Q: I hear an intermittent noise coming from the driver’s side vent. I’ve been in touch with Toyota Canada and it appears that they have no control over their dealer to provide me with a resolution. In 3,000 kilometres, my car will be out of warranty. What recourse do I have in a case like this?
—Afshin, Whitby, Ont.
A: Warranty coverage for an unresolved problem should be “locked in” at the date of the original complaint, but it often doesn’t work that way in practice. To protect yourself, document your efforts. Keep copies of correspondence with the dealer and automaker and make sure to obtain copies of repair orders when you take the car in for service. Short of going to small claims court, there is an alternative that can work well for situations like yours. Canada has an industry-paid arbitration program called CAMVAP that hears car disputes—particularly if you need a repair related to a defect in the car’s assembly or materials. You’ll need to fill out a claim form (in some cases the form alone may be enough to get the automaker’s attention), but by using the program you give up your right to use the courts. Still, compared to the courts, CAMVAP is lightning quick, with a turnaround of just 70 days from start to finish. As with any complaint process, evidence is good. If possible, take a technical expert with you to support your complaint, or use demonstrative evidence, like a video of the problem, or make the actual vehicle available for demonstration. CAMVAP arbitrator decisions are final and the person may order a manufacturer to repair the problem or buy back a defective vehicle. But buy-back conditions are restrictive and CAMVAP depreciates the vehicle quite aggressively, meaning you may take a large hit on the buy-back valuation.
—Georgy Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association