General Motors / inadequate repairs to a 2010 chevy suburban

Elizabethtown, KY, United States
Contact information:

To Whom It May Concern,

Prior to the details, I have made numerous attempts to resolve this with the owner of the dealership, Mr. Mark Jones, but Mr. Jones has not returned any of my calls and has not been available when I've called.

I am requesting that I receive a refund in the amount of $2, 358.94 for inadequate repairs conducted on my 2010 Chevy Suburban at Herb Jones Chevrolet located in Elizabethtown, KY between 11-16 DEC and 17-20 DEC 2016. The details of payments are below in bold. I am not requesting a refund for my rental expense. Before continuing, I want to ensure that I recognize the assistance given by Chad Puyear, the General Manager and Santiago “Junior” Cora, my Service Advisor. Although, to date, I have still been unable to receive a complete descripton of work done on the second round of repairs. Furthermore, the conversations and dealings with Terry Gibson, the Service Manager, were unprofessional and completely inappropriate considering his position. Lastly, I feel the repairs were inappropriately and inaccurately conducted on the vehicle resulting in a vehicle that could not be repaired in a timely manner due to the situation in which I was placed. The initial issue was described to me as a fallen #7 lifter. The left side lifters were replaced, #1, 3, 5, and 7. My vehicle is equipped with the 5.3L Active Fuel Management (AFM) engine where cylinders 1, 7, 4, and 6 are disabled in order to conserve fuel. If the #7 lifter had fallen, it would make sense to replace either all the lifters or at least 1, 7, 4, and 6. The vehicle was returned to me after being in the shop for a week and once received I wasn’t able to drive more than five miles without another check engine light and a rough idle. I had to return the vehicle the following morning for a second round of repairs. I have a receipt that states the left side head was removed, a valve job completed, and a spark plug was replaced. I was initially told that a cylinder was missing and that a spark plug was changed in an attempt to fix the issue but that it was ineffective. I do not know which cylinder was missing at the time of turn in and I have still not been able to obtain the information. The dealership has not been forthcoming with that information and there has been a lot of sidestepping and double talking but no real facts. Regardless, these repairs that cost me over $2, 000 did not fix the problem. After the vehicle was returned to me the second time, the cylinder that was missing was the #4 cylinder which is one of the four that are disabled with AFM. There are numerous technical service bulletins that discuss issues with early model AFM engines and I would assume this certified Chevrolet dealership should have been aware of them and conducted repairs accordingly. Overall, my family and I were left stranded in South Dakota with a vehicle that I could not get repaired. I am a customer with minimal knowledge of these engines and rely on professionals to conduct proper diagnosis and repair. I do not feel this was done in my situation during either repair that was conducted. The events of the situation are described in detail below for further clarification:

I traveled to Elizabethtown on 10 DEC 16 from Clarksville, TN, which is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive, and approximately five miles from the destination my check engine light (CEL) turned on with a corresponding load noise in the engine compartment comparable to loud ticking. I was able to drive the vehicle to Herb Jones and leave the keys in their overnight drop box. While driving to the dealership I was able to discuss the situation with Junior prior to the service department closing. I had explained to Junior that I reside in Clarksville, TN and that my wife, mother-in-law, three large dogs, and I would be traveling to South Dakota on the 21st of December in order to visit our daughter and son-in-law for the Holidays. He was receptive and assured me he would do all that he could to have the vehicle repaired in a timely manner. Fortunately, there is an Enterprise Rental facility nearby and I was able to rent a vehicle while repairs were being conducted.
At approximately 1130 on the 11th, 30 minutes prior to closing, I was informed by Junior that the initial assessment was a fallen #7 lifter on the left side of the engine and repairs would be required beginning Monday the 13th. The repair was delayed on the 13th while the service department contacted my Extended Warranty company who denied the claim stating the issue was due to fair wear and tear. I was notified of the denied claim on the 15th and it’s my understanding that repairs were begun on the 15th. Junior had stated that the Service Technician recommended replacing the left side lifters on cylinders 1, 3, 5, and 7. I agreed because my assumption at the time is the technician should know best, but again, I stated the importance of a complete repair based on my upcoming long trip to South Dakota. The repairs were completed on the 16th and I received confirmation at approximately 1pm (CST) that the vehicle would be ready for pickup late that afternoon.
I received permission from my supervisor to depart Fort Campbell, KY early in order to retrieve my vehicle. My wife and I picked up the vehicle at 5:30pm and departed for a hotel to remain overnight. As I pulled into the parking lot, approximately five miles from the dealership, my CEL turned on and the engine began to idle very roughly. At this time, the dealership was closed and I wasn’t able to turn the car in until the morning of the 17th when the dealership opened at 7am. I expressed the overall issue to Junior and he began working on the issue. I remained in the waiting room where I was told that the Tech found a cylinder to be missing and would be replacing a spark plug. It was shortly after this that Junior informed me the repair didn’t solve the problem and more troubleshooting was required. I reiterated my situation of upcoming travel and Junior stated he would contact his Service Manager, Terry Gibson, in order to discuss the issue with me. Terry initially approached the matter politely with promises of a proper fix and stated his team would troubleshoot the vehicle and that he would call in an extra Service Tech to remain late if needed in order to repair what was wrong. Prior to closing at 1145am, Terry stated a cylinder was still missing and that they would not be able to make repairs as previously stated because the Tech wasn’t certain of what was required. I ensured Terry understood the importance of having my vehicle back on the 20th in time for a departure by 6:00am on the 21st. It was at this point that Terry offered to supply me with a rented Excursion which I would be able to take with me to South Dakota until the 30th if the repairs weren’t completed by the 20th. He seemed very helpful and I felt assured that things would work out in that we’d either have our vehicle back on the 20th or that we’d be able to take the rental at no cost to us to South Dakota. Additionally, Terry led me to believe his shop was covering the repairs due to an incomplete repair from the first issue.
I received word from Terry mid-morning of the 19th that the Tech believed the missing cylinder, unknown to me which one, was missing due to a large piece of carbon holding a valve open which was due to a large amount of carbon buildup. The head would need to be pulled and cleaned. Terry stated the vehicle would most likely not be ready for pickup by the 20th. I stated that I didn’t agree with the assessment because these vehicles aren’t typically susceptible to those conditions and I was concerned about the repair and the potential outcome. Terry assured me yet again that the repairs were appropriate and regardless I’d either have the vehicle or could take the rental all with no cost to me. I felt Terry was being fair and it was at this point that I swapped the rental, which was actually an Expedition and not large enough for our trip, in Clarksville for a small van in order to make our trip to South Dakota.
At approximately 5:30pm on the 19th, Terry called and said the vehicle repairs would now actually be complete on the morning of the 21st and that I could pick the vehicle up on our way to South Dakota. I had originally planned to depart at 6am, which Terry had been informed of during our conversations numerous times. Terry was now asking me to drive two-and-a-half hours the opposite direction, conduct a vehicle swap, and then take my family on a trip consisting of 940 miles after having just received more major engine repairs. Based on the recent history of the results from the previous repair, that was an unreasonable request to ask of us or anyone for that matter. The original statement from Terry was that he was covering the repairs and that if my vehicle wasn’t ready by the 20th, he’d supply the rental until the 30th as a courtesy based on the overall inconvenience. Furthermore, Terry was stating thay I’d now be required to cover the cost of the repairs. Hence, Terry had reneged on his original offer. I attempted to have a conversation with Terry regarding this matter and his overall comments to me were that my trip was no longer his problem, that he would not supply a rental, and he would not cover the repairs. I then stated I would discuss this with the General Manager because I felt Terry was now treating me unfairly and was completely disrespectful on all accounts. There were many comments back and forth and I was utterly shocked in the manner in which the overall conversation turned. Terry then stated he had already helped out too much and that the General Manager would do nothing for us. The overall conversation with Terry turned into one of the most unprofessional conversations I’ve had with anyone in the service business. I contacted Chad, the General Manager, and was able to discuss this situation that evening and he stated he would look into the matter and contact me on the 20th.
Chad contacted me the morning of the 20th and stated my vehicle would be ready that afternoon and that he would have a driver deliver it to my home and swap it for the rental vehicle. He stated this should give me the confidence that the repairs were appropriate. The cost of this repair was going to be approximately $800. I stated I felt the cost was not as promised and he agreed to discount the cost to $600. I agreed in order to have my vehicle returned because I felt as though I had no other choice and we’d been planning this family trip since the summer months. The vehicle was delivered by 5:30pm and the driver took the rental at that time.
My family and I departed the morning of the 21st and prior to our arrival to South Dakota the CEL turned on again and the engine had a rough idle just as it had after leaving the dealership the first time. I contacted a few repair shops in the area and was able to determine a cylinder was missing and that it should be reasonably safe to drive the vehicle the remainder of the trip. The vehicle operated with limited power and the fuel burn rate increased with an average of approximately 10 miles per gallon. I contacted Chad, described the situation and requested a full refund because I felt the repairs were inadequate a second time. He stated he would only refund $500 of the $600 dollars from the second repair only. I was unable to get the vehicle into a repair shop that night due to the extended amount of time it took to make the drive based on the vehicle performance. Early the morning of the 22nd, prior to obtaining an appointment for repair, I ran a diagnostic check on the vehicle and identified that the #4 cylinder was missing (code P0304). I replaced the #4 cylinder ignitor and the #4 spark plug but with the same result, P0304. The spark plug I removed was saturated with unburnt fuel. I then conducted a compression check on all cylinders with 1-3, and 5-8 averaging 175psi, however #4 was 25psi. This tells me that there was a compression problem in that cylinder. I am not a mechanic but google is a great thing and assisted me with this data which took no more than a few hours. To note, none of the spark plugs that I removed from the engine appeared to have been replaced as stated by the dealership. At this point, I attempted to get the vehicle into no less than four shops and three dealerships with no luck based on the Holidays. I was left with no choice but to trade the vehicle at a very reduced price and purchase a new vehicle in order to return home with my family.
I never expected that the dealership should be responsible for my initial repairs nor the inconvenience of the issue. I do feel that had the dealership conducted a complete repair, this matter could have been alleviated. I feel that the dealership made an attempt to do the least amount of work possible to get the vehicle back in my hands, which although was appreciated, resulted in further damage to the vehicle leaving me stranded. I would have rather had the service department inform me that numerous repairs were needed with a large bill and I could have at least had time to react to the situation and make my own choices for the outcome.

Fees related to the repair:

16 DEC 16 - $835.92 (Enterprise Rental)
16 DEC 16 - $2, 081.08 (Herb Jones)
20 DEC 16 - $600.00 (Herb Jones)
21 DEC 16 - $500.00 (Herb Jones refund)
22 DEC 16 - $114.89 (Cylinder Ignitor and one spark plug)
22 DEC 16 - $62.97 (Compression gauge and seven spark plugs)

Christopher Lee

Jan 10, 2017

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