Giammalvo Files
Mark Giammalvo

Mark Giammalvo specializes in driveability diagnostics at his family business, Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service, Inc. in New Bedford, MA.   

Mark, who has been with the business for over 20 years, is an ASE  Master Technician and Parts Specialist. He also holds the ASE L1 certification, and has an associates degree in business management.
Mark is also a writer for Motor Age Magazine and is the past secretary of the Alliance of Automotive Service Professionals, (AASP).

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Whats Really Covered?

(Printed in the Journal of The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, AASP) 

It all began while recently checking the shop's email from home.  I came across an email that was positive, yet confusing:

"Dear Sam, just wanted to thank you for Glenn's handling of the warranty, or lack thereof, on our Nissan Frontier. To fill you in: Glenn diagnosed a faulty windshield pump motor. He took it to the dealer for us and they charged us 90 bucks to tell us what we already knew and stated that it was not covered under the factory warranty . . . afterwards he took it to another dealer who replaced it under warranty and gave us great service, almost as great as yours . . . "

Although the mail was complimentary in nature, I felt in the dark as to what actual events had really transpired. The next day I brought the e-mail into my brother Glenn and questioned him about it.

Glenn then went to explain the unusual chain of events. The author of the email was a customer of ours that owned a 2004 Nissan Frontier with just over 18,000 miles. The owner had come in this January reporting that the windshield washers were inoperative. A subsequent check by one of our technicians revealed that the pump was getting power and ground but was faulty. Knowing this should be covered under the factory warranty, Glenn made an appointment with one of the several Nissan dealers that supplies our parts and warranty service.

On the date of the appointment, Glenn was shocked to get a call from the service advisor stating that the washer pump was not covered under the factory warranty. The advisor stated that the vehicle had been subjected to "off road" use and was, therefore, void of warranty. Glenn questioned the service advisor about this. The advisor stated that their technician had observed some grass under the vehicle and that this off road observation caused them to have to decline the warranty service. In addition, the advisor advised that the total cost for testing and inspection of the pump was 90.00. Glenn was astonished to learn of this and sent one of our drivers to pay the bill and retrieve the car.

Once back at the shop, Glenn immediately hoisted the vehicle for an under-car inspection. Much to his surprise he only found slight traces of tall grass under the vehicle. There were no signs of damage, mud or other clues to that might be considered abuse or off road use. Now he called the customer to update them on the situation. The customer responded that they had never driven the car off road but stated that they do park at times in an area of tall grass located adjacent to their home. Glenn advised the customer as to what had transpired at the dealership and suggested that she call the Nissan Customer Assistance Center.

Glenn received a call the next day from the owner. She stated that the Assistance Center representative stated that a history check of the vehicles revealed that it was owned by a "famous person" whose mechanic had previously replaced the washer pump with an aftermarket type. The representative stated that they would have to stand by the dealerships' decision to decline the warranty. Then the owner questioned the representative about the allegation of "off road" use. The owner even went on to state that her warranty booklet showed a picture of the Frontier in an off road scene and that her window sticker even stated that her vehicle was built with the "off road package." Still armed with these facts, the owner was unable to get the representative to agree to replace the pump under warranty. Glenn then advised the owner that he would take the vehicle to another Nissan dealership for a second opinion.

The following week, Glenn had our runners bring the vehicle to the second dealer with an explanation of what had transpired. Later that day, the service manager of the second dealership called Glenn. The manager stated that the washer pump was covered under warranty and that they were going to replace the Mass Air Flow sensor as well for a separate unrelated condition. The manager later apologized to the customer for having to go through such trouble getting the pump replaced. The dealer went on to state that her vehicles' warranty was valid and that there was no such prior history on file regarding the pumps prior replacement. The manager was unable to explain why the warranty was really declined in the first place.

In the end, the customer was happy to learn that her vehicle did have its 3-year 36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty intact, not to mention the additional Nissan powertrain warranty. Obviously, regarding warranty work these days, there can be some confusion as to what is covered, for how long and under what circumstances.

Bravo to the second dealer and to our staff, for working tirelessly in the effort of customer satisfaction. That is after all, what our end job is all about. Unfortunately, some days it just comes easier than others. 

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