The Ten Worst Warrantied Car Repair Horror Stories

A car bought with a warranty can offer great peace of mind... or so you might have thought. Here are ten horror stories that will make you want to do the repairs yourself.


10.) Eighty Mile Joyride In A Subaru

The Ten Worst Warrantied Car Repair Horror Stories

Reader .jdb. brought in his Subaru Outback for issues with its transmission, and it came back covered in snow with another eighty miles on the clock. There is a silver lining here, which comes in the form of an Executive Email Carpet Bomb.

"Bought a 2009 Subaru Outback Sport brand new in June of '09. It was GREAT. It had AWD (I lived in the frozen North) and manual, lots of room for stuff. Loved it. In February of 2010, everything went to hell. I was leaving for work early one morning and started to back out of the garage. Instead of, you know, moving, the back of the car sort of lifted, like I still had the emergency brake on. So I thought "that's weird". I didn't have the brake on. I tried again. It hesitated for a moment then moved. I wondered if maybe there was rust on the rotors or something... whatever. I had to get to work. It was OK.... then there were a few more hitches and pops. So I said "Nope. Not going to work like this." Took it to the dealer. They gave me a loaner and were really nice about it. A couple days later, they said that a clip had broken in the center diff. The central shaft had developed a wiggle, the gears had been chewed up, and the whole thing would need to be replaced. It would be about a week. And about 9 days later, I took the loaner back, got in my car and... it didn't sound right. The transmission was making a sound like reverse in the forward gears. So...not good.

I called and asked if there was some sort of "break in noise" and they said "bring it back in." Turned around, got another loaner... The next day, they called me back. Basically metal from the center diff had gotten into the transmission and the whole thing would need to be rebuilt (note: Not a new transmission, let's just rebuild this old one that had metal shavings in it.). After some back-and forth about that, and a few missed deadlines, and almost 3 weeks without my car, I got the call that it was ready. I took my loaner in. I was tired of driving loaners. I wanted my car back. I went to the shop to pick it up.

There was no "We're really sorry about this." There was no detailed rundown of what the problems were, why it took so long. There was just "OK, Mr. .jdb. Here you go. It's out back." And there it was. I trudged out back, through the slush. My car was covered in snow. I got in, a little irritated - I mean, they could have at least scraped the windshield after all that - and cranked the engine.

The fuel light came on.

Now ... in the general scheme of things, it wasn't a HUGE deal. Their explanation for putting 80 miles on the car (!!) while it was in their care was that they took a long drive with it to make ABSOLUTELY sure that the transmission wasn't making any sorts of noises. But that was the last straw.

I put together an EECB (executive e-mail carpet-bomb, check Consumerist!) that explained the problems, the run-around, the frustrations I'd had. I e-mailed VPs at Subaru. I e-mailed the service manager. I e-mailed the owner of the dealership. If they sounded important at Subaru, they got a copy. And it worked. I got a call from Subaru corporate, and I ended up with a $100 deductible service plan for the car up to 100,000 miles for free. Plus a free detail and a tank of gas from the dealership. So at the end of the day, this was a long and frustrating experience, but Subaru took care of me, and I came out of it satisfied."

Suggested By: .jdb., Photo Credit: contri


9.) Take Pictures First

The Ten Worst Warrantied Car Repair Horror Stories

It's probably a good idea to take pictures of your car before you bring it to the dealer for work as —Wacko— found out with his Mazda Protoge5

"In 2003 i bought a new 2003 protegé5, paid over 500 to get the rust proofing from the dealer. In less than a year rust popped up everywhere, The worst was where the side skirts touch the car. So since it was under warranty, bring my car back to the dealer, and as expected they re-spray the car where the rust was. But ... when they took off the side skirts, they scratched the hell out of them, and re-installed them like that.

I go to pick up my car, take a look, and the first thing I see is all the scratches. so I refused that job, and got them to redo the skirts. Well another week passed, go back to the dealer to pick up my car, this time the side skirts where fine, but now they scratched the car when they took off the side skirts, so once again, I refuse the their work.

Another week passed, go back to the dealer once again, and once again scratches on the side skirts, and body. this time I was fed-up. I went to the manager, showed him the bad work and told him. You see my face, cause this is the last time you will ever see it at any of your dealers( they have Mazda, ford and VW). I made a complaint to mazda canada, Mazda just responded, that I have to talk to the local manager, even If I told them I don't want to speak to him, and I was asking Mazda's help."

Suggested By: —Wacko—, Photo Credit: Jalopnik


8.) The Saga Of The MazdaSpeed6

The Ten Worst Warrantied Car Repair Horror Stories

Always take your MazdaSpeed car to an authorized dealer, and make sure that they're actually authorized. Let cabarnett tell you of the saga of his MazdaSpeed6

"I own an '07 Mazdaspeed6. Driving cross-country a few years ago, it sucked up some water in Dallas and fried the MAF. It was about 4am and I had been on the road for 19 hours, so I limped it to a hotel and slept. Next morning, called a few dealers to find one that was open / could work on my car. "Sure, no problem! We can fix those!" Get my car towed there, and wait a few HOURS for them to replace a MAF sensor. Hit the road, get about an hour and a half outside of Dallas, when the CEL comes on and I lose all power. Car goes into limp home mode. Find the nearest Mazda dealer and limp it there. Tough luck, they don't work on Speeds. Nearest Speed dealer is back in Dallas, next closest is in Jackson, MS (my destination). Find an Autozone, get them to reset my CEL (which gets it out of limp home mode). Disconnect MAF and air intake. As long as I stay off boost, the car doesn't realize anything is wrong. This means shifting at 2500 RPM and keeping it below about 55 mph on the freeway. Eventually make it to Jackson. Go straight to the dealer. They drove me to my parents, tell me they'll call in the morning.

Next day I get a call. "Did you have the MAF sensor replaced recently?" Of course I did. "Where?" they ask. Turns out, the "Speed authorized" Mazda dealer somehow put a Toyota MAF sensor on. Not even sure how that's possible. A couple emails later with some higher-ups at Mazda, and it turns out the dealer I took it to is NOT Speed authorized, and shouldn't have even touched my car. All I get was a "We're sorry" from Mazda corporate.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago: I let my parents borrow my car for a week while I go to Ohio. Come back to find the shift linkage snapped. Parents claim ignorance. Tow the car to a "Speed Authorized" dealer. Luckily they pick up the tab on a rental, and tell me the car will be ready in 2 days. 5 days later I get a call, saying the part finally came in and they're ready to install it. $1800 and 4 days later, I get a call saying it's ready to be picked up. Get in my car, instantly notice that the chrome ring around one of the AC control knobs is missing, my compass on my mirror no longer works, my car is idling weird, XM radio won't pick up a signal, half the gauges are dead, and it's now having more shifting issues. Told them I refuse to accept it, and pointed out what was wrong. "It came in here like that." Uhhh... no.

A week later I get a call that it's ready. New ring is on the AC knob (no idea how they managed to lose the old one), radio antennae is plugged back in, gauge cluster is plugged in correctly, and mirror is plugged back in. They basically forgot to put half the shit together. Go for a test drive, still having weird shift issues. Dealer tells me it shifted like normal on their test drives. I tell them to drive it again, and hop back in the rental. Three days later I get a call, "can't replicate the issue." By now, I have to be on the road to get back to Arizona. I come by. They've put about a half mile on the car in the 3 days they've had it. I don't have time to deal with it, so I reluctantly take it and head off to AZ.

Car is sitting in the parking garage right now, and I've been riding my bicycle because of the shifting issues. Most of the time the clutch won't fully disengage (foot on the floor, it'll creep forward). This is especially fun when you go to shift. Clutch won't fully disengage, so you can't get it into the next gear — effectively getting stuck in neutral in traffic. Speaking of getting stuck out of gears, the new shift linkage doesn't feel very new. There's a terrible bind that wasn't there before. So even when it does go into gear, you have to force it at a weird angle to get it through the gate. On top of that, they managed to bugger up the reverse lockout sensor (at least that's what I think is wrong). Because of this, if the car is on you can't get into or out of reverse. So whenever I want to park, I have to turn my car off, put it in reverse, and turn my car back on. Because of the clutch issue, when I turn my car on while in gear (especially bad in reverse because of its low gearing), the car immediately starts moving.

Oh, and I've got another new problem after visiting that dealer — every now and then I hit a bump just right, and my car just about dies. Gauges die, radio cuts off, and engine just about stalls. I then get a whole group of fun CELs ranging from: Lost communication with ABS, lost communication with ECU, lost communication with gauge cluster, and a whole slew of sensor-based codes. The CEL will go away after a full drive cycle, but while it's on my car won't idle. Meaning I'm sitting at traffic lights constantly revving it at 1500-2000 RPM just to keep it from dying.

Haven't had time to take care of it yet, but kind of afraid to. Nearest Speed dealer is in Phoenix, and they'll probably want to charge me an arm and a leg for stuff the other dealer broke. Probably going to have to send emails to corporate."

Suggested By: cabarnett, Photo Credit: sylvar


7.) Make Sure Your Warranty Is Registered

The Ten Worst Warrantied Car Repair Horror Stories

Green Pig was charged for an extended warranty, but it was never registered. That proved to be a bit of a problem

"I bought a used 1983 Escort from a Toyota dealership in NJ (don't judge, I was young and stupid) and also bought the extended warranty (again, don't judge - the dealer implied that it was mandatory.)

When it came time to actually used the extended warranty a few years later, I discovered that the dealer CHARGED me for the extended warranty, but never registered it with the provider. I was looking at the possibility of being out $500 for the cost of the extended warranty AND paying $300-$400 for the repair.

I made multiple phone calls to the dealer, first to the salesman who sold me the car, then the used car manager, then finally to the business manager, all of whom spoke to me in a rude and dismissive manner. When I showed up at the dealership (I had to take a bus to get there) the sales manager threatened to call the cops if I didn't leave, and then informed me they were going to start charging storage on the Escort if I did not pay for the repairs out of pocket immediately.

A phone call from my then-best friend's brother, who was a county prosecutor, magically resolved everything within 20 minutes. Repairs to my car was finished by the end of the day, gratis. They even washed it for me and dropped it off at my front door.

That was the last time I let that dealer anywhere near my car, I used a local mechanic for any other service on the car after that."

Suggested by: Green Pig, Photo Credit: Ford


6.) Lexus RX350 Transmission Has Mind Of Its Own

The Ten Worst Warrantied Car Repair Horror Stories

World, meet your new overlords – robots made from Lexus RX350 transmissions, which are HAL 9000 incarnate. Apparently they have minds of their own, a startling thing learned by damthisburnershitsux while fixing his wife's RX350.

"My wife's RX350 CPO had a weird thing with the transmission where if you were coasting for a 5 second or so in the right conditions when you applied the gas it would do nothing for 2 seconds and then wham it would jump forward. Had to bring it in again and again, they told me it was probably something the transmission had "learned" from prior life as a loaner and "reset" the memory several times. They told me it was the way the transmission was supposed to work. At one point (fourth visit) I was driving the tech around a parking lot to try and get the car to exhibit the behavior, when it finally did I said to the tech, "do you feel that, did you hear that, do you see what I'm talking about?" and the tech deadpanned "I didn't notice anything". Finally in the end I think they replaced the torque converter or something like that in the transmission after we threatened to go lemon law on them and the problem went away. If we hadn't dogged them on it though they were more than happy to push it off as a non-problem until after the warranty ended. Anytime you're dealing with an intermittent problem that you have to reproduce for the dealer they will try to push you off, very frustrating."

Suggested By: damthisburnershitsux, Photo Credit: Kārlis Dambrāns


5.) Because British

The Ten Worst Warrantied Car Repair Horror Stories

You might have thought that the days of unreliable British cars are gone. Wrong. Just let Gatsby's Ghost tell you about a 2008 Jaguar XK.

"My dad has a 2008 Jag XK. He bought it with a souped-up CPO warranty that covered everything except consumables—clutch, tires, brakes, seals, etc.—for like 10 yrs. / 75,000 miles. One day, my stepmother was driving the car and found that a huge amount of water was leaking into the driver's side footwell, making a huge puddle as she drove along.

My father brought the Jag to the dealer to see if they could find the problem, and as it turns out the problem was with a rubber seal. the good news is that the seal only cost about $10 to replace. The bad news is that, because seals qualify as "consumable" parts (and because Jaguar is British and therefore put this seal somewhere deep within the dash assembly, and thereby made it impossibly hard to reach), the replacement was not covered under warranty. So this failed $10 part cost an additional $1200 in labor to replace."

Suggested By: Gatsby's Ghost, Photo Credit: Camille King


4.) M3 Wheel Repair Leads To New Engine

The Ten Worst Warrantied Car Repair Horror Stories

Reader Battery Tender Unnecessary brought in his E46 M3 for a simple rim repair. He left with a fixed rim and a new engine.

"New E46 M3 engine after a wheel repair. I took my 2002 M3 to a local BMW dealer to fix a factory defect in the rim paint (chrome shadow was notorious for inconsistencies) in the summer of 2002. It was a SMG (I know) with only 8k miles. I left it in the softest transmission setting (A1) and when I picked it up it was in M5 (the highest without turning off TC) and the engine had a loud tick. Long story short, he had spun a bearing. The S54 had a issue at the factory where they installed the wrong size bearing for a couple months. Most were replaced before anything bad happened but if you drove it 'spiritedly' (banged off the limiter/abused it) then it would spin the bearings, requiring a new engine. The tech had "tested" the new rim 'spiritedly.'"

Suggested By: Battery Tender Unnecessary, Photo Credit: KingS lam


3.) Smart Car, Idiotic Technician

The Ten Worst Warrantied Car Repair Horror Stories

With a name like Smart Car you'd think the dealer would hire some smart technicians to work on the cars, but apparently not as Neon – Smart Aficionado found out.

"My first ever warranty service: Less than 100 miles after taking delivery.

Somebody ignored steering wheel alignment during the Pre-Delivery Inspection, so when I took delivery of my brand new car, the steering wheel was as far off centre as an old U-Haul truck.

I took it back that same week, only for the dealer to make it worse. Some bright tech decided it would be a great idea to simply detach the steering wheel, put it back on straight, and send me on my way.

Of course, he didn't centre the wheels before doing that, so when I got my car back, the steering was so far off it looked like I was making a full lock turn...only that I was driving straight...

My car ended up getting a full 4 wheel alignment on MB's wonderful(ly expensive) alignment machine, in which they tried to charge me for...Up until I showed them where my car with 500 miles on it, still had 11,500 miles of alignment coverage.

The alignment got my wheel mostly straight, but thanks to the original mistake by the first idiot tech (taking the wheel off), my steering wheel will never actually be straight.

And don't get me started about my side skirt, engine temperature, and other services that were rejected!

Mercedes Benz, top quality warranty service."

Suggested By: Neon – Smart Aficionado, Photo Credit: Norio NAKAYAMA


2.) Hyundai Dealer Doesn't Believe Women

The Ten Worst Warrantied Car Repair Horror Stories

The Hyundai dealer where MonkeyPuzzle brought his car wouldn't listen to his wife when she brought in the car – it was only fixed when he brought it in. Yikes.

"Remember that 100,000 mile 10 year thing, you know, the only reason you buy the slanted H instead of a legit Honda?

Wife took it in because it made a clearly metal on metal sound into third. Test drive no issue found, so do the free oil change but not the included car wash and vacuum we paid for upon purchase. Rinse repeat two more times. Then I sent her with a note with technical words hoping that would help. Rinse repeat, still no issue found, still failed to do all the maintenance we paid for.

Finally I took it in 'yes sir, failing synchro, I'll check that out, yeah is sure makes a sound, we'll fix that today. you were right, the synchro was toast, thanks for bringing that in or it could have caused bigger issues!' I was enraged!"

Suggested By: MonkeyPuzzle, Photo Credit: Hyundai


1.) The Most British Car Repair Ever

The Ten Worst Warrantied Car Repair Horror Stories

I have no words for this one. Just let EbbenFlow tell the story.

"I was driving on the freeway in '68 Cortina GT one time while it was still on warranty and no hands of mine had gotten involved in the wiring when all of a sudden, the ammeter pegged negative and billows of acrid burnt wire smoke started coming out from underneath the dash near the ignition switch.

In a panic to try to avoid the whole car going up in flames, I foolishly reached underneath, felt around for the hot spot, grabbed a handful and yanked. The ammeter centered, the smoke stopped, the car stopped and my hand was severely burned. I picked melted plastic out of it for days.

The GT was towed to the local dealer for repairs under warranty while I waited for a fresh full interior wiring harness to come from England - that took three months, then another two weeks for the install.

When I got it back, I noticed that if I used the horn with the turn signals active, the horn would honk on/off...it was wired thru the flasher. Not something it did before the meltdown, so...

I took it back to the dealer, and they accused me of mucking with it. I told them to stuff it and there was no way I'd let them make it worse yet again - I took the car home, and made an entire wiring harness by hand. Car was fine after that, but to this day, I can still imagine that smell. It was a mix of molten copper, lead, plastic, aluminum and human flesh.

After the warranty, I ended up putting a 2 liter Pinto motor in that car and used it to kick BMW 2002 ass over and over and over."

Suggested By: EbbenFlow, Photo Credit: allen watkin

Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

Top Photo Credit: Getty Images