What can I do if I think my dealer is trying to wait out my extended warranty that expires in 800 miles?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 1997

Dear Tom and Ray:

Help! My extended warranty expires in 800 miles and I can't seem to convince the Toyota dealership that there is actually anything wrong with the transmission on my '90 Celica GT Liftback. Recently (in the last six months), I've noticed that when the engine is cold, the transmission does not shift into fourth gear. It'll rev way up between 40 and 45 mph, with the tachometer about halfway between 3,000 and 4,000. Then, all of a sudden, it will shift and the tach will jump back down under 2,000. Once the car warms up, the transmission shifts just fine.

I've been driving this car for six years, and it didn't do this for the first five and a half. The transmission has been serviced, and the fluid is at its proper level. The dealership says that until the engine is warm, the car isn't supposed to shift into fourth gear. I don't want to get stuck paying for a new transmission. So, whattaya think? -- Nancy

RAY: I think THEY don't want to pay for a new transmission, either, Nancy. And that's why they put on the top hat and tails and gave you that lame song and dance.

TOM: But don't worry about the warranty running out. If you've complained about a problem during the warranty period, the dealer is not off the hook as soon as the warranty expires. Otherwise, they'd all just wait us out! "Sure, come back in 40,000 miles; I'm a little busy right now."

RAY: If you have a service order, dated during the warranty period, that asks them to check your transmission for this problem, the dealer is obligated to keep trying until he fixes it -- under warranty.

TOM: And they may not have to buy you a whole new transmission, Nancy. A lot of electronically controlled Toyota automatic transmissions of that era use a electronic solenoid to shift the gears. And when that solenoid goes bad or starts sticking, the transmission can behave erratically. And that's relatively easy to fix.

RAY: I'm not sure that's your problem. But if you have one of those transmissions, that's a good place to start.

TOM: If that's not it, they may have to replace or rebuild your transmission. And you know what? Tough! That's why you bought the extended warranty. Insist that they fix it, Nancy. And good luck.

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