Avis/Sedgwick false claim bill for $8000 !!

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Nov 20, 2015
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I have been quite surprised at the negative responses to this writer. While I am no expert on automotive matters, I have experienced premature engine failure in a vehicle despite meticulous adherence to the maintenance schedule, So, I read the instructions in my owner's manual very carefully.
Here is what the OP stated:

1. The Oil Change Required message flashed when he turned on the vehicle. This alert tells you that, based on your driving habits, you need to change the oil soon. This alert has to be manually reset after the oil is changed. This is NOT the Oil Pressure Warning Light which indicates you need to stop the vehicle pronto or risk serious damage

2. The Engine Temperature Warning light lit twice, briefly, along with a chime sounding. According to the owner's manuals of my 2 cars, and that of the Grand Caravan,(viewable online), if the light goes off, it's okay to continue driving.

3. He stopped the vehicle when the temperature warning came back on persistently and he began to lose power.
He re-started the van 2 hours later, but it didn't make it far before the problem recurred. According to the owner' manual, it's okay to try again if the temperature returns to normal.

I don't have the knowledge of the experts who have weighed in above, but I think he has some has some hope here:

1 He needs to find out what they are charging him for (autopsy report on the engine)

2. He needs to see documentation of oil change history:
- Was maintenance up to date?
- Do they change oil based on a fixed mileage schedule?
- Do they change the oil when the cars computer says so?
- Did they actually change the oil recently and just forget to reset the oil change light?(It's happened to me!)

I don't believe delaying a single oil change for 1000-1500 miles would normally cause catastrophic engine failure in a late model vehicle which has previously been maintained properly.

I actually believe his actions were really pretty close to what the owner's manual would have told him to do.(I've only seen one in a rental car a couple of times, so I doubt he was able to actually read one unless he went online.)

I don't see evidence of fraud here and I don't know that I would have acted the same way he did, but I do think he has some hope and I believe this forum should give him that. (along with brutal honesty)
 
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Neil Maley

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I have been quite surprised at the negative responses to this writer. While I am no expert on automotive matters, I have experienced premature engine failure in a vehicle despite meticulous adherence to the maintenance schedule, So, I read the instructions in my owner's manual very carefully.
Here is what the OP stated:

1. The Oil Change Required message flashed when he turned on the vehicle. This alert tells you that, based on your driving habits, you need to change the oil soon. This alert has to be manually reset after the oil is changed. This is NOT the Oil Pressure Warning Light which indicates you need to stop the vehicle pronto or risk serious damage

2. The Engine Temperature Warning light lit twice, briefly, along with a chime sounding. According to the owner's manuals of my 2 cars, and that of the Grand Caravan,(viewable online), if the light goes off, it's okay to continue driving.

3. He stopped the vehicle when the temperature warning came back on persistently and he began to lose power.
He re-started the van 2 hours later, but it didn't make it far before the problem recurred. According to the owner' manual, it's okay to try again if the temperature returns to normal.

I don't have the knowledge of the experts who have weighed in above, but I think he has some has some hope here:

1 He needs to find out what they are charging him for (autopsy report on the engine)

2. He needs to see documentation of oil change history:
- Was maintenance up to date?
- Do they change oil based on a fixed mileage schedule?
- Do they change the oil when the cars computer says so?
- Did they actually change the oil recently and just forget to reset the oil change light?(It's happened to me!)

I don't believe delaying a single oil change for 1000-1500 miles would normally cause catastrophic engine failure in a late model vehicle which has previously been maintained properly.

I actually believe his actions were really pretty close to what the owner's manual would have told him to do.(I've only seen one in a rental car a couple of times, so I doubt he was able to actually read one unless he went online.)

I don't see evidence of fraud here and I don't know that I would have acted the same way he did, but I do think he has some hope and I believe this forum should give him that. (along with brutal honesty)
I do agree that the letter writer should use our thread and try. I think your suggestion of asking for the maintenance records in addition to the forms we recommend would also be helpful.

If there is even a slight chance that requesting those docs could get the claim dropped it is always worth trying.
 
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mmb

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Jan 20, 2015
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I have been quite surprised at the negative responses to this writer. While I am no expert on automotive matters, I have experienced premature engine failure in a vehicle despite meticulous adherence to the maintenance schedule, So, I read the instructions in my owner's manual very carefully.
Here is what the OP stated:

I don't believe delaying a single oil change for 1000-1500 miles would normally cause catastrophic engine failure in a late model vehicle which has previously been maintained properly.

I actually believe his actions were really pretty close to what the owner's manual would have told him to do.(I've only seen one in a rental car a couple of times, so I doubt he was able to actually read one unless he went online.)

I don't see evidence of fraud here and I don't know that I would have acted the same way he did, but I do think he has some hope and I believe this forum should give him that. (along with brutal honesty)
@CCGormand -- well done ! My thoughts on this thread were along the same lines as you, although I didn't have the time to follow the process and come to a conclusion, probably because I don't have the knowledge of car engines down or feel comfortable expounding on them.
A big point for me is the lack of manual in the car. If it's not there, just exactly how would he determine the proper procedure to follow?
My car, from time to time will show some sort of message. In fact right now the screen, on startup says something about the driver side front parking light. I'm assuming it's out but will need to look it up.
I do think he needs to follow the standard procedure as outlined by the staff for information.
 
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Patina

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Dec 22, 2015
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At this point, we are discussing this amongst ourselves as the OP has not been back since @sas80's original post (the first response to the OP). It appears he has not read any of the comments, either bad or good. While I agree we should limit ourselves to offering assistance to all that come here asking for advice.......as @technomage1 mentioned about piling it on, the same advice is being offered over and over again! My suggestion would be to wait until we hear back from the OP to offer further advice rather than reiterate what another commenter has stated previously in the thread.
 
Jan 25, 2016
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I have been quite surprised at the negative responses to this writer. While I am no expert on automotive matters, I have experienced premature engine failure in a vehicle despite meticulous adherence to the maintenance schedule, So, I read the instructions in my owner's manual very carefully.
Here is what the OP stated:

1. The Oil Change Required message flashed when he turned on the vehicle. This alert tells you that, based on your driving habits, you need to change the oil soon. This alert has to be manually reset after the oil is changed. This is NOT the Oil Pressure Warning Light which indicates you need to stop the vehicle pronto or risk serious damage

2. The Engine Temperature Warning light lit twice, briefly, along with a chime sounding. According to the owner's manuals of my 2 cars, and that of the Grand Caravan,(viewable online), if the light goes off, it's okay to continue driving.

3. He stopped the vehicle when the temperature warning came back on persistently and he began to lose power.
He re-started the van 2 hours later, but it didn't make it far before the problem recurred. According to the owner' manual, it's okay to try again if the temperature returns to normal.

I don't have the knowledge of the experts who have weighed in above, but I think he has some has some hope here:

1 He needs to find out what they are charging him for (autopsy report on the engine)

2. He needs to see documentation of oil change history:
- Was maintenance up to date?
- Do they change oil based on a fixed mileage schedule?
- Do they change the oil when the cars computer says so?
- Did they actually change the oil recently and just forget to reset the oil change light?(It's happened to me!)

I don't believe delaying a single oil change for 1000-1500 miles would normally cause catastrophic engine failure in a late model vehicle which has previously been maintained properly.

I actually believe his actions were really pretty close to what the owner's manual would have told him to do.(I've only seen one in a rental car a couple of times, so I doubt he was able to actually read one unless he went online.)

I don't see evidence of fraud here and I don't know that I would have acted the same way he did, but I do think he has some hope and I believe this forum should give him that. (along with brutal honesty)
This is exactly what I was getting ready to submit ... the oil change light means nothing ... other than the mileage counter (or time) has reached the programmed interval suggesting that the oil be changed. It is in no way indicative of any issue or problem with the vehicle. If there was an oil pressure issue, that would have lit an actual warning light which (most likely) would not have gone away as low oil pressure generally does not correct itself.

That being said, I agree 100% that the OP followed prudent precautions as would have been laid out in the manual. iIf the printed manual was not in the vehicle, a downloadable PDF of the manual would be available from the manufacturer's website, easily downloadable and readable even on a smart phone (as I have had to do before with my hybrid).

As indicated, the OP needs to find out what caused the failure and have Avis cough up the maintenance records for this vehicle. It is possible that the oil hadn't been changed and the oil monitor had just been reset ... meaning the OP was driving a vehicle with sludge in the crankcase. I would be more interested in the viability of the cooling system as a drop in oil pressure or overly-viscous motor oil would generally tend to make really, really bad noises before causing engine overheating or failure.
 
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jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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Wow! I love your can-do spirit! Your quest for practical knowledge is a dying breed......good for you for maintaining as much self reliance as possible!
There are few things in life as satisfying as "taking care of it yourself". I always try, seldom succeed, but now I know to go to YouTube for even more information. Genius, Christina!
 
May 17, 2016
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@Praneeth In your post above , You have meticulously laid out a very convincing case of YOUR responsibility for the damage to the car ...Avis won't even need a lawyer with all your admissions. You ignored multiple warnings and alerts....and continued to drive a massive amount of miles before the car finally conked out. I can't follow the logic of driving with your family in the car for thousands of miles when the car is telling you that it needs servicing...

I agree with Patina , you need to contact your insurance company and see if you have some type of insurance that will cover you for this.
I'm so sorry to hear about this, Praneeth. It is easy for all of us to judge from this side and know that it was not a good idea to take the car with the engine light on, but until you are a target for these claims (fraudulent or not, they definitely price-gauge you no matter what), it is easy to have blind faith in a system that everyone uses and you never hear about. And who hasn't ignored a beep or light that is unfamiliar in a car that otherwise is running fine and you are in the middle of nowhere? I'm guessing AAA doesn't pick up many drivers who's cars are still running but there is a light on somewhere.

I don't know anything about what the contracts we sign say about mechanical failure, but surely the renter is not responsible for when a car fails, whether it happened on their watch or not. A car failing has just as much to do with its prior maintenance as who was behind the wheel at the time of the problem. I would follow the steps laid out in the link, and rather than divulge all of your story, assert that you did not drive the vehicle in any manner that would have caused the mechanical damage, and are not responsible for the repair of a car that may or may not have been properly maintained. Perhaps they should prove that the vehicle was in perfect working order via maintenance records before they can charge someone for car trouble. You, at the very least, are entitled what is constituting the $8369 claim. Did you get the insurance? Do you have car insurance? I mean, most car insurance doesn't cover mechanical repair, just body work, so I'm not sure how that would be handled.

Again, it wasn't good to ignore the indications, but I can't see how a renter is responsible for repairing an entire engine (what that cost implies) when the vehicle fails, when the renter has only had the vehicle for a snapshot of the vehicle's life. Who knows how the vehicle was driven before? Did the rental company EVER do recommended or required work? We rent for the purpose of having a thing take us from point a to point b, when a vehicle fails to do that, the renter should be the one upset. I'm sure the contract says otherwise, but I feel like if you are paying for a service, the onus is on the service provider to ensure the service is provided (in this case a working car).
But there were multiple warnings. Ignoring them exacerbated the situation--the engine probably seized up because of insufficient oil pressure. He should never have driven the car off the lot with an engine warning light on.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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It still doesn't hurt to go back at them. That light had to have been on at least from the last person that rented the car.
I respectfully disagree. The light easily could have first illuminated when the OP started the car, there is no indication (unless mentioned by an employee) that the light was on previously. There is no rhyme or reason as to when a light goes on. I am basing this on our experience, my husband last drives our car, no indicator light is on, then I start the car later and a light is illuminated.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
I respectfully disagree. The light easily could have first illuminated when the OP started the car, there is no indication (unless mentioned by an employee) that the light was on previously. There is no rhyme or reason as to when a light goes on. I am basing this on our experience, my husband last drives our car, no indicator light is on, then I start the car later and a light iilluminated.
I still say the writer should request copies of the prior rental records and the maintenance records from the rental company.

It's a huge long shot but we have seen too many cases of things we never imagined would be refunded or dropped happen with a letter.

The worst that can happen is the case is not dropped (which is what I think is going to happen) and the best is they find they didn't maintain the car properly and leave the writer alone.

It never hurts to try.
 
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Oct 13, 2016
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Dear All,
I thank you all for the time you have taken to read and understand my case. I would like to clarify few points here.
a) The car had ~10K miles on it when I picked it up.

b) It was the "Oil change" message flashing and not low oil. I wouldn't have taken the vehicle had it been "low oil" message. The only reason I took it was because to best of my knowledge a small delay in changing the oil will not harm the vehicle.

c) The initial chime about Engine overheat came while I was driving on the highway. This went off immediately even before I could even realize that the warning sound was related to engine getting over-heated. Had it been consistent, I would have pulled off to the shoulder, but that wasn't the case.

d) Surprisingly, the first indication came when it was driven for 2.5 hrs. For next 5 hrs, the car never signaled that it was getting over-heated.

e) When I called up the Avis customer service for help, after the car stopped, the initial solution I got from them was to take the vehicle to nearest Walmart and get the coolant topped up. Would that not have damaged the vehicle if it was driven in that condition?

f) In the entire episode, I have not swayed away from any standard driving protocol.

g) I did ask Sedgewick for all the details like the serving schedules of the car etc. However, instead of furnishing the documents, the executive from Sedgwick conveniently called me back to tell the car's maintenance records were found to be proper.

Please advise me on how to proceed further.

I would also like to know if anyone of you can refer me to a good lawyer who can handle this case and what would be my approximate legal expense.
 
Jan 5, 2015
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Dear All,
I thank you all for the time you have taken to read and understand my case. I would like to clarify few points here.
a) The car had ~10K miles on it when I picked it up.

b) It was the "Oil change" message flashing and not low oil. I wouldn't have taken the vehicle had it been "low oil" message. The only reason I took it was because to best of my knowledge a small delay in changing the oil will not harm the vehicle.

c) The initial chime about Engine overheat came while I was driving on the highway. This went off immediately even before I could even realize that the warning sound was related to engine getting over-heated. Had it been consistent, I would have pulled off to the shoulder, but that wasn't the case.

d) Surprisingly, the first indication came when it was driven for 2.5 hrs. For next 5 hrs, the car never signaled that it was getting over-heated.

e) When I called up the Avis customer service for help, after the car stopped, the initial solution I got from them was to take the vehicle to nearest Walmart and get the coolant topped up. Would that not have damaged the vehicle if it was driven in that condition?

f) In the entire episode, I have not swayed away from any standard driving protocol.

g) I did ask Sedgewick for all the details like the serving schedules of the car etc. However, instead of furnishing the documents, the executive from Sedgwick conveniently called me back to tell the car's maintenance records were found to be proper.

Please advise me on how to proceed further.

I would also like to know if anyone of you can refer me to a good lawyer who can handle this case and what would be my approximate legal expense.
Also forgot to mention, we can't recommend lawyers, or any other service for that matter. Cost would depend on the lawyer you select and what their billing rate would be. I would refrain from mentioning you're hiring a lawyer or might hire one or any mention of a suit when you correspond with the rental company. If you do, they'll go radio silent in an attempt to protect themselves. That's not to say do or don't hire a lawyer, just don't tell them you plan to sue.
 
Nov 3, 2015
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Please continue to be politely insistent that all contact with Sedgwick must be in writing, and that you need that whole list of documents mentioned in http://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/
That way you have access to the same information that Sedgwick and Avis does.

I am quite surprised someone would tell you to drive with an engine that's overheated and get coolant topped off. If I'd been in stop and go traffic and saw the engine temperature start to go up, the first thing I would have done would be to turn off the a/c, turn on the heater and fan, unroll the windows and get off the road until the engine had cooled completely and I'd had a chance to call for a tow truck. Running the heater to dump heat into the passenger compartment might have given the engine enough cooling to keep it safely running for a minute or two. At freeway speed, I would not have expected the engine to overheat, and if it had, I would have pulled off into the median or breakdown lane immediately and waited for a tow.

In my experience, coolant does not need to be "topped off". At least not unless you've got a leak (which should be fixed ASAP) or a catastrophic event you generally know about because clouds of steam are rolling out from under the hood as the coolant boils off.

And yes, talk to the credit card company that you used for the rental and to your own insurance agent now if you have not done so already.
 
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Oct 13, 2016
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@Praneeth,

Follow the steps that Sas mentioned in her first reply to you.

http://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/

Also ask for the maintenance log and call your insurance company and your credit card companies to start the claims process. As there is a time limit, don't delay longer.

Update from end....

I checked with my insurance provider and credit card company. They did mention that "maintenance breakdown" is not covered and only the collision related damages are covered.

I'm now left with the option of either paying on my own or fight this out and I choose to do the latter.

On the other hand, I have been following up with the Sedgwick executive over the mail asking for the documents and haven't got any response yet. Till now I have received 2 calls from them and no mail communication. I believe it is their delay tactics and later put it for collections. Let me know how to deal with this.

Thanks,
Praneeth
 
Feb 9, 2016
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Update from end....

I checked with my insurance provider and credit card company. They did mention that "maintenance breakdown" is not covered and only the collision related damages are covered.

I'm now left with the option of either paying on my own or fight this out and I choose to do the latter.

On the other hand, I have been following up with the Sedgwick executive over the mail asking for the documents and haven't got any response yet. Till now I have received 2 calls from them and no mail communication. I believe it is their delay tactics and later put it for collections. Let me know how to deal with this.

Thanks,
Praneeth
No, you wont have to pay for this. Correctly servicing a rental car is not your charter. Contracting with the rental car company to rent a car that is in good mechanical condition is what you were trying to do.

I usually tell people to call the person back after hours (11pm your time?) The reason for the late call is to hopefully get voicemail. when on voicemail, thank them for contacting you and let them know that, due to the nature, gravity and severity, of this issue, you require all correspondence be performed in writing. alert them that you have sent a letter asking for specific items to xx email address. Provide them with your email address and ask them to follow up in regards to the email that you sent, or to email, you asking you to resend. thank them for their time and hang up.

Eventually you will be alerting them that, should they decide to put you into collections, they are required by law to indicate that you are openly disputing the claim.

In the short term you will start each piece of correspondence by information them that you did not cause the damage in question and you request that they drop the claim. You will eventually be telling them that all of the documentation that you have requested would be considered a normal part of the discovery process, should this issue move into court. This is how you alert them that you know they are required to turn these documents over.

that jackass who told you all maintenance records are up to date? Next time you speak to him, tell him to put up or shut up - okay, politely request for proof :)

Sit tight and don't worry. This is going to be case closed without payout from you.

Keep us informed on what occurs so we can guide you

P.s. stop telling everyone about leaving the lot with the oil change light on. It demonstrates lack of care for the vehicle.
 
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Neil Maley

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No, you wont have to pay for this. Correctly servicing a rental car is not your charter. ou
I don't think we can say this. The writer did a lot of driving with the light on, and has admitted it to the rental company. We asked him to try this as a last resort, there is no guarantee that it will work in this case. This is not a normal case of false damages - the writer had admitted to driving with the light on and not just around the block - a LOT.

We can only advise him to give it a try.
 
Oct 13, 2016
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I don't think we can say this. The writer did a lot of driving with the light on, and has admitted it to the rental company. We asked him to try this as a last resort, there is no guarantee that it will work in this case. This is not a normal case of false damages - the writer had admitted to driving with the light on and not just around the block - a LOT.

We can only advise him to give it a try.
A correction here.....I did not drive with the lights on throughout the trip.
If you are referring "Oil change" message then please refer this video below. This message can be reset easily.
The initial chime about Engine overheat came while I was driving on the highway. This went off immediately even before I could even realize that the warning sound was related to engine getting over-heated.
 
Oct 13, 2016
7
1
3
42
No, you wont have to pay for this. Correctly servicing a rental car is not your charter. Contracting with the rental car company to rent a car that is in good mechanical condition is what you were trying to do.

I usually tell people to call the person back after hours (11pm your time?) The reason for the late call is to hopefully get voicemail. when on voicemail, thank them for contacting you and let them know that, due to the nature, gravity and severity, of this issue, you require all correspondence be performed in writing. alert them that you have sent a letter asking for specific items to xx email address. Provide them with your email address and ask them to follow up in regards to the email that you sent, or to email, you asking you to resend. thank them for their time and hang up.

Eventually you will be alerting them that, should they decide to put you into collections, they are required by law to indicate that you are openly disputing the claim.

In the short term you will start each piece of correspondence by information them that you did not cause the damage in question and you request that they drop the claim. You will eventually be telling them that all of the documentation that you have requested would be considered a normal part of the discovery process, should this issue move into court. This is how you alert them that you know they are required to turn these documents over.

that jackass who told you all maintenance records are up to date? Next time you speak to him, tell him to put up or shut up - okay, politely request for proof :)

Sit tight and don't worry. This is going to be case closed without payout from you.

Keep us informed on what occurs so we can guide you

P.s. stop telling everyone about leaving the lot with the oil change light on. It demonstrates lack of care for the vehicle.

Thanks so much for your kind reply....
At no point of time have I deviated from standard driving protocol. I shall keep the forum posted about further turn up of events.
 
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Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,366
23,327
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
A correction here.....I did not drive with the lights on throughout the trip.
If you are referring "Oil change" message then please refer this video below. This message can be reset easily.
The initial chime about Engine overheat came while I was driving on the highway. This went off immediately even before I could even realize that the warning sound was related to engine getting over-heated.
I think I am confused. I thought you had the oil light on as soon as you got in the car and drove with it on the entire time.

I still say you should continue to request the maintenance records we advised you to. Don't take no for an answer. If they are trying to sue you for the damage to the car they should provide you with the paperwork.