GMPP transmissions and warranty coverage

Discussion in 'Transmission & Driveline Topics' started by daniel76309, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. daniel76309

    daniel76309 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    Niceville, Florida
    Please allow me to share my experience dealing with General Motors and their warranty coverage.

    I purchased a new General Motors Performance Parts 4L85E Supermatic transmission and installed it in March of 2015. My car is a 1970 Camaro and it has a GMPP LS376-480 engine which was also purchased new. The car does get driven but it has never been raced or abused, and in general it spends a lot of time in the garage (average use is approximately 2000 miles per year). I completed these installations myself, but I have been working on cars for almost 50 years so I am confident that everything was properly installed.

    In September of 2017, after approximately 5000 miles of use, the transmission began to malfunction. Under certain conditions it was slipping instead of shifting. I didn't know what was wrong (I thought it could be something minor) so I took it to my local transmission repair shop.

    The technician started by pulling the pan. He noted lots of metal fragments, so there was no alternative but to remove the transmission for further evaluation. He told me that the overdrive sprag had failed, which he said he hasn't seen very often, but his best guess was it was just a defective part to begin with. He also told me that this failure resulted in metal fragments which resulted in damage to other components in the transmission. The only solution was a total rebuild, including replacement of many hard parts. This cost me $2364.50.

    I realize that quality control of parts is not a perfect science, i.e. once in a while a defective part is going to make its way into an assembly, even at General Motors. I thought that General Motors had a good reputation for standing behind its products so I sent in a warranty claim form (using the address on the form) along with a detailed letter, receipts, and appropriate documentation. I ended up sending in three such inquiries over the course of approximately three months. All mailings were via certified mail, so I know that someone at GM received my inquiries, but I received absolutely no reply or acknowledgement!

    I could not find a number to GM customer service, so I called Jeg's instead (since I had purchased the transmission from them) and they provided a phone number. It wasn't quite the right number but it was a starting point for what turned out to be over three hours of telephonic frustration. To label it a "runaround" would be an understatement. I spoke to 6 people at 4 different phone numbers. I was put on hold many times, and was asked at least four times for my VIN, which of course is absolutely irrelevant in this situation and which pointed to the ignorance of the person I was speaking to. I was given "excuses" for non-coverage, such as there had to be a service bulletin or recall...or they won't cover any parts installed by the owner, etc. At one point I asked to speak to a supervisor and was promised a return call which never came, so I had to start over with yet another person. Ultimately all of these representatives said "no", and then when I would not accept that, said that they weren't really the person I needed to talk to, and then they would give me a different number to call. (Why couldn't they have said that at the beginning?)

    After spending most of the afternoon on the phone and after having to resort to what I would call a heroic level of assertiveness (which is very out of character for me), I got to speak with supervisor Meredith at 800-450-4150. She seemed very nice and seemed to want to help, so I thought that perhaps I was finally speaking with the correct person. She at least seemed interested in knowing the facts of my case. She said that my transmission would have warranty coverage for 3 years or 100,000 miles. However, they would only provide coverage if the repairs had been provided or approved by an authorized GM service center. She said that is their policy and it is in the written warranty information. At least she gave me a reason, though not a valid one, in my opinion. Supervisor Meredith proclaimed herself to be the ultimate decision-maker for GM, so apparently I have no further recourse.

    I feel as if I did as any normal person would do... When my transmission started slipping instead of shifting, I took it to a transmission repair shop to have it evaluated. I did not know at that time that I was looking at total rebuild.

    I submit that it is totally unrealistic to expect that anyone in this situation would stop before doing that to read the fine print in the GM warranty about getting a "blessing" from an authorized GM service center before proceeding with repairs. In my opinion, things like that serve only one purpose--which is to give GM an excuse to not pay. If they wanted to help a loyal customer they could make an exception--but they apparently don't actually want to help, so they hide behind their self-serving policies.

    I had purchased this transmission new for $2849. I could have gone with something less expensive, but I chose to purchase a new-from-GM, heavy duty transmission, expecting that it would be reliable and would have a long service life. So I am very disappointed in how it failed catastrophically after only about 5000 miles of use.

    The other reason I purchased a General Motors product was because of my expectation that in the unlikely event of a defective part, they would stand behind their products...but it turns out that they do not. I used to consider General Motors to be a reputable and ethical company, but sadly that is no longer the case.
  2. 70lt1z28

    70lt1z28 Veteran Member Gold Member

    Oct 3, 1999
    Beavercreek, Ohio, USA
    My opinion is that the GM of now is not the GM of yore. Since the bankruptcy-bailout, they are a new, "enlightened" 21st century company focused not on the customer or its employees, but only on investors. You occupied approximately 5-6 hours of their time which at ~$100 per hour (probably high for who you were typically talking to) so maybe it cost them $500.00 but they did not payout $2849.00/2 (assume 100% markup) 1424.50 so they saved 924.00!. That is ALL they look at. They lost. Do they care if by posting your summary that they maybe lost a few customers. Not in the least cause it can't be easily quantifiable on a spreadsheet somewhere. If everybody at NastyZ wrote emails saying they are done with GM and back that up with cancelled orders etc and lost dollars, you bet you would hear from them.
    Don't get me wrong, its not just GM. This is customer service from the big companies in the 21st century. GM may be really bad because they have been proven "too big to fail" just like most of the big banks.
  3. badazz81z28

    badazz81z28 Veteran Member

    May 4, 2001
    Las Vegas, NV
    That’s a terrible situation to be in...however GM is correct. As soon as you had a problem you should have called them. You can’t expect GM to pick up a bill from a mechanic of your choice. If lots of people did that it opens them up to fraud and $$$ lost. Just like a new car. You can’t take your brand new car to just anyone for warranty coverage, it’s got to be a authorized GM repair facility.

    When I had issues with my TREMEC, I called them and they directed me where to go and no issues with the cost.

    Big lesson to be learned here. Not really GMs employees fault, it’s policy they are simply following.
    dave@ztech likes this.
  4. 8pack

    8pack Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Same for your refrigerator
    Washer, dryer
    Cell phone
    Power tools

    Unfortunately when it goes to an non-certified shop they do not follow a standard GM procedure to verify the failure. In order for GM to be able to warranty it on an ongoing basis they want to document the reason for failure, be guaranteed that GM parts are going back in and the mechanic/shop is trained in their repair and warranty process. If after the repair by an independent shop and it broke again would expect them to continue to warranty it? It would make no sense to...they don’t know anything about the quality of the repair and are just dumping good money after bad...

    Now, the customer service experience, that is a totally different and unacceptable situation. With some more investment of time you might get some satisfaction but it would only be a moral victory.
  5. daniel76309

    daniel76309 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    Niceville, Florida
    I understand the points being made above. However, they are being made with benefit of hindsight. When I took my car to the transmission shop I had no idea how extensive the repairs were going to be. I thought it might be something minor, but it turned out that it was basically "totaled", i.e. for what it cost to fix it, I almost could have bought another new one. I think if I had known that at the time I would have proceeded differently.
  6. 8pack

    8pack Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Candidly, the shop should have stopped working on it and suggested you have it towed to an authorized repair shop. If they knew it was new and under warranty they shouldn't have done anything past dropping the pan once they saw metal.

    I know it is frustrating and a big bummer but this was a bit of bad luck and small errors that stacked up resulting in a tough lesson learned. I think your real issue is with the transmission shop. This wasn't their first rodeo, they knew the score and we're getting paid no matter what.
  7. Lars_2Gen

    Lars_2Gen Veteran Member

    Dec 29, 2017
    Fullerton, CA
    I agree with 8pack, once you knew there was a significant problem, either you or the shop should have stopped and contacted GM or sent the car to a authorized repair facility. Having done warranty return work for a stealership (not GM), I can say that I never saw a claim from a non-authorized shop get paid. I saw customers try to get it paid many times... but once they made the choice to have it repaired elsewhere they were on their own.

    It sucks to be caught in this situation and honestly, GMPP should have been able to explain this to you on the first call.
  8. Knuckle Dragger

    Knuckle Dragger Administrator Staff Member Lifetime Gold Member

    Nov 2, 2002
    Waddell AZ
    GM is 100% in the right here. It's common sense you would have to take it to a authorized repair center. That's an industry standard. It suck all this happened to you.

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