POWELL (WATE) - Many used car dealers in East Tennessee offer third party extended warranties to customers. The guarantees provide a certain peace of mind for buyers who purchase high mileage vehicles.
A Powell man who bought an extended warranty called 6 On Your Side after he took his car in for repairs and the warranty company wouldn't pay.
Kareem Brewster had engine work performed on his car after it stopped running.
"They replaced a head gasket on it," he said.
Brewster says in mid-January a local garage did extensive work by changing the timing belt, plugs, thermostat. That was in addition to the replacing the head gasket and just to get his car running again.
The two-time Iraqi War vet paid more than $2,000 out of his own pocket for the repairs.
When he bought the six-year-old car last August, he purchased a third party extended warranty from C.A.R.S. Protection Plus. He paid $555 for a two-year guarantee.
He says he thought the warranty would give him some peace of mind, but that wasn't the case.
When the engine problem occurred Brewster figured he would be protected by his warranty.
The warranty reads "Seals, cylinder head gaskets, fluids, among other things are covered if there was a coolant leak."
Brewster kept the old head gasket. He says it shows where the coolant leak was located.
The warranty company claimed the problem wasn't caused by a leak.
"They said it wasn't a leak, but it was combustible air," Brewster said.
The warranty company said it did not send an adjuster to look at the gasket. C.A.R.S. Protection Plus told 6 On Your Side it goes by the shop's findings.
The company's director of operations says from the mechanic's diagnosis it was a combustion problem caused by pressure, not a coolant leak. He says combustion failures are not covered by the warranty.
"According to the way the paperwork is written, it should have been covered," said service writer Debbie Reed. "It specifically stated that it covered gaskets."
Reed works for the garage that fixed Brewster's car.
"Many of these companies choose to pick the kind of wording they need to make to work to their advantage," Reed said. "You are going to have combustion issue if you have a head gasket that's leaking. They just used that in reverse to say one problem caused the other, instead of it being the head gasket."
Brewster says he has no beef with the shop that made the repairs.
He's called the warranty company to dispute their findings. So did people at the garage.
"We've talked with them several times about the wording in the contract and what was wrong with the car," Reed said, "but they refuse to come back off their stance."
While the warranty is good for another 18 months, Brewster has lost faith in it.
"I got a warranty. I just want them to pay for it," he said.
C.A.R.S. Protection Plus told 6 On Your Side the company has no appeals process for its customers. They cannot send adjusters to review every repair that's made.
The operations manager told us their contract lists both covered components and those not covered in the warranty.
As for Kareem Brewster's situation, the company said it's done nothing wrong.
Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports can be seen every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:00 on WATE 6 News. If you have a consumer question send Don an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call his 6 On Your Side Hotline at (865) 633-5974.