The Truth About Cars » claims The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 19 Jul 2014 17:00:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » claims Feinberg: A Modest Window To File Recall-Related Claims Thu, 12 Jun 2014 13:00:30 +0000 File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit

Bloomberg reports the compensation fund designed by attorney Kenneth Feinberg for General Motors will have “a relatively modest timetable to invite claimants to file their claims” once the claim period begins August 1. Feinberg also said by the end of June, he and his team will have a program “that will define who’s eligible to file a claim… what the dollars will look like for those who file,” as well as the obligations the plaintiffs will need to have “to prove their claim.” GM CEO Mary Barra added that her company won’t know the final cost of the fund “until the actual compensation has been run,” though an estimate may come at the end of Q2 2014.

On the other end of the scale, The Detroit News reports the automaker has come into full compliance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the agency’s request for documentation about the recall, bringing an end to the $7,000/day fine put in place for non-compliance. The total penalty paid to the NHTSA will come to $420,000 from the time the clock began on April 4 — after the automaker failed to answer in full by the previous day the 107-question survey to sort out the recall’s handling — through June 5, the day the Valukas Report was published and distributed to all concerned parties. The fine is in addition to the $35 million maximum fine levied upon GM for the decade-plus delay prior to recalling the out-of-spec ignition switch at the heart of the matter, and is due by July 4; the $35 million fine is due this Friday.

Meanwhile, Georgia lawyers Lance Cooper and Jere Beasley claimed in a statement that GM is attempting to move the nearly reopened wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of Brooke Melton to bankruptcy court in New York in an effort to use the liability shield established in the automaker’s exit from bankruptcy in 2009 to deflect the new claim. Melton’s family had accepted a settlement in September 2013 under allegations her 2010 fatal accident behind the wheel of a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt was the result of the defective switch on-board, one of 13 total fatalities so linked thus far. Alleging GM hid evidence in bankruptcy, Cooper and Beasley filed a lawsuit last month to reopen the case and set aside the settlement.

Finally, Autoblog reports GM has filed a trademark claim with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to reserve the name Zora for “motor land vehicles, namely, automobiles.” The name is part of the automaker’s heritage, as Zora Arkus-Duntov helped take the Chevrolet Corvette from a low-powered roadster with European flair, to a fire-breathing beast on the track and in the showroom through the car’s first two generations. The publication speculates the name could be used on a special edition Corvette somewhere down the road, especially if linked to a Grand Sport model; Arkus-Duntov led the Grand Sport program that established the Corvette as a racing legend during the C2 era.

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Piston Slap: The Extended “Luxury” Period Mon, 04 Nov 2013 13:44:32 +0000 Mehran writes:

First of all I wanted to thank you for your great blog, I read it daily. Now I recently have bought a 2010 Lexus RX 350 with 30K miles on the clock. the original warranty will expire this coming January, since I have bought the car I have put about 5K on it without any problems, now should I buy the extend warranty or not?

The car was a returned 3 year lease which I got a pretty good deal since the dealer was a family friend; at that time they quoted me $2000 for the 5 year 75K extended warranty.

Sajeev answers:

Thank YOU for contributing!  Everyone who clicks/reads/writes to this series helps fuel Citizen Sierra and fund the rotisserie restoration on my other brown project from 1983, a Fox Body Lincoln Continental.  But enough about me and my fantastically bizarre life with cars…

In general, consider these points:

1. Factory or no?  Factory warranties can make life easier: problems with warranty claims goes smoother with a call to Lexus’ official 1-800 number compared to a no-name aftermarket warranty company. Will you ever have a claim problem with a factory warranty, fixed at the dealer?  What about servicing at the dealership where there’s a shiny new Lexus loaner car, gourmet coffee and snacks, high-tech lounges, spa treatments and all the other luxurious crap this brand is (sometimes) famous for? Depending on the amenities of your local Lexus dealer, consider the luxuries before signing anything.

2. Do you need a warrantyany warranty?

  • Parts Cost: they shall be cheap, even the unique Lexus bits from the dealer.  The RX is basically a Toyota Camry with a lift kit and a far nicer body/interior. Any wear items (unplanned, not brake jobs and the stuff in the owner’s manual) in the next 70,000 miles won’t necessarily “outspend” the warranty cost…including labor.
  • Parts Availability: I don’t expect significant downtime waiting for Lexus RX spares. The odds of having parts on backorder from a Japanese/American brand is less likely than the low-volume models from Europe with unique engines/interiors/etc.
  • Knowledge Base:  who can actually fix your car properly?  Is your local mechanic gonna cringe at the sight of an electrical problem on your Mercedes E350 Lexus RX?  Again, refer back to the Camry heritage.
  • Labor rates:  Some cars are harder to diagnose and remove/install parts.  The Camry based RX isn’t making me sweat, compared to other vehicles with super-tight access and tons of mechanical bits like turbocharging plumbing.  More to the point, there’s no need to swing open the RX’s face like a barn door to access the front of the engine like some Audi products.

Considering all these factors, I wouldn’t recommend an extended warranty on a vehicle that’s so cheap to fix, so reliable and so commonplace.  Then again, if you want the piece of mind and the free loaner cars at the Lexus dealership…


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Problem Solver: How To Value A Totaled Car Thu, 24 Jan 2013 09:53:00 +0000


Hi Steve. In honor of the recent SAAB coverage, my 2000 9-5 recently decided to become a parts donor.

This whole experience has made me sick to my stomach. No thanks to the insurance company.

The SAAB got wrecked by yours truly. I was driving down a one lane road and somewhere between daydreaming and a sudden stop by the car in front of me, the front of my car got all smashed up.

At first I thought it was nothing. A headlight, turn signal lens, front bumper, a crack on the windshield and a bend on the hood. I would have no problem with just taking a smaller check and keep on driving it. The car only has 125k, and between a brand new turbo and a small oil leak, I’m perfectly happy with this car as my commuter.

The insurance company is offering $2700 if I keep it, and $3350 if I total it out. However I do have a lien on it and the check they are willing to give me if it’s totaled won’t cover my balance.

So what should I do?

Steve Says:

First off, that $3300 won’t be going to you if the car is totaled out. It will be going directly to the lienholder.  I seriously doubt the lienholder will take that smaller check instead, perform the needed repairs, get it inspected and let you keep driving that SAAB with a salvage title. The potential liability involved with financing salvage vehicles these days is simply too great.

Believe it or not, totaling the SAAB can be a good thing for your bottom line in the end. Insurance companies have several forms that need to be filled out and transacted back and forth in the event that the totaled price of a car doesn’t cover the remaining finance balance.

Finance companies and dealerships hate the glacial like pace of this process, and many will consent to just zeroing it out if the deficiency is minor.  If you financed with a large bank, you will likely have a deficiency balance unless you purchased GAP insurance. However if you did it with a Mom & Pop, or another company that doesn’t sell their notes, you may be able to get that balance zeroed out in the end.

When a lienholder agrees to zero out the balance the payout process is simple and straightforward. The insurance company gets the car. The lienholder gets a check. You get to move on with your life.

Consider the real world side of it. A lot of dealerships that self-finance prefer to get the money right away because they know you’re likely not going to pay the deficiency balance anyhow. So I would stay on friendly terms with that lienholder and see if it’s possible.

The second issue you have is valuation. Some insurance companies are incredibly fair to their customers while others are hellbent towards the proverbial screw job.

A $3350 valuation for a 2000 SAAB 9-5 with 125,000 miles may be fair depending on the model and the condition. You need to book it out.

To weigh it all in, I always tell folks to visit three sites to determine their vehicle’s value: Kelly Blue Book,, and NADAGuides. Kelly has improved their pricing models… but sometimes underprices older vehicles. Edmunds tends to have the strongest pulse on older vehicles. NADA covers the world of auto financing, and they tend to have the highest valuations of all.

Figure out those valuations, and be honest. Not sentimental. Take the high road. A car with a multitude of dents and dings is in fair condition, not average. A good car with some interior wear and a smidgen of paint fade is in average to good condition, not excellent.

Apply all three valuations and get an average. If the insurance valuation comes within 10% or $500 of your average, they are likely a fair broker. Anything more than that, and I would send them a letter highlighting the three valuations and your concerns.

One other thing. You can make special additions for some things that have been recently installed on your vehicle such as tires, a turbocharger (in your case), or certain modifications. Make sure you have those receipts! A detail, recent maintenance, or a minor repair isn’t worth a flip to the insurance company. But some hardware components can be monetized to your advantage. Add that turbo!

Notify the lienholder about your concerns, and talk with them before sending the letter. They may be doing the same exact thing as you. If the insurance company still doesn’t want to move then you can get a letter written up by a lawyer or even a consumer advocate. I have done a few of them (less than a dozen in over ten years). To be blunt though, I believe that persistence and a good presentation makes this step unnecessary except in extreme or high stakes cases.

Be friendly, be honest, and don’t be afraid to be persistent. It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease when it comes to insurance claims. Good luck!

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