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Advice on Battling with the Dealership Over Repair?

Hey All,
I have a 2006 Honda Civic EX Coupe. This past Sunday about two miles from home I started hearing this horrible chattering sound coming from the engine compartment. Oil was fine, transmission fluid was fine, no check engine lights etc. Had the car towed to a local shop for a diagnosis. Turns out the drive belt auto-tensioner pivot bolt broke and according to the mechanic, the bolt would need to be extracted/replaced, along with a new water pump and possibly a new tensioner assembly. I did a little online research and it turns out that Honda put out a TSB Product Update (09-007) for this exact issue in 2009. I actually had the update done on my car in June of last year. Problem is, the new part has now failed in the exact way the prior defective part did. I had the car towed to the local Honda dealership I’ve been going to for routine service as the TSB had specific instructions for removing a severed bolt (not using a TIME-SERT, whatever that is) and the local shop didn’t have the equipment to handle it properly. They are telling me I am responsible for the $600 bolt extraction and replacement, and that there is a 5% chance they wont be able to remove the bolt in which case I’d need a new engine block ($6000!). I told them this was unacceptable and am now in the process of filing a complaint/request for assistance from Honda. Just wondering if anyone had any thoughts on whether my expectation that they should cover the cost of the repair is reasonable/any ideas/tactics to get them to reconsider. (DA’s office, BBB, Facebook?) To my mind by issuing the product update they acknowledged a defect in the car and prescribed a remedy (which they did free of charge) but the remedy really wasn’t a remedy and so the defect still persists and they should fix it.
Thanks so much!
-Keith in Boston

How Many Miles On This Experimental Honda ?
Did You Purchase The Car New ?

CSA

Yes, please provide us with the requested information. Also, how many miles have you put on the car since the drive belt auto-tensioner pivot bolt was replaced?

Also, concentrate on working with the dealer and possibly Honda at this time. Once you go past them to a 3rd party, there is almost no chance of any good will from the dealership or Honda. I know that’s not easy at this point, but it may be your best chance of a happy ending.

Repairs are typically covered by something like a 90 day period against defects in material and workmanship. You should check your receipt or call the repair place to find out the exact details. Hopefully, Honda will step up to the plate and offer some compensation but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Did a dealership do the repair last time?

I find it incredibly hard to believe that the only other recourse is a new/used block. You’re now at a dealership- they do not like to do these type of repairs but prefer to replace things with new parts. If it comes down to it, you may choose to have it taken to an independent garage if they break off the bolt and want to swap long blocks. Better chance of someone outside of a dealership service dept finding a more palatable solution, money-wise…

I agree.
The DA’s office won’t help you. Nothing illegal has been done.
The BBB won’t help you. File a complaint if it makes you feel better, but the manufacturer is the one responsible, not the dealership.

Facebook…strangely enough, that might be your best odds. The manufacturers have become aware of the effects of social media on their reputations, and have established and staffed “social media managers”. They actually monitor everything said on the major social media sites about their product and in many cases respond in a manner above and beyond their product’s warranty.

You could also file in a claim in small claims court, but whereas there’s no applicable warranty i force, I’m not sure you’d get anywhere.

Or, you could always talk with a lawyer. The first visit is often free.

“Battling” Could Set You In The Wrong Stance. I’d Try “Working With” The Dealer And Honda To Find An Amicable Solution. If That Doesn’t Go Anywhere Then Battling Is Appropriate.

Are you dealing with the Service Manager/Director ? Ask him/her to arrange a meeting with the regional Honda srvice/parts representative, you, and your Honda to discuss the issue.

There’s also the dealer general manager and/or owner/principal to hear your case.

Are you withholding any information from us ? How many dealers have you used, here ? Which one did what ?

CSA

I agree with @Twinturbo: it is hard to believe the entire engine needs to be replaced because a bolt has snapped.
Bolts don’t just snap off. While they may have a 90 day warranty on parts and labor, that bolt should have outlasted the life of the car, especially if you consider what it is used for and where it is located. There’s not a whole lot of stress on that bolt. They may have overtightened it, installed it wrong or perhaps the bolt had a defect.
It couldn’t have been anything you did to that car to cause that bolt to snap.

CSA has a good thought saying to try to work with the service manager. Something like this should be a good faith repair, where maybe you end up paying half but most certainly not the entire sum. If you don’t get satisfaction from the service manager, contact Honda of America.

I was unable to dig up the TSB mentioned, but if in fact that bolt breaking was a known problem, they probably either designed the bracket poorly of undersized the bolt. I’d be interested in seeing exactly what the TSB saya.

This was Honda’s service campaign 09-007. This campaign expired 1-30-2012, however because the remedy has failed you should ask Honda for a “Goodwill” repair.

Customer letter:

I’m wondering why the local mechanic told you that you needed a new water pump. I was under the impression that the water pump was driven by the timing chain.

I found some more info on this problem:

It seems the drive belt routing is to blame for the bolts breaking. Check the routing of your belt to make sure the update was properly done.

I guess I got my answer, the water pump is belt driven.

Hey Guys,
Thanks for all the comments…

Im guessing here on the milage (all my paperwork is in the car at the dealership and I’m in Seattle on business currently) but I think it’s been something like 10K since they did they update. (Current at 88K.) I purchased the car used in December 2009 from a Toyota dealership and with the exception of the first oil change I had done, I’ve brought it to the local Honda dealership for all oil changes, transmission fluid flush, coolant flush, tire rotation. This is the first actual “problem” I’ve had with the car.

Right, the case I am trying to make is that their “solution” to the defect did not turn out to be a solution at all since the same failure occurred (or perhaps the update was done incorrectly?). Maybe battle was the wrong word - I guess I don’t have a ton of leverage but I would seem to me based on logic I have a reasonable case. Financially it would be worthwhile for them to absorb at least some of the cost vs. losing a customer long term.

I have been in touch with the case manager at American Honda. They left a message saying they had spoken with the local Honda rep. Called right back, but now playing phone tag again.

With regards to the water pump, the local mechanic said the water pump pulley dug into tensioner belt bracket and now there is play in the tensioner assembly. Honda said neither needed to be replaced however.

Thanks again,
Keith

" I told them this was unacceptable and am now in the process of filing a complaint/request for assistance from Honda."

This was excellent. Hang in there with everyone’s good advice. Honda had been very responsive in the past to me. Be persistent.