Warranties - Whether Racing or Autocrossing, Automakers Won't Cover It

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 30, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    "When it hits the track, all bets are off," says Bob Carlson, Porsche Cars of North America spokesman.

    By ANDREW LUU
    (08:30 June 30, 2004)

    MICHAEL MILLER DIDN’T know it, but the drivetrain warranty was already void on his son’s new Mitsubishi Evolution before he even took the car in for service to his local Salt Lake City dealership.

    Unbeknownst to Miller, Mitsubishi placed a lifetime warranty restriction on the engine, clutch and transmission in Miller’s Evo because the company discovered the car had been entered in a Sports Car Club of America autocross event a month earlier.

    Miller said that about two weeks after entering the Evo in the SCCA event he heard bad noises emanating from the engine bay and took the car in for service. “The dealer performed a vehicle service inquiry and I was told there was a restriction placed on my file,” Miller says.

    Bottom line: After entering the car in one SCCA event, Miller was left with a $7,000 bill for repairing two failed connecting rods and a blown turbocharger.

    “Problems related to racing or modifications are not covered under warranty,” says Mitsubishi spokeswoman Janis Little. “Autocrossing, or timed competition, is classified under the warranty terms as racing. It’s difficult for us to know if you’re out there racing, but if there is evidence of racing damage, we’re going to look into it and you may have warranty restrictions placed on certain parts of the vehicle.”

    Most owners recognize that part of the cost of going racing means footing the repair bill when something goes awry. Manufacturer warranties and owner manuals typically specify that harsh use, abuse, non-factory modifications and racing can void all or part of a vehicle’s warranty intended to cover defects in materials or workmanship. Miller’s case, however, raises questions about how the company discovered his autocross involvement.

    The buzz in online communities suggests Mitsubishi is cross matching names from its owner database with SCCA autocross results. Those who turn up on both lists are notified that their vehicle warranties are void, the online chatter claims. Miller says Mitsubishi wasn’t clear on how it learned of his autocrossing.

    Mitsubishi adamantly denies that it uses automated web search systems to look for Evolutions involved in race events. “We don’t have people out there searching websites for names,” says Little.

    No matter how racing involvement comes to the attention of an automaker, companies steadfastly stand by their right to limit warranty coverage—even if the cars they sell are clearly built for speed and marketed with flashy ads and brochures that promote enthusiastic driving. Most automakers say the same thing: Racing, track use, competition and other abuses aren’t covered.

    “When it hits the track, all bets are off,” says Bob Carlson, Porsche Cars of North America spokesman.

    For instance, even though Subaru pops for a one-year SCCA membership for every interested WRX buyer, and in its marketing materials appears to encourage owners to enter their cars in autocross events, the company says autocrossing is racing and racing can void warranty coverage. The WRX/SCCA application form says the SCCA “looks forward to helping you fully experience the benefits of owning this car.” But the form also includes a disclaimer that Subaru’s warranty excludes “damage or failure resulting from participation in competition or racing events.”

    “If the damage looks to be racing related, you’re not going to be covered,” says Subaru spokeswoman Larkin Hill. “We don’t want to punish the person who goes out once in a while and autocrosses—and that shouldn’t cause any problems with the car anyway. However, autocross is considered competition and the warranty does not cover abusive driving or competition. If you’re out there racing every weekend, you can’t expect us to fund it.”

    You’ll hear the same story at DaimlerChrysler Street and Racing Technology, where they make the Dodge SRT-4, the Viper-powered Ram SRT-10 and the supercharged Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6. “Technically, racing damage is not covered under warranty,” says SRT spokesman Dan Bodene. “If a guy autocrosses, submits a problem for warranty and the dealer suspects it is racing related, he’s going to huddle with our technicians to find out. If it is, our dealers are not obligated to cover it under warranty.”

    Chevrolet lures young buyers with the performance promise of its 2005 supercharged Cobalt SS, but the owner’s manual clearly states the warranty does not cover alterations and misuse.

    “Under the misuse heading, such things like running over curbs, improper loading and competition or racing are spelled out specifically,” says Chevy spokesman Mike Stoller. “If there’s a car coming into the dealer that has been racing and that results in damage, and it’s something that is probable or obvious, that would not be something we would be compelled to cover.”

    Internal investigations aren’t limited to auto-crossing, but cover any activity deemed outside normal use, such as track days and plain old aggressive driving.

    “If a guy’s constantly lighting up the tires on the street, that’s not normal wear and tear,” says Chrysler’s Bodene.

    Adds Mitsubishi’s Little: “You’re not going to get black-flagged just for entering an auto-cross, but if something happens we want people to be reasonable and responsible for their own actions. If you go once in a while, just like if you drive hard on the street, who’s going to really know? But if you’re coming in two or three times to replace a blown clutch, we know you’re probably testing your car’s 0-to-60 time.”

    But what about all those manufacturer- and dealer-sponsored “racing” events—track days, club meets and performance driving programs that seem to encourage owners to drive competitively?

    The big difference, companies note, is that manufacturer-sponsored driving programs such as Mazda’s Rev It Up or the Porsche Driving Experience provide cars and instruction, and no owner vehicles are permitted.

    One rare exception is track day events organized, sponsored and sanctioned by the national Ford SVT Owners’ Association and local Ford/SVT dealers. Owners bring their cars, and the association and participating dealers agree to cover any mechanical failures brought on by normal track use.

    “Owners can participate in the instructional days without automatically voiding their warranties,” says Ford Performance Vehicles spokesman Alan Hall. “Obviously if they abuse it [the car] on the track, or there’s a part that breaks due to aggressive driving, that will not be covered under warranty. But your warranty will not be voided across the board by just participating in that event. We don’t automatically void a warranty unless above-normal abuse is shown on a vehicle.”

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  2. thewise1

    thewise1 Guest

    I've said it before on OT, and I'll say it again.

    Relying on a warranty to keep your car on the road = lose.

    Learn to fix it yourself.
     
  3. dmtnt

    dmtnt Friends don't let friends early apex

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    Very true, however what about this example? ->

    I was at Sebring back in March doing a driver's ed event. There was an '03 BMW M3 that was on its 2nd lap (not pushing it hard yet). The motor exploded and send oil & parts all over the track! :eek: Should that be something he should have to fix himself?
     
  4. nateg

    nateg New Member

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    Funny how mitsubishi is involved in this article. :hsugh:
     
  5. thewise1

    thewise1 Guest

    I'm not saying it's right, I'm saying that

    a) warranties = lose
    b) too many people are too afraid to touch their car with a tool
     
  6. cakennedy

    cakennedy Guest

    I wonder how the manufacturers and dealers would handle wear issues from track days? These aren't timed, competitive events, but are just as hard or harder on the car than autocrossing.
     
  7. cakennedy

    cakennedy Guest

    The same thing happened to an acquaintance of mine at Firebird. His was (eventually) covered once BMW owned up to M3 engine failure problems.
     
  8. dmtnt

    dmtnt Friends don't let friends early apex

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    Agreed, especially if you track your car in any way. I wouldn't want anyone else to touch my car anyway.
     
  9. SigmaNuClay

    SigmaNuClay I'll show you my nunchuk...

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    makes sense to me :dunno:
     
  10. 93CivicEX

    93CivicEX Charming, Dashing, Rental car bashing

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    If I'd just paid $50k for a new BMW and it blows to bits, its not a matter of me not wanting to touch my car.

    its a matter of having a $50k paperweight and the manufacturer not standing behind its product enough to even fix shit that should not have broken.

    also, when you pay for a car, you are also paying for someone to fix it for the first 3, 5 or however many years... its not a matter of people being lazy and wanting others to solve their problems its a matter of expecting that when you pay for something you arent going to get any surprises when you show up to collect on it.
     
  11. thewise1

    thewise1 Guest

    :werd:

    Every time someone touches my car besides me, new problems surface, things aren't fixed right, and the cost is ridiculous.
     
  12. 93CivicEX

    93CivicEX Charming, Dashing, Rental car bashing

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    plus with something like a new M3...

    its not a matter of diving in with a socket set and a desire to go slow and do it right.

    if you arent trained to work with the sophisticated electronics and shit that is involved in a newer car....

    blah blah..
     
  13. Nacho

    Nacho Fancy words here.

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    Alot of the newer cars are starting to have proprietary tools that you need to have to work on a car. I think that soon, you'll ONLY be able to have a newer car serviced at a dealership for said car. Sucks, but that's how it's going.

    Gone are the days of the shadetree mechanic being able to fix any and everything that went wrong with his/her car using some know-how and a basic tool set.
     
  14. SaintGRW

    SaintGRW OT Supporter

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    SCCA Membership isn't just for autox, you can do road rally's with it too. :dunno:
     
  15. thewise1

    thewise1 Guest

    Ingenuity > proprietary tools
     
  16. 2DR Vette

    2DR Vette We don't freestyle the Eyes of Texas, Big Boy.

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    BULL FUCKING SHIT.

    I can blow the motor or trans in a car with one shitty shift on an autocross track. I'd bet the repair bill that the dealership would weasle out of that warranty work any way it could.

    Shit, perfect example: soundguy's Rubicon. "Trail Rated", yet pictures of him driving through some mud almost got a $3500 front-axle replacement warranty claim denied. What a load of horseshit...
     
  17. thewise1

    thewise1 Guest

    Meh, people said I couldn't rebuild an auto transmission either.

    I have a hard time believing I'm special or that I have outstanding mechanical ability or something. I see no reason why anyone couldn't do it if they put their mind to it.
     
  18. 2DR Vette

    2DR Vette We don't freestyle the Eyes of Texas, Big Boy.

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    I'm sure they'd balk at that too, saying you had it on a track and were abusing it, jsut as if you'd been doing 0-60-0 runs on teh street.
     
  19. dmtnt

    dmtnt Friends don't let friends early apex

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    If you want to race a car, its unfortunately part of the investment. Going fast = $$$$$'s
     
  20. Section8

    Section8 .

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    Makes me glad that my car has no warranty to worry about being voided :o
     
  21. Nacho

    Nacho Fancy words here.

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    :werd:
     
  22. GrassHopper

    GrassHopper Happiest motherf***er you're EVER gonna meet OT Supporter

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    Some charity BS for knocked-up teen
    I remember when Mitsubishi raided the 3000GT board and sent out a shit list of people to deny transmission claims to.

    :bsflag: on "we don't have people looking for this type of thing"
     
  23. Nacho

    Nacho Fancy words here.

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    Ingenuity = broken parts.

    True story :hsd:

    Hell, you can't even clear a check engine light anymore w/out a scan tool. And most of those are just a quick sensor blip that never clear.
     
  24. thewise1

    thewise1 Guest

    :hsugh:
     
  25. Tony Stark

    Tony Stark John McCain has an illegitimate mexican baby

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    they just want u to stick to the streets that way when u kill someone streetracing...at least you won't haev to bother about getting ur car fixed
     

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