April 22, 2003

Lemon-Aid author says Canadians are angry at industry’s “secret warranties”

Toronto, Ontario – Canadian consumers are up in arms over the car industry’s practice of handing out secret warranty repairs under the guise of “goodwill,” says Phil Edmonston, author of the Lemon-Aid Used Car and Minivan Guide 2004.

Edmonston points out that the Internet is full of protest websites set up by angry car owners who’ve had to pay for repairs that other motorists got for free. Sites like Ford Transmission Victims, GM V6 Lemons and Chrysler Paint Peeling, give owners tips on which vehicle models are eligible for free repairs, and provide service bulletin documentation and jurisprudence for consumers planning small claim actions.

“Secret warranties work this way, says Edmonston: When dealers report a significant recurrence of a specific problem that’s not a safety issue, automakers quietly issue service bulletins to dealers that describe the problem and how to fix it. If the problems crop up in a very large number of vehicles after the base warranty has expired, and if the owners of those vehicles protest loudly enough, the automakers quietly pay for the repairs. But owners are never told these defects are factory-related and covered by the emissions warranty or issued recall letters.”

Edmonston highlighted the following major secret warranties for 2003:

  • Chrysler defective engine head gasket, automatic transmissions, and paint delamination (1995-99 Neon, Cirrus, Stratus, and minivans).
  • Ford 4.6 litre V8 engine intake manifold failures (1997-2001). Ford will replace these defective manifolds free of charge on police cars and leased vehicles. Other models are treated on a case-by-case basis.
  • GM V6 engine intake manifold failures (1995-2001). Particularly common on GM Venture and Montana minivans.

Connect with Autos.ca