Keep your service record documentation for warranty purposes.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I own a 1989 Chevy S-10 Blazer with 45,000 and a five speed manual transmission. For the last six months, I've noticed--perhaps once or twice a month--when I start in first gear, the stick shift will pop out of first making a loud noise. The car is still under warranty for another 5,000 miles, but the dealer says they would have to keep the Blazer and see if the problem happens to them before they will fix it. Obviously, I can't tie my car up for a month hoping it will happen for them. Is this something serious that I should be worried about?

TOM: Is it something serious? Yes, your transmission's falling apart. Should you worry about it? No. It's only a Blazer.

RAY: He's just kidding, Joan. What you DO need to do is create a paper trail. You want to document that this problem began while the truck is still under warranty. And the way to do that is through your repair orders.

TOM: Take the truck to the dealership, have the service advisor write up your complaint, and make sure he's specific ("check transmission" isn't specific enough. Make sure it says something like "transmission pops out of first gear intermittently when starting from dead stop").

RAY: Make sure the date and mileage is listed on the repair order, and let them keep the truck for a day and take a look at it. They won't have to keep it for a month. They know how to drive it in such a way that will make it pop out of gear...if that's what it's been doing.

TOM: But even if they return the Blazer and say they couldn't find anything wrong, you'll still have a record that you notified them of the problem and gave them the opportunity to fix it. In fact, I'd go in two or three times in the next 5,000 miles and do this, then save the repair orders.

RAY: What's probably happening is that your first gear syncro is disintegrating. If that's true, it'll eventually get worse. They're hoping you'll move out of state or sell the truck before then. But when it gets bad enough so they can witness it, they'll agree to fix it.

TOM: By that point, the Blazer will have 70,000 miles on it and the warranty will have expired. But that won't matter because you'll have your repair requests documenting the problem at 46,000, 48,000, and 49,999 miles. And because they were notified of the problem and given the opportunity to fix it while the truck was still under warranty, they will be obligated to fix it for free. Good luck, Joan, and don't lose those repair orders.

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