March 28, 2017 9:34 pm
Updated: March 28, 2017 9:44 pm

Mitsubishi safety recall: Customer told he would need to pay for damage caused by mechanics

WATCH ABOVE: Melbourne Keane says he wants Mitsubishi Motors to repair his vehicle, but thinks it’s outrageous he could be held liable for damage done by the dealership to complete the repairs. Sean O’Shea explains.

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When Melbourne Keane got a notice from Mitsubishi recently telling him to bring his vehicle in for a safety recall, he was surprised to hear what the dealer and the manufacturer had to say. If, in fixing the parts in question, mechanics caused other damage, it would be his responsibility to pay for those repairs.

“They told me that I will have to pay for any part that they damage during the repair and also any hours above the normal time it should take them,” Keane said, who drives a 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander.

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“I called and wrote to Mitsubishi Canada and they say that they will not pay for anything the dealer breaks, that it’s between me and them. I have never heard anything so ridiculously unfair.”

Keane was informed about Transport Canada recall 2016317, which was issued on June 21, 2016. The recall involves 64,305 Mitsubishi Outlander and Lancer models manufactured between 2003 and 2013.

“On certain vehicles, road salt can corrode the front cross member assembly, which may ultimately lead to separation of the control arm at the mounting point. This would allow the wheel to rotate off its designed axis, and could result in a loss of vehicle control and a crash causing property damage and/or personal injury. Correction: Dealers will inspect the cross member and apply an anti-corrosion treatment or replace the assembly, as required,” a summary of the recall read.

But after going to the dealership, Keane said he was informed that neither the dealership or Mitsubishi would be responsible for any collateral damage.

“If other parts on the vehicle are compromised during that process or are worn due to usage/age, we regret to inform you that the repairs or replacements for those parts are not covered under the parameters of the recall,” read an email to Keane from Mitsubishi Canada.

John Arnone, Mitsubishi Canada’s manager of public relations, explained that repairing some vehicles can be tricky.

“It gets even more complicated when items are worn and may be compromised during the repair or, if not compromised by the repair, show excessive wear and need to be replaced for safety’s sake,” Arnone wrote in an email.

“Nevertheless, our warranty team will have a look at Mr. Keane’s situation to determine if any support is possible.”

Global News contacted other auto manufacturers and dealers to determine their policies about charging customers for repairs associated with a recall.

“If we have to do something extra that pertains to the safety recall, it’s covered. Would we charge someone for a part if its damaged while fixing that recall? Absolutely not,” Toronto Honda spokesperson Rodney Romain said.

“If it’s damaged even on the lot, we’d cover that.”

Other manufacturers, including General Motors, Toyota, Fiat-Chrysler and Ford have not responded with their policies yet.

Under the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act, manufacturers are required to issue a “notice of defect (recall) when they become aware of a defect in the design, construction, or functioning of a vehicle that affects or is likely to affect safety,” Transport Canada spokesperson Daniel Savoie told Global News.

But Transport Canada said it does not have authority to force manufacturers to pay for repairs.

“In this case, the recall relates to corrosion of the front cross member on vehicles dating back to 2003. In replacing these recalled components, it is possible that other rusted or corroded parts may also require replacement or may be damaged during disassembly, especially on older cars. As the MVSA does not have authority over the costs of collateral repairs, Transport Canada does not have authority to compel Mitsubishi Canada to cover the costs of these parts and associated labour,” Savoie said.

Even if a manufacturer declares that it won’t pay for damages associated with a recall repair, consumers still have legal recourse.

“Should damage be incurred during the recall repair and the dealership wants the consumer to pay for this damage, the consumer may wish to take the matter to civil court,” Victoria Stacey, a media advisor with Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, said.

Keane said he wants to do the responsible thing and have his vehicle repaired as quickly as possible, but said it’s wrong to leave a consumer vulnerable for possible costs.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s outrageous, it’s ludicrous,” he said.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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