— A Chrysler lifetime powertrain warranty lawsuit alleges that forcing customers to have their powertrains inspected once every five years for free is an "unconscionable provision" of the warranty.
According to the proposed class-action lawsuit, the Chrysler (FCA US) lifetime limited powertrain warranty inspection policy wasn't explained to customers before they purchased vehicles.
The section of the warranty the plaintiff claims is "unconscionable" says this:
"In order to maintain the Lifetime Powertrain Limited Warranty, the person or entity covered by this Powertrain Limited Warranty must have a powertrain inspection performed by an authorized Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep dealer once every 5 years. This inspection will be performed at no charge. The inspection must be made within sixty (60) days of each 5 year anniversary of the in-service date of the vehicle. You must have the inspection performed to continue this coverage."
The lawsuit includes 2006-2009 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles sold on or after July 26, 2007. Included are all current and former original owners of vehicles who were denied coverage under the lifetime powertrain warranty based on the 5-year inspection clause.
The powertrain warranty lawsuit was filed by plaintiff Wendy Hightman, owner of a 2007 Jeep Patriot she purchased in October 2007. Hightman says she brought the Jeep to a dealer in March 2017 because of a whining sound coming from the transmission.
The lawsuit alleges technicians said the sound was coming from a transmission leak in the right axle, and the problem was repaired under the lifetime powertrain warranty.
In July 2018, the plaintiff brought the Jeep back to the dealer because the check engine light was on. Technicians determined the engine gasket needed to be replaced, but the dealer said the fix wouldn't be covered by the powertrain warranty.
The dealer referred to the warranty policy terms about the 5-year inspection and told the plaintiff she didn't hold to the terms.
The lawsuit alleges the Jeep underwent a second powertrain inspection when the plaintiff took the vehicle in for repairs, but she was denied warranty coverage because the inspection didn't occur within 60 days of the second 5-year anniversary.
In addition to refusing to replace the engine gasket, the plaintiff claims Chrysler voided the lifetime warranty and Hightman had to pay $2,307.16 to repair the Jeep.
According to the lawsuit, the Jeep was brought to the dealer in July 2018 due to transmission failure and FCA again refused to cover repairs under the powertrain warranty. The plaintiff says she was stuck with paying $5,128.87 to get the Jeep back on the road.
The plaintiff alleges FCA has used the lifetime limited powertrain warranty as a major selling point without informing customers of the inspection clause. Advertisements allegedly don't disclose the inspection requirement, an inspection that is free for a customer, but instead "unfairly surprised" vehicle owners with the clause.
In addition, the lawsuit alleges the terms and conditions of the powertrain warranty were not available on FCA’s website and FCA’s customer service department was “not empowered to provide inquiring consumers with the terms and conditions of the Lifetime Powertrain Warranty."
The plaintiff claims a vehicle owner could not reasonably expect the inspection clause to be in the powertrain warranty because it allegedly serves no purpose and is "one-sided." The plaintiff also claims the clause is "unfair" because failure to abide by the warranty terms voids the warranty.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges customers purchased the vehicles because of the lifetime powertrain warranties but Chrysler "conveniently failed to mention the unconscionable terms and conditions."
The Chrysler lifetime powertrain warranty lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California - Wendy Hightman, et al., v. Fiat Chrysler US LLC, et al.