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)!
Friday, April 26th, 2013 AT 1:41 AM