Jesse Jones

This man’s extended warranty was void before the car left the lot

CENTRALIA, Wash. — Mateo Arteaga-Cruz’s dream was to buy a souped up 2013 Mitsbushi Lancer Evolution. Now, it’s parked in his garage.

“This is crazy to me, I’m finally going to buy my dream car. I’ve been talking about this since I was in high school,” he remembers thinking. “It has aftermarket intake, it has aftermarket exhaust. It’s tuned.”

He bought the car from BMW Bellevue for $29,000. But he says the problems started just two days after he drove it off the lot.

“And I hear a pop. Car dies completely. There’s no power to the car at all,” says Mateo.

It was a fast and furious failure.

And that’s why it’s staying in the garage.

“I basically just see debt. That’s all I’m seeing in my garage,” says Mateo. “They said it’s total engine failure. That the, it threw a rod through the block.”

But hey everything should be OK, right? Because of the $3,500 extended warranty Mateo bought along with the car.

“I called them on the same - within 20 minutes after the car blew up,” says Mateo. “They said you’re covered. You’re covered, you bought the warranty. You have the best warranty that we offer.”

But he says his claim was denied because the warranty doesn’t cover cars that have been modified.

“They definitely knew,” says Mateo. “They were talking up the car about how it’s modified, how it’s tuned. How fast it is. How aggressive it sounds and all this stuff. They knew it was modified.”

Mateo says trying to get the dealership to take care of the matter to his satisfaction, including asking for a full refund, was problematic.

“There was a lot of ‘I can’t, not really’ that they don’t want to. Of course they’re going to make it sound like they would if they could but he basically was just telling me that they’re not going to do that,” says Mateo.

Jesse Jones called BMW of Bellevue and the general manager sent KIRO 7 an email saying the finance manager “didn’t know the car was altered as we rarely ever have altered cars offered for sale. In order to prevent this from happening again, we have decided not to stock altered vehicles anymore.”

Kevin Brasler, from the non-profit Puget Sound Consumer’s Checkbook, had an immediate reaction to Mateo’s situation.

“They should have never sold the policy to begin with!”

Brasler has studied extended warranties and says they’re not a good deal in general.

“I mean, they have so many exclusions,” says Brasler. “Some policies are built up with exclusions for things that you know you and I would think you know reasonably, a policy like these that promises total protection against repair bills would cover. Like brake systems. A lot of the policies that we looked at, they don’t cover your battery. If you need a battery replacement for a hybrid car.”

Once we got the Mateo and the dealership talking, the two worked quickly to take care of the entire issue.

And great news! The dealership canceled Mateo’s purchase and service contract.

The experts we spoke to say if you are going to buy a used car, have the car inspected by a mechanic before you buy. Because it may have a problem the contract won’t cover.

And if you’re set on an extended warranty to protect that investment, check the exclusions first. It’s the most important part of that kind of contract.

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