2004 GMC Sonoma radiator fluid

  • 2004 GMC SONOMA
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • 50,000 MILES
I have the dexcool stuff in my sonoma and while having my oil changed the tech showed me that my radiator and overflow container had some sludge in it. His assement was that the coolant had failed should be replaced. I am told that GM states that the dex cool is good for 5/6 years or 100k miles. When I approached the dealer I was told that the fluid did need to be changed but it would cost me. I argued that it shoud be covered under warranty as I am not at the limits allowed. They told me that the 5/6 year 100k is for ideal driving conditions.
I told them that is fine, but I was only half way to 5 years and half way to 100k.
So I am interested in thoughts on this, plus any ideas as to what ideal driving conditions are and how would one go about proving that?
Do you
have the same problem?
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008 AT 1:34 PM

1 Reply

There are two ways to go about this, and you'll need to be prepared for both. Please realize that this has more to do with legality and rhetoric than being a mechanic.

First off, is this warranty on the coolant or from the dealership? I'm assuming that your 2004 is covered under the dealer warranty for repairs, which is where this issue came up.

In any case, the mechanics are making a circular argument (at least from your testimony): the coolant failed because of non-ideal driving conditions, but their proof is the failed coolant. This proves nothing on its face since it is only an assumption--and one that they've used to pin the burden of proof on you, i.E. The coolant is fine (but it failed) ergo *your driving* must be the problem. They're assuming that the coolant is fine, which is where you make the counter argument.

If I were going after this problem, I would need to know 1) who put this coolant in your tank, 2) can the quality of this source be verified, 3) is it possible that anyone in the maintenance chain mixed another batch of coolant or too much water with it, and 4) the exact details of the warranty. In other words, all the aspects of the coolant that clearly fall under the dealer's responsibilities. Put them on the defensive and put the argument on your turf. While you're fending accusations you're still playing their game by their rules. It is just as likely (if not more than likely) that this is the result of shoddy maintenance on the dealer end.

Don't hesitate to paint a good picture of yourself at the same time. In all honesty, you're a trusting consumer who is relying on your contractual obligations. This contract ensures more than good vehicle maintenance, it is also supposed to alleviate the burden of mechanical stress!

As for the driving itself, environment might play a factor if you live in a particularly harsh environment or were using the Sonoma for particularly hard labor. Even so, a contract assuming ideal conditions without expressly stating so can be disputed. No driving condition is ideal (and more importantly, where would such a condition exist outside of a lab?). Most labels that I've seen assume "normal" driving conditions (a statistical average of factors) as opposed to "ideal" which is far more assumptive. This last issue might need to be taken up with the coolant production company as opposed to the dealer though.

On your end, make sure that you've been using the truck within the language of your warranty and that if questioned, there is no unusual pattern for wear-and-tear in your driving. In the meantime, I would have a legal expert and a mechanic glance at what your vehicle warranty schedule covers to see where the cooling system (and by extension, coolant--the lifeblood) fits in.
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Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 AT 11:34 AM

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