I had an interesting call recently, a shop needed assistance with a problem on a repair of a current model Mini Cooper. This vehicle needed a new door replacement to complete the repair of the vehicle. The local dealer was unable to locate a replacement door for this vehicle anywhere in the U.S. dealer parts network. All repairs were completed on this vehicle except for the door and paint. The customer was out of rental coverage and the insurer did not offer or provide any assistance. The shop even obtained authorization from the customer to install a used door if one could be located. There were no good used doors available in the United States. Also, the dealer told the shop that there was another shop in the area that has been waiting two weeks longer for the same door.
The shop wanted to know if there was a law that required auto manufacturers to supply parts for their vehicles for a certain period of time after the sale of the year model and require the manufacturer to pay for a rental vehicle while waiting for the manufacturer to supply parts.
I contacted the CAA attorney and asked him to research the laws that would apply, if any, in this case.
The CAA attorney researched the laws that would apply to parts replacement and found two. The McCarran/ Ferguson warranty act and the Clean Air Act. The CAA attorney also contacted a CAA member that is a general manager of a large dealership to be sure his findings were correct.
The laws that are in effect protect the consumer from warranty fraud and ensure that all smog related parts are available as long as the vehicle is covered under the factory warranty. Since the Door damage did not require replacement as a result of a warranty issue, there are no laws that would require the manufacturer to pay for a rental or take extraordinary measures to supply parts.
The recommendation from the CAA attorney and the dealer general manager was for the customer to call the regional manager for the Mini Cooper manufacturer and complain to him/her about the situation. The shop had the customer do this and the result was that the regional manager contacted the customer and the shop and advised them that a door was located in Belgium and would be shipped to the shop immediately. The shop received the door in three days and completed the repair. Incidentally, the other shop was still waiting for a door.
CAA Northern California Rep. Pete Bezeck