or repair shop did the rebuild. Make sure they are of a good reputation and high skill level. Inspect the shop and the pictures of the vehicle before repairs were done.
Determine the retail value of the vehicle and subtract 55% of that price to arrive at a purchase price.
If you are going to borrow money from a lending institution, make sure the lender will loan money on a ãsalvageä car title.
Check with your insurance company to make sure the vehicle can be insured with a ãsalvageä title.
Have the vehicle inspected by a qualified technician who is a Certified Master Technician. Caution: The car must be inspected not only for the mechanical condition, but also to determine how well it was rebuilt.
If a mechanical inspection determines there are any doubts regarding the vehicleâs alignment, take it to a well established frame and alignment shop.