Nissan dealership won’t honor its warranty on my used car

Reed Scott buys a lemon from a Nissan dealership. Now it won’t cover the repairs for the malfunctioning car. Can it do that?

norcal roadQuestion: I bought my son a 2004 Chrysler Concorde from a Nissan dealership in another state recently. The car came with a 90-day, 3,000-mile warranty.

Shortly after that, the “check engine” light came on indicating a problem. I brought it to my local dealership and a technician told me a repair was necessary. But when I asked about the warranty, a representative from the dealership that sold me the car said it would not cover the repair because “the car will still drive.”

I’ve spent more than $1,000 on repairs that should have been covered. I would like the dealership to honor its warranty. Can you help me? — Reed Scott, Manhattan, Kan.

Answer: If the dealership offered you an unconditional warranty on your pre-owned car, then it should have paid for your repairs.

But a look at the dealership’s actual warranty wording explains why it won’t help you. The guarantee is a “limited” three-month, 3,000- mile powertrain warranty, and it’s clear that you and the dealership are having a difference of opinion on what is, and isn’t, included.

It doesn’t really matter. The dealership shouldn’t have sold you a lemon, which, after reviewing your service record, I can tell you this Concorde was. One of the problems in resolving this is that the Nissan dealership you dealt with was in Colorado, hundreds of miles from your home, and you were trying to act as an intermediary between a local technician and the business that sold you the vehicle.

I don’t know if you’d had any better luck if you lived in Colorado and could easily visit the dealership. But for some unscrupulous businesses, out of sight is certainly out of mind.

I contacted Nissan on your behalf. Eventually, the dealer contacted you directly and offered to cover the cost of the new part.

Did the Nissan dealership do enough for Reed Scott?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Can’t really answer. What does the warranty say?

  • kimrod219

    Which dealer?

  • sdir

    Customer asked for the warranty to repair one part, how does that make this car a lemon? And while I drive and love my 2004 Toyota, I’ve had some expensive maintenance performed now that it’s a 10-year old car. It’s unfortunate it happened right after purchase, but these things can happen. And why no comments in the article about what this customer could’ve done differently. Did he read the warranty? Did he get the car checked out by a local mechanic (NOT at the dealership)? Did he check consumer reports on the quality of this vehicle? How about using google to check reviews of this dealer?

  • EdB

    “which, after reviewing your service record, I can tell you this Concorde was.”

    Any further information as to what was going wrong? This story is missing a lot of parts to make any kind of decision on if the dealer did right or wrong.

  • sirwired

    Without knowing what part was faulty, nobody can offer an opinion on if the repair was covered or not. There are lots of parts that could trigger a CEL that have nothing to do with the powertrain. (The evaporative emissions system is the first that comes to mind.)

  • Pat

    He bought a used car. He did not do his research to see the service history (and probably did not take it to the mechanic) or did his research and bought it anyway. And he got a limited warranty that probably said if there was a problem bring it back to us.

    At a minimum when the check engine light went on, he should have called the dealer, explained he was out of state, and asked what he should do. The dealer could have arranged to have the work done or told him to bring it in when he got back to the dealer location. Many times with a check engine light he could have safely got it back to the dealer, it is just the car might not have run as good.

    Bottom line the OP was in the wrong and the dealer was was not responsible to reimburse for the repair.

  • Michael Kent Minor

    Impossible, as it often is, to answer such a question with 100% certainty. In this case, no, the dealership did not do enough. In a hypothetical different case, it depends on the facts of that case.

  • John Baker

    I honestly think this comes down to the OP not understanding the difference between a whole car warranty and a limited power train warranty. Having read the story a few times and without standing there during the transaction, I think this really is a case of the OP hearing warranty and missing the important words like limited / power train. In that case, I think the dealership went above and beyond.

  • naoma foreman

    A number of years ago my husband bought me a new car. The dealership manager was out and a salesman sold it to him — husband asked for UNLIMITED MAINTENANCE FOR TWO YEARS. And, the salesman wrote it up for us. Time passed and I had problems and returned it. They said “NO ONE HAS EVER GOTTEN THAT KIND OF MAINTENANCE.” I went to the safety deposit box and got the warranty. IT was honored and the salesman fired on the spot.

  • Nigel Appleby

    A lot of the warranties on used cars (limited/power train or other) are only valid at the selling dealership, which may also have been an issue in this case.

  • Tom Daley

    because chris looks for page clicks … not accuracy.

  • emanon256

    The Colorado Lemon Law requires that the purchaser return the vehicle to the dealer from where it was purchased for a repair, and the dealer is only required to repair what is covered in the written warranty. If the same problem occurs three times within the warranty period, or the dealer deems it can not be fixed, the dealer must buy back the car. So I don’t see how this car would be considered a Lemon. I too am very curious what the service records state. Also, Colorado is an as-is state. Any used car is sold as-is, and it is the purchaser’s responsibility to inspect and verify before purchasing. Every time I have bought a used car, I have had it independently inspected.

    I think its nice when dealers do provide a limited warranty on 10 year old cars. However, without seeing this specific warranty, and without knowing what needed to be fixed in the car, its hard to say if this repair should be covered or not. Generally power train warranty’s only cover the engine, transmission, gears, differential, etc. Any thing that’s involved in moving the car and is not a wear and tear part (i.e. the clutch and tires would not be covered). Also, most of these limited warranty’s, in writing, require the buyer to go back to the dealer. So I really don’t think (Depending on what it says) the dealer should have to pay for a repair somewhere else.

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    I question the wisdom of buying a 10 year old car at a dealership hundreds of miles away. There are REALLY no cars worth buying in the immediate vicinity if / when something goes wrong with it?

  • EdB

    That had me wondering to. Why go all the way to Colorado. One thing that came to mind was something that happened recently to my wife’s nephew. He had driven out to California from Arkansas in a less than adequate vehicle. On his way back, it broke down in Las Vegas and would cost more to repair than another used car. So he bought another car to finish the trip. Maybe something similar happened to the OP?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Brand awareness might have helped, as well. Your 2004 Toyota would be a FAR better choice for a used car than anything Chrysler was producing at that time. Reliability for their products has improved recently I have read, but the generation of vehicles that included the Concorde had dismal reliability ratings.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I was also curious how Chris got access to the service record when apparently the OP didn’t have it. Or did the OP only get it after the purchase and when the thing broke down? Why would he have bought the car if it had a horrible service record?

  • Grant Ritchie

    Thank you for your intelligent, insightful, well reasoned comment.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I’m going to take a guess and say the OP is a college student. Kansas State University is in Manhattan and that makes up a large percentage of the population. (And a 10-year-old used car would fit with the stereotypical college kid’s car.) His family might live in Colorado so he bought the car over the summer but when the problems started he was back at school.

  • John Baker

    Fly, Icarus, Fly Could be a few things… Manhattan, KS is next door to Ft. Riley and also home to K. State. So, the OP could be a student or a soldier (Colorado Springs is home to Ft. Carson). If you’d ever been to “the little apple,” as Manhattan KS. likes to call itself, you’d completely understand why someone would go somewhere else to buy a car.

    If either of the above is true, at least the OP didn’t use that card.

    A beat up 10 yo car sounds like a soldier or student “hooptie”

  • Nikki

    I was wondering all that, too. I can’t help but think of the commercials – – – “show me the CarFax”…

  • emanon256

    I bought an old used car in another state once. I was trying to find a specific car, in a specific color, and found three, one in Chicago, one in LA, and one in Phoenix. I did find a few similar ones in Colorado, but they were all in very bad shape and over priced. The people in Chicago and LA didn’t take me seriously when I said I was interested in buying the car out of state. They thought I was joking and refused. The person in Phoenix was very cool with it. I made arrangements with a mechanic in Phoenix to check out the car, and the seller allowed them to, all came back good. The seller sent me more pictures as well. Anything I asked for. We then did all the paperwork via mail including a temporary title so I could get a temp plate. I flew down to Phoenix and the seller even offered to pick me up at the airport. We went to her bank where they verified my money was good, and she signed the official title over, took her plates, I put on the temp plate, and drove home. I saved about $4,000 on what I could have bought the car for in Colorado, and got the exact year, model, and color I wanted.

  • Nikki

    I have a few friends that bought the Concorde used – – and they have had nothing but problems with them. Buyer beware/caveat emptor, ad nauseum…

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    A little GoogleFu turns up the only Reed Scott I can find in Manhattan, KS is between ages 55 and 59 and his picture certainly shows him to be a middle-aged man. Was associated with the Army.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    We don’t have the information to make that determination. You’re entire post is conjecture at best. Who was the warranty with? If it was that specific dealer then perhaps. Was it a warranty company with multiple locations? Then there was no reason to take it back to the dealer.

  • emanon256

    I don’t get all the conjecture among many posters today (not you, them). The article starts stating he bought it for his son.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I was going to point that out, but decided to do so obliquely. I’m going to guess that the only way we readers can figure out exactly why someone would do so many things seemingly wrongly (buying that model and year of car, buying it out of state and expecting in-state service, not reading the conditions of the warranty) could only be because the consumer was young and naive. Young and naive? Okay, we’ve all been there, done that. Experienced and educated? Umm, less likely for us to understand the story as presented.

    Mind you, all we have is a very abbreviated account by Chris, edited for readability and interest. I think that he could have included some precautions that any consumer should take in buying a used car; i.e. getting an independent mechanic report and a Carfax report.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    My problem was I simply skimmed over and missed the line about it being for his son. I think I was jumping ahead to the Nissan line (which turned out to be totally immaterial since the car wasn’t a Nissan).

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I’ve known people to drive across several states for a used car. (And not collector’s vehicles, but normal used cars.) I’ve never really quite understood that, but to each his own. I also had a friend who drove several states for a used garden tractor. He said it was a great tractor for the price, but pulling a trailer across three states and back must have cost a fortune in gas so it needed to be a great deal.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    No problem. My normal excuse is lack of caffeine, although by mid-afternoon, that excuse is a very thin one, indeed. ;-)

  • Pat

    Yes we do have enough info. You call the dealer you bought the car from on what to do. They can tell based on the warranty what to do and if it is covered. They can tell you if there is a local repair shop to take it to or if you have to bring it back to the dealer. The post says is came with the warranty (not an additional purchase) so I would expect that is a bring back to the dealer the car was bought warranty. The OP choose to have it repaired by some place other than dealer rather than take it back to the dealer (which the OP was told to do). That makes the OP responsible for the cost of repair.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    “The post says is came with the warranty (not an additional purchase) so I would expect that is a bring back to the dealer the car was bought warranty.”
    Your expectations (and mine as well) are merely conjecture. It may be, it may not be. Until you have seen the warranty, we are only guessing at what the terms and conditions of the warranty are.

    Second, we’d have to know the consumer protections laws of that state regarding warranties.

    But equally importantly, and I think reasonable people can disagree, is whether the repair was done before or after she contacted the dealership. My read is that she asked about the warranty before the repair was done and accordingly made the repairs after being denied. But I do see how someone could see the timeline differently.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    My local Mazda dealer will have the Carfax report online for every used car they sell. If you see that a car has been in for service numerous times for “check electrical system” I would run…fast.

  • Tom Daley

    go read Cranky Flyer’s takedown of Chris’ piece of the AA-US merger

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Could you send us the link?

  • Tom Daley

    I’m sure this will get removed but in the meanwhile:

    American/US Airways Merger-Bashing Relies on Inaccurate Assumptions and Bad Information . “…seeing Chris Elliott’s terrible piece in USA Today flipped a switch in me.”

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Thanks for the link. That article kind of reminds me of when the Soviet newspaper Pravda would tell the citizens how well the economy was doing when all you had to do was see the lines of ordinary Soviet citizens waiting in line for bread.
    The writer very unfairly bashed Chris – his criticism sounds way too personal. Wonder if he is getting a kickback from AA-US Airways? His title of “Cranky Flier” is well deserved.