A London, Ont., man says that after months of searching for answers from Kia, he was refused a replacement engine on his recalled vehicle even though it was covered under the car company’s extended warranty.
Six months ago, Will Larocque’s 2014 Rondo’s engine died while he was driving. When he took the car to his local dealership in south London, Larocque said he was told he met the requirements for extended warranty coverage due to recall issues with Kia vehicles, including the Rondo.
When he heard it would be at least a month before his car was even looked at, and an extra six to eight months to have the engine replaced, Larocque tried a different location in hopes of quicker results, he said.
“I needed my car repaired quickly, so I had it towed to Kia Dundas, who told me they can look at it within the month. I waited, but no calls back or anything. They just kept prolonging it.
“They wouldn’t provide me with a rental car or any accommodations for not knowing when my vehicle would be serviced, so I had to buy a secondary car so I could maintain my job.”
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Dealership, website had different policies
Larocque was told by the dealership that the warranty had been extended to either 10 years or 200,000 kilometres, and he qualifies on both fronts because his mileage was 123,000 kilometres, he said. But on Kia’s website, the policy states that it’s either eight years or 160,000 kilometres.
Being without my Kia … means I have no idea when I can see my daughter.– Will Larocque, London, Ont.
When contacted by CBC News, Kia Canada declined to comment or clarify their policy because the matter is being actively investigated.
Larocque said he needs a car to travel back and forth from his job in Woodstock — about 30 kilometres east of London. He also has a daughter who lives in Kettle Point, and he’s unable to see her without a vehicle, he said.
“I normally see her about twice a month, so being without my Kia and being told on a regular basis that, ‘We don’t know when your car will be repaired,’ means I have no idea when I can see my daughter,” he added.
Two months after his Kia died, Larocque bought a used 2009 Volkswagen Golf for $5,000 out of pocket. But that engine also died, so he had to spend another $3,000 for engine replacement, plus windshield repairs.
Larocque said he’s had to use public transportation and a bicycle to get around the city, bringing his travel and maintenance expenses close to a total $9,000.
After the wait period at the Dundas location, Kia did a diagnostic test on Larocque’s car and told him they found two misfire codes, leading them to believe he drove it without oil, so they rejected his coverage, Larocque said.
Larocque denies that, saying he’s kept up with his Kia’s maintenance for the four years he’s owned it, including regular oil changes. Three months before his engine died, Larocque had an oil change done — documents shown to CBC News verify that.
“There’s no leaking oil, no black smoke coming out, the engine itself was fine up until it just went poof,” he said.
WATCH | The problems with Canada’s recall system:
Tricky situations and no accountability
Engine failures on Kia vehicles are one of the most common complaints that George Iny at the Automobile Protection Association (AMA) says he has received in the last three years.
“It’s a tricky situation — you’re lured in by the hope that an existing safety recall which has a generous doubling of the standard warranty is going to cover you to get an improved engine at almost no cost to yourself, but you’re not told that delay could run into months,” Iny said.
Iny’s heard from consumers who say that in many cases, Kia’s reasons to deny them coverage have been due to missing service records from previous owners. This practice is prohibited in Quebec under the Consumer Protection Act , but can still be argued in Ontario, he added.
There’s no leaking oil, no black smoke coming out, the engine itself was fine up until it just went poof.– Will Larocque, London, Ont.
“There’s a design problem with these engines. It’s serious and they’re not tolerant of running low on oil, so if it gets down more than a litre, you could get severe damage,” Iny believes.
“The owners are not told that. Even the manual makes you think that you could run 12,000 kilometres without any oil changes. Kia’s really close to the bottom of the barrel when it comes to warranty administration.”
Last year, a joint CBC Marketplace and Go Public investigation found that recalls on millions of Kia and Hyundai vehicles have dragged on since 2015, with more models added to the list.
Both Larocque and Iny believe the company needs to take more accountability and give timely service to customers. Larocque plans to take legal action against Kia, he said.
“The customer service from Kia and the dealership has just been atrocious,” Larocque said. “Out of 12 calls I’ve made, I’ve received back maybe three or four. This is a very stressful situation.”