Piston Slap: Regarding oil changes and warranty claims
First off, I just want you to know that I always enjoy your articles. I was once a bit of a half-assed home mechanic working on an interesting collection of my own stuff (Volvo 1800, Porsche 911, and later 356 Roadster, etc. ), but over the years I realize I have become quarter-assed at the best. But back to oil changes.
My wife bought a 2014 Audi All Road from an independent dealer, and I decided—for the first time ever—to buy an aftermarket warranty. Long story short, the car began to burn a quart of oil every 10 minutes or so and then it burned a valve. The warranty was still in effect, but the warranty company decided that it would not cover the cost because I changed my own oil and I didn’t have receipts (paying with cash has bitten me a few times).
It should be noted that no more than 11,000 miles had been put on the car since it was purchased, which amounts to not much more than one Audi recommended oil change. After a number of phone calls to the warranty company, I did a little research on my own and discovered that there is more to the story than simple documentation of oil changes. The law seems to require actual proof that the oil changes were not performed and further, that the lack of oil changes actually contributed to the problem. The onus appears to be on the manufacture/warranty company to prove that both of those conditions have been met.
In my case, the warranty company ultimately backed down and then approved $9200 for a replacement engine, which has since been installed. I think that’s as close to a happy ending as one is going to get with a warranty company. I know that does not apply directly to your Hyundai owners issue, but I thought you might find it useful.
Thank you for reading, John, and I sincerely appreciate you sharing your story with readers here at Piston Slap. While you admit this isn’t necessarily relevant to the Hyundai/Kia engine debacle, it adds an important element we need to make a bigger deal about: exploratory surgery to prove owner neglect. And the proof is usually in the form of sludge.
There are federal laws on the matter of such proof, but a personal experience of mine came to the same conclusion. Many moons ago, the motor in my mom’s certified pre-owned (CPO) car bit the dust, and the service department did some exploratory surgery on behalf of the CPO warranty administrator to see if the owner was at fault. They had to approve the claim, as they saw a fresh Mobil 1 oil filter and, upon removing both valve covers, an 80,000 mile engine that looked shiny and new enough to back up my claims of regular oil changes with synthetic oil.
If that engine never had an oil change, not only would my mom be on the hook for a new motor, there’s a chance she’d have to pay the dealership for the exploratory surgery. But she never did, and I was never skewered for not maintaining her ride.
I didn’t know the laws on the books have a clause about finding “actual proof,” so I thank you for not taking no for an answer and telling us about your experience after the fact. Because this is absolutely not rocket science, it’s just about regular oil changes.
Have a question you’d like answered on Piston Slap? Send your queries to email@example.com—give us as much detail as possible so we can help! Keep in mind this is a weekly column, so if you need an expedited answer, please tell me in your email.