Boy, they must be rather proud of that clamp!
I suspect what they are referring to is a counterweight that is bolted to the exhaust system to dampen a vibration. That is fairly common on some transmissions, some drive axles, some steering wheels, and even some exhaust systems. Those types of vibrations occur at a specific frequency called a harmonic, or a resonant vibration. Think of a grandfather clock pendulum. It takes very little energy to keep it swinging at its natural frequency. You would have to use a lot of energy to make it swing faster or slower. In the absence of that extra energy, there just won't be a noticeable vibration.
The first thing you should consider is searching for what the service bulletin involves. (Recalls are for safety or emissions-related items. Service bulletins are for known fixes to save mechanics from each having to diagnose what someone else already figured out). Once you know which parts are required you might find one on a smashed car in the salvage yard or you might be able to order it through another dealer.
By the way, it might not be a counterweight as I mentioned. It might be some type of exhaust hanger that is redesigned to reduce some vibration, but for $1500.00 you could replace most exhaust systems twice, hangers, clamps, and all!
Another plan would be to speak with the district representative. I can only share how this works with Chrysler but I suspect most other manufacturers have a similar procedure. The Chrysler rep. Visits each dealership once a month specifically to handle any problems the dealer can't. The dealers are bound by their agreements with the manufacturer and have to follow certain rules. Much of that is for liability reasons. That's why they only use factory parts when the car is in warranty and they aren't allowed to modify anything unless it's a factory-approved modification. The district rep. DOES have the authority to approve repairs and other solutions that the dealer can't.
Chrysler dealers also have a set number of dollars per year they can "give away" from the manufacturer that gives them the discretion to extend a vehicle's warranty and Chrysler will cover it. The dealers typically use that for their regular / good customers or when they feel the problem deserves to be handled under warranty but technically it's too late. Remember, they're talking to a computer when they file the warranty claims and there's no arguing with a computer when it comes to technicalities.
I would start by asking at your dealership if there is such a representative who you could meet with. Explain that you understand that your car is out of warranty so they can't fix it for free, but that the manufacturer may be able to help. You must remember that they want you back in the future to buy another car. Every dealer knows it takes less advertising dollars to keep ten current customers happy than to attract one new one. No dealer wants you to be unhappy with your car or their service so they should be considered your advocate, not adversary with this problem. GM is the glaring exception when it comes to customer satisfaction. Other manufacturers will at least try to help.
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Thursday, April 21st, 2011 AT 6:34 AM