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Chevrolet Malibu (HO/REUTERS)
Chevrolet Malibu (HO/REUTERS)

Rob's Garage

GM denied my warranty claim. Now what? Add to ...


In 2008, every time I turned the steering on my Chevy Malibu it made a clunking noise. I took it to a dealer, who dealt with it by lubricating my steering shaft. The car had approximately 30,000 kilometres on it at the time. Today, my car now has 67,000 kilometres on it and the clunking noise is back. Of course, the 60,000-kilometre warranty has expired.

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I called General Motors' head office in Oshawa, Ont., where I was told by customer service to make an appointment at a dealership. I did, and after being billed $65 for an inspection, was told that the steering shaft must be replaced, the stabilizer bars are loose - they need to be replaced too - and an alignment must be done.

GM offered to split the cost of the repairs 50-50 while the dealership suggested a $100 deductible. I have been in a week-long discussion with GM arguing that the steering problem was pre-existing as it was brought to the company's attention while under warranty - and not repaired correctly. GM has now rescinded its offer and I have asked that the problem be taken to its management team. I asked the customer service rep for her manager's name and number but was simply told that I would have to go to the management team.

I have never heard of anybody having to replace a steering shaft before. The car is only four years old and I have had other issues with squeaking brakes, a defective gas cap and an irregular gas gauge.

The cost of these repairs is more than $1,000 and I am getting nowhere with GM. Is there anybody I can contact about this?


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Wendy, without doubt, being bounced around is frustrating and annoying. I remember being in your position years ago after I bought my first new car. I was sent from pillar to post without any satisfaction and it wasn't until I spoke with the owner of the dealership that I got results - which shouldn't be necessary.

The really bad news is that your Malibu is prone to all the problems you have mentioned. I would like to say that I have the answer but you have taken the steps a reasonable person would do in a similar situation.

That said, you do have two more options. The first is to set up a meeting with the president of your dealership. Explain your situation and your feelings about your treatment. Failing resolution at this level, you have no choice but to contact the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP). It is an independent third party that presents a consumer's case before the courts if necessary. The following excerpt is from its web site (camvap.ca):

The Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan is a program where disputes between consumers and vehicle manufacturers about alleged manufacturing defects or implementation of the manufacturers' new vehicle warranty can be put before a neutral third party (arbitrator) for resolution.

Most of the time, cases don't reach court. I can tell you from personal experience (because I guided a relative through this process) that before it got presented to the courts, a resolution was reached once the dealer found out that CAMVAP was involved.

Wendy, although this sounds intimidating, remember that car manufacturers provide a service as well as a sales outlet. If they want to keep you as a customer, they will bargain in good faith. At the very least, a three-way split of the service costs (between the dealer, General Motors and yourself) should be one of your options. This can't be too far off as you already mentioned that the dealer would go good on a 50/50 split of the costs.

As someone who has spent considerable time in the retail repair sector, I am disappointed that these types of things still take place in an era of rapid information gathering.

Best of luck.

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