Chrysler Tried to Weasel Out of a Lawsuit Through a Technicality
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Purchasing a new car comes with a long to-do list, including dissecting your vehicle’s warranty options. As one Ram 1500 owner learned the hard way, knowing your warranty coverage and requirements is important.
Chrysler’s lifetime powertrain warranty requirements have come under scrutiny as they tried to use one of the stipulations as a legal loophole according to CarComplaints.com
Chrysler is arguing that, if a certain maintenance requirement is not met, their lifetime powertrain warranty becomes invalid.
What does a lifetime powertrain warranty cover?
Chrysler, which owns Dodge, has given a few of its vehicles a lifetime powertrain warranty. For a 2009 Ram 1500, the warranty covers certain engine, transmission, and axle repairs. This warranty is valid for the first owner or lessee of the truck, no matter how long they have the truck.
Ram 1500s are popular trucks and are often recommended for their towing and cargo capacities. For drivers that plan to keep their truck for several years, the powertrain warranty could be appealing.
However, Chrysler has requirements that Ram 1500 owners should keep in mind. One tricky rule states that the truck must undergo a free powertrain inspection at an authorized dealer once every five years. Chrysler is claiming that, without doing the inspection every five years, they can refuse to pay for repairs that would’ve been covered by the warranty.
But who should be responsible for keeping track of these inspections—the vehicle owner, the dealership, or the manufacturer? This very question is at the heart of a Kansas lawsuit.
Why are the powertrain inspections important?
According to CarComplaints.com, Michael Marksberry purchased his Ram 1500 from a Kansas dealership in October 2009. Now, fast forward five years to 2014.
In order to keep the powertrain warranty valid, Marksberry had to bring his truck in to be inspected 60 days before or after the five-year mark.
Marksberry brought his vehicle in for regular service in December 2014. However, he didn’t request a powertrain inspection, nor did the dealership offer to do one. Dodge provided powertrain inspection logs in the 2009 Ram warranty brochure to help owners keep track of these inspections, but no reminder is required.
When the dealership later refused to fix broken exhaust manifold bolts for free, Marksberry filed a lawsuit against Chrysler. He claims that the car manufacturer should be responsible for reminding owners about the powertrain inspections. Chrysler claims the lawsuit should be dropped, as the dealership eventually compensated Marksberry for the repairs.
This has been the case for many other car warranty owners with 2006-2009 vehicles from brands under Fiat Chrysler (FCA). Though no verdict has been reached yet, FCA’s various requests to drop the lawsuit have been denied.
You can avoid unexpected repair bills by staying informed on your car’s warranties.
Understand the requirements of your car warranty
There are many types of car warranties that may be offered to a new car buyer, but they all work a little differently. Some warranties cost you money and may be a hidden fee on a car loan. Other warranties come free of charge and are offered by the vehicle manufacturer.
When you purchase a new car, the dealer will have you sign lots of different contracts and agreements, so make sure you examine the fine print.
Don’t sign off on warranties or other “add-ons” unless you fully understand them. They can hide a variety of sneaky fees that raise the price more than you planned on.
And as Markberry’s case has shown, never assume that another party will keep track of warranty requirements. Vehicle owners often have to keep on top of service requirements or risk losing out on the warranty’s benefits.
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