Mechanics

SI/CLUTCH TRANSMISSION PROBLEM

2012 Honda Civic • 10,000 miles

I am leasing a 2012 Honda Civic Si. I taught my fiancee to drive stick on it when we first purchased it. Obviously there was some stalling and bad shifting for like a day but nothing different than anyone learning stick for the first time. Three weeks after having the car and with her driving it perfectly the car started making a grinding when shifting into 4th gear. I figured I would take it in when I was done my Master's Degree semester, dumb I know. Anyway the clutch burn out on the car with only 10,000 miles. The dealership said it was due to driver error. The car was not raced, I do not ride the clutch, I know how to shift, and it only has 10,000 miles. They gave me a price of 2400 which is ridiculous from what I have read and priced with online sites. They never mentioned the grinding in 4th gear which I told them happened well before the clutch went. They said the clutch was definitely driver error and the flywheel was burnt and we definitely damaged it. Now they are avoiding my calls because I asked them u never mentioned the 4th gear issue. I finally get a hold of them and they are saying be patient the transmission needs to be rebuilt. From what I can research it sounds like a synchros problem. Now they are seeing if this will be covered under the warranty. Obviously considering they said we burnt the clutch it looks like we messed up the transmission. I know for a fact this is not the case the clutch was fine and the grinding started in 4th like 3 weeks after we bought the car. I asked them if it was possible that the clutch was not fully disengaging because of the transmission problem and they said No and No repeatedly it would have leaked fluid. My question is is it possible that there was a problem with the transmission which could have burnt the clutch prematurely based on this? They are saying bad shifting led to clutch problem and transmission problem. I know that isn't the case, so I am asking is it possible that the transmission problem led to the clutch burning out prematurely and now it looks like driver error when in fact it was not? Also why would they not diagnose the problem all at once when I told them the car was grinding and why are they avoiding my calls? I feel like they have something to hide, that they wanted to put the clutch going bad on us but now it seems that they may have been mistaken and just do not want to own up to it.
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Mrtecno
April 25, 2013.



There's way too many potential variables and things that could have happened, but I can give you a few ideas to ponder. First of all, Ford had a problem in the '70s with some clutches repeatedly burning up. It was traced to the transmission's bell housing was mounted off-center causing the clutch disc to be forced to slide back and forth sideways a little twice per engine revolution. Two dowel pins locate the transmission to the engine, and they developed a procedure for measuring the center, and they offered offset dowels to correct the centering. I suspect the clue would be the clutch area would feel and / or smell hot after an extended drive on the highway with no shifting.

I worked for a very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership through the '90s and I can tell you how they would handle this. My guess is most dealerships do something similar. The dealer is bound by their franchise agreement to what they can and can't do for warranty repairs. Manual transmission clutches are almost always considered wear items, just like brake linings, and you will have a hard time getting them covered under warranty. Both of those are fairly forgiving, especially on a small lightweight car, and we rarely see problems even from people just learning how to drive a stick. Even if you were able to seriously overheat the clutch, that is not going to cause the grinding in fourth gear. I've ridden with a few people who do a miserable job with a clutch, but they don't seem to run into wear problems. You will not overheat it from excessive slipping to get the car moving. Sure it may get hot but that slippage lasts only a few seconds.

When you have a problem the dealer can't or won't help with, again, with Chrysler, you can request a meeting with the district representative. Most of the time the guys at my dealership were the ones who brought that up, and they will set up the appointment. The rep. Visits every dealership once a month to handle things the dealer can't. He has the authority to warranty stuff well beyond the mileage and time warranty. In my case, he even offered to warranty the battery in my Dynasty after the car had been in storage for five years since I bought it new. They won't warranty tires at all. That is handled by the tire manufacturer. You will help your case by having as much paperwork as possible to document the problem. The dealership typically keeps a folder with a copy of everything that takes place there related to your car. Remember that this will all be new to the rep. So try to have everything laid out in order. Keep the emotion out of it too. You can be firm but be polite and considerate. The guy takes his work home with him, and it is his job to try to make you happy. Remember too that the dealer is your advocate, not your adversary. If they knew they would be reimbursed for repairing the car under warranty they would jump at the chance to do it. They are refusing to do that now because they know the manufacturer won't pay for it. That is legitimate too on Honda's part. There are people who will trash a car, then smirk when they take it in for warranty repairs. You should hear them cry and scream when they find out abuse isn't covered and they just cost themselves a lot of money. One guy even drained the oil out of his engine twice. The manufacturer did replace it the first time. The owner thought he was going to get his money back under our "lemon law" but GM had different ideas.

I don't know if this applies to all manufacturers, but in the '80s and '90s Chrysler dealers were given an allowance to use toward out-of-warranty repairs at their discretion. If the car came with a basic 12 month / 12,000 mile warranty, they could use those dollars up to 18 months and 18,000 miles without prior approval from Chrysler. Those funds were limited so they only used them for good or repeat customers, and for hardship cases where they were trying to build goodwill. According to a national, independent trainer, Hyundai, Toyota, and Chrysler are the top manufacturers when it comes to customer-friendly business practices. One of our other "Big Three" is way down at the bottom of that list. I don't know where Ford and Honda would be but the imports are usually pretty willing to do whatever it takes to solve your problem.

If there is no district representative who visits each dealership, there will be some type of Resolution Department listed in your owner's manual. Again, no one will be inclined to want to help you if you're screaming at them. I don't know if you would need to write a letter or if there's someplace to go to on the internet but I'm fairly confident there is going to be someone there to help.

The mechanic working on your car doesn't care who is paying the bill and he likely won't even know. His job is to determine which parts are needed, then he tells the service adviser. It's up the service adviser to get approval to do the repairs and get the car scheduled. Once the repairs are completed satisfactorily, some treats a few days later are always appreciated. We had a lot of happy customers bringing us donuts and cookies. (Chocolate chip are always preferred)!

Caradiodoc
Apr 26, 2013.
I agree with pretty much everything you said caradiodoc, EXCEPT. "The mechanic working on your car doesn't care who is paying the bill and he likely won't even know." - Absolutely not. In fact, my manager told me the other day, whenever your doing a repair always ask yourself "Who's paying for this?". A technician (at least a Honda Tech, I know because I am one.) Will definitely know whether a big job, like a Transmission/Clutch Replacement is Warranty or Customer Pay. There will be a big difference in pay.

Most technicians are paid on a flat rate system. They will be a lot happier if they have more time to do the job (A.K.A customer pay) whereas if it's Warranty Pay they may try and fly through the job a little faster. Maybe miss a bolt here or there, not torque this fastener there. Hint. Hint. Not saying there's anything right about, just giving the reality of the situation.

Tiny
JamesB1985
Jul 15, 2013.
A lot of repairs can't be considered for warranty pay until the cause and solution are known, and then the mechanic has no involvement in that paperwork or decision-making. The service adviser is the first person who will try to get something covered under warranty but he often has to collaborate with the dealer's warranty administrator. Even when something is technically out-of-warranty, Chrysler dealers are given a specific number of dollars each year they can use to pay for repairs that really shouldn't have happened. It's a customer satisfaction program and the dealer has the discretion on when to use those dollars.

Honda dealers may be different but as a Chrysler mechanic I preferred warranty work. If I wanted to install additional parts to insure the quality of the repair, there was no customer to argue with. It's true flat rate for warranty work pays less than customer-pay but the difference is not that significant. I was paid two tenths of an hour less for a 4-wheel alignment under warranty but it was extremely rare that two wheels needed adjustment. For that slightly higher customer-pay the vehicle usually needed both front wheels and at least one rear one adjusted and that took a lot longer. With cars still in warranty rusty nuts and bolts were never a problem. The vehicle must leave in like-new condition. If an exhaust system part needed to be replaced the whole welded system was installed. When it was out-of-warranty I had to cut off that part, then fit and align the new part. The total repair took longer even though fewer parts were replaced.

With warranty work we also never needed to wait for approval to go ahead with the repairs. When customers couldn't be reached to approve out-of-warranty repairs I sometimes had to push their cars outside so I could start other jobs while waiting for that approval. Pushing cars around is non-productive work that gets billed to no one and it doesn't show up on your paycheck.

Even when a repair was paid for by Chrysler, that had no impact on my paycheck. I was paid the same hourly rate either way. It was the dealer that was reimbursed at a lower rate. That simply cut away a small part of the profit the dealership earned.

You might try to "fly through a job faster" when it's warranty but the nice thing about flat rate is when you mess something up and have to do it over again, you do it for free. You lose twice because you're doing the second attempt for no pay, AND you can't bring in the next job and start it until the first problem you caused is fixed. The dealership loses because they have lost those hours of your productivity that they can't bill anyone for. They also lose the car owner's confidence and that person is likely to never come back. The customer loses because they're without their car, and they often become angry when they have to take off from work, ... Again, ... To have you fix your mistake. I was very lucky that the dealership owners I worked for never once in ten years expressed the slightest concern that I worked slower than everyone else. It wasn't until a few years after I left that the office manager told me they appreciated that I took the time to make sure my alignments and brake jobs were done to the highest professional standards. I also found out later that I had been rewarded with larger hourly pay raises than all the other mechanics even though I booked fewer hours than the other guys. Those are the checks and balances of the flat rate system. There is also no reason to think you're earning less money doing warranty work. The exception would be if the dealer is paying you a lower hourly rate for that work. We have one dealership owner in my city who pulls that on his mechanics so, yes, they DO have an incentive to cut corners or race through a job. I can't speak for all Chrysler dealers but mine never paid me less for a job based on who was paying the bill. You're right about knowing up front if it was warranty or customer pay because it was listed on the repair order, but that often got changed later and I would never be so arrogant as to think anyone was going to consult me about those changes. I just did the work.

As for "who is paying for this", you do need to be careful and respectful of customers' costs but ultimately it is the customer who always pays and they deserve your very best service. The cost of warranty repairs is built into the cost of the car they purchased just like they purchased tires, a running engine, and working light bulbs. To provide substandard service because the car owner is simply collecting on what he rightfully paid for is equivalent to ripping him off, and your service manager should have it explained that way to him. My dealership owners have four dealerships in four cities and all of them are swamped with repeat customers thanks to their customer-friendly business practices and the support they get from Chrysler. I heard similar stories from other mechanics at the Chrysler schools I attended. I can say the same thing about a number of new and used car dealers in my city. I don't know your service manager and I shouldn't assume anything based on one comment, but I get the impression he is of the same mentality as the half dozen dealerships owned in my city by the one rather disreputable owner. That guy squeezes every last penny out of each customer while he has the chance because he knows there's a good chance they're never coming back, and he looks for ways to justify paying his employees less. There is a lot of frustration, high employee turnover, and very little repeat business.

I also don't know the context of the conversation when your manager made that comment so I could be reading way too much into it. Regardless, as professionals, we all should be providing the best service possible on every job, and worry about that first. How we get paid should be a long way down that list of priorities, and how well you do the work should not be impacted by who is paying the dealership for your services. If your paycheck is your top priority, the quality of your work is not.

Caradiodoc
Jul 16, 2013.