How Long Should Automakers Be on the Hook for Defective Parts?


How long should an automaker remain responsible for poor workmanship?

Traditional car warranties range from about 36,000 to 100,000 miles, or between 3 and 10 years. Typically, if something major is going to go wrong with the vehicle, it’ll happen within the warranted time frame.

Sometimes, however, poor workmanship or defective materials surface after a warranty expires. Automakers can issue recalls to deal with these kinds of problems, and they sometimes do–but usually a car owner is left responsible for repairs.

In 2012, Volkswagen settled a $69 million class-action lawsuit to address the issue of leaking sunroofs in nearly 3 million cars between model years 1997 and 2009. The Audi A4, A6, and A8 were included in the settlement.

The 2007-2009 Audi Q7 was excluded, but owners across the country are now experiencing flooded interiors due to the same problem. Should Audi be on the hook?

Full disclosure: I own a 2008 Q7 and have experienced the problems associated with a leaky sunroof.

Water saturated the driver-side floor carpeting and filled the rear spare-tire hatch of my Q7, which shorted out the tail lights. Videos are below. My local dealer confirmed the leak was from faulty sunroof tubes, and quoted at least $2,500 to repair the problem.

After about six weeks of going back and forth with Audi of America, the automaker declined to offer assistance in repairing the problem.

I’m not alone in this experience. In Audi forums across the online universe, Q7 owners are sharing similar stories and expressing frustration at Audi’s lack of action.

A participant in the AudiWorld forum said,

I have an Audi Q7 and during a bad rain in Tifton Georgia I had water pouring in under my drivers side brake pedal area. Turns out when Audi engineered the sun roof drains they used poor drain lines that split over time. It was not clogged the lines were split length wise and had to be replaced with an aftermarket corrected tubing. I had to pay for it out of pocket. I left Audi Jacksonville with new brakes, an oil change, and new sunroof drains for a grand total $5,000.00 out-of-pocket with no dealer help. I am waiting for the rear drains to do the same and start filling up my trunk with water like everyone else is seeing.

There are many pages of similar posts.

Since the warranties are expired, Audi has no obligation to address any of these issues. Common sense would suggest the company try to take care of problems for customers, but thus far the automaker has refused.

An Audi spokesperson said in an email, “Audi of America has reached a final decision with this matter. This notice is to inform you that the decision will remain unchanged. We are unable to meet your expectation of providing voluntary assistance to repair the sunroof on your 2008 Audi Q7.”

She also said that Audi won’t comment on its unwillingness to assist other Q7 owners, and addresses those on a case-by-case basis.

Have you ever owned a car that had an ongoing “built-in” problem the automaker wouldn’t fix? Feel free to share details on how you dealt with it.


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