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  1. #1
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    Sep 2020
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    Default Factory Warranty Denial

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of Florida. Our 2019 Highlander is still under factory warranty. We owned it for two weeks, then the check engine light came on. Toyota says that water ingestion likely caused a bent rod, and if so, it’s an “outside influence” not covered under warranty. There is zero evidence of water intrusion, and our comprehensive insurance claim was denied as such. Toyota informed us today that a bent rod automatically results in a warranty denial, because only water or fluid intrusion causes a bent rod. It’s kind of a res ipsa theory; a bent rod speaks for itself that water intrusion occurred. Surely, that’s not enough to legally justify a refusal of warranty coverage. If challenged and given these facts, what must a dealer show to prove that engine damage was caused by an outside influence?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    8,209

    Default Re: Factory Warranty Denial

    Quote Quoting Brent89
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    If challenged and given these facts, what must a dealer show to prove that engine damage was caused by an outside influence?
    The warranty for new cars is provided by the manufacturer, not the dealer. So you'd sue Toyota, not the dealer. And should you sue, the burden is on you to prove to the judge or jury by a preponderance of the evidence that the manufacturer was obligated under the warranty to repair the rod. In other words, if the issue at trial is whether the damage was caused by an outside influence the winner in the case is the one who does a slightly better job of persuading the judge or jury that it either was or was not caused by an outside influence. That's probably going to take expert testimony by each side on what likely caused the damage. And experts can get expensive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    18,241

    Default Re: Factory Warranty Denial

    Brent89, before start spending money on lawyers and experts check out the National Center for Dispute Settlement.

    https://www.ncdsusa.org/consumers/au...anty-disputes/

    Note the Toyota brochure link on the right side of the page.

    Your warranty probably requires arbitration anyway.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Factory Warranty Denial

    Thank you. Yes, I meant to say manufacturer, not dealer. I do understand that distinction with respect to the warranty, although there may be separate claims against the dealer for issues related to its certified preowned inspection and misrepresentations In the transaction. I thought I remembered a Magnuson-Moss case that involved a BMW under warranty that had an issue that the manufacturer said was caused by the consumer, and the court required BMW to support that defense by a POE; BMW couldn’t just rely on its bare assertion that the issue could only have been caused by the consumer. It actually had to prove that the consumer caused the damage. Also, I believe that a manufacturer when defending a warranty claim based on an aftermarket part must prove a connection between the aftermarket part and the issue rather than just showing that an aftermarket part was used, therefore there’s no warranty.

    Thanks for the link. There is indeed an arbitration agreement. Very much trying not to get that far because of the extended time without the vehicle.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    7,037

    Default Re: Factory Warranty Denial

    What you describe is hydrolock where fluid (that is not compressible) enters a cylinder. That can be caused by a catastrophic failure of the head gasket where coolant enters the cylinder or a malfunctioning fuel injector. That is not something that is caused by the consumer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
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    8

    Default Re: Factory Warranty Denial

    Wouldn’t head gasket failure cause the engine not to run and/or affect more than one cylinder?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    7,037

    Default Re: Factory Warranty Denial

    Not at all. A head gasket can blow and effect only one cylinder. Two fluids pass through the head gasket, coolant and oil. If the gasket blows through and lets the fluids enter the cylinder then only one cylinder is affected. The whole gasket doesn't blow out all at once (if ever). It may only effect one cylinder. And depending on the severity of the leak, it may not be detected for some time. The engine will still run but you will be burning coolant or oil in that cylinder.

    If the car stands for some period of time you might get sufficient fluid in one of the cylinders to hydrolock the cylinder and bend a connecting rod when the car is started.

    Google Hydrolock form a blown head gasket. There are plenty of articles.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Factory Warranty Denial

    Thanks for the information. I hadn't figured I'd get technical advice when I was looking for warranty information, but I do appreciate it. I'll Google the topic as you suggest.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    3,666

    Default Re: Factory Warranty Denial

    Did you run your vehicle through a flooded street or standing water?

    What aftermarket engine/performance parts, if any do you have installed?

    Specifically, do you have an aftermarket air filter?

    Why is it that the dealer thought that water got into the cylinders?

    Did the dealer open the engine up and discover water/coolant inside?

    Like budwad stated, hydrolock can happen with coolant, but if the dealer opened the engine, and there is enough of the fluid still in the cylinder, they would be able to tell the difference between the two. Toyota uses red/pink coolant.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.......

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Factory Warranty Denial

    Did you run your vehicle through a flooded street or standing water?

    No. We owned the car for two weeks and drove in ordinary rain. No deep puddles.

    What aftermarket engine/performance parts, if any do you have installed?

    None.

    Specifically, do you have an aftermarket air filter?

    No.

    Why is it that the dealer thought that water got into the cylinders?

    Basically, because they suspect a bent rod, and in Toyota’s view, only water ingestion will cause that.

    Did the dealer open the engine up and discover water/coolant inside?

    No. Dealer is going by low compression on one cylinder, lower cylinder stroke by 2-4mm, and leak down check.

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