Isa car dealership liable if they misdiagnosed a problem while a vehicle was under warranty but found the cause after the warranty expired?

I purchased a car from out of state with 80k miles on it in 2008. Upon delivery of vehicle I took it into the local dealership to check out a slight rattle in the car while accelerating. They couldn’t find the cause of the rattle but assured me it wasn’t an engine problem, and the vehicle was fine. Throughout the years the same dealership has been servicing my vehicle. Last week they found that a bad torque converter was the cause of the rattle but it’s now at 104k miles and out of warranty. A service bulletin was put out in 2005 for that exact symptom and cause. Are they liable?

Asked on September 21, 2010 under General Practice, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Whether or not they will be found to be liable for the problem is unclear.  What I assume an attorney in your area will argue is that they knew or should have known about the service bulletin as an authorized dealer and that they had you car under continuous care from the time that you purchased it and complained until the problem finally became apparent to the mechanic.  I would try and make the case for you in that regard, but it may be a question of cost at this point in time and really a "business" decision.  In other words, is it worth fighting based upon time and finances?  That is a decision only you can make.  It is going to be a big fight, and the manufacturer will most likely not honor the warranty.  It may be a suit against the dealer to fix the problem for free. Good luck.

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