**SPOILER ALERT** – I WON! I won against Chrysler Canada, and they were forced to buy back my 2012 Dodge Ram, full price without any deductions. Read below!
I wanted to write about my experience with CAMVAP, because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of written, detailed stories out there. Most of the story’s on the blogs, or forums regarding CAMVAP aren’t finished, or don’t describe other peoples experiences in detail. I want to write, and tell about my experience CAMVAP, and Chrysler Canada. So below, I have written a review, a guide, and a story all mixed together about my experience with CAMVAP. So here it goes, hang in there, it’s a little long!
On August 18, 2012, I bought a 2012 Dodge Ram, 4×4, 5.7L HEMI, from Dale Wurfel in Strathroy, Ontario. To make a REALLY long story short, shortly after taking delivery of the truck, the engine would produce a low end, dull knocking noise whiling idling. This knocking noise was constant. Whether it was warm, cold, or hot. It ALWAYS did it. As well, the transfer case would grind and bang after switching to 4×4.
Here are the 2 videos of my issues.
1) Engine knocking
2) Transfer case grinds when using 4WD
I immediately notified Dale Wurfel, and they offered NO help at all. In fact, the service manager told me to go elsewhere. I wrote a detailed story / review about Dale Wurfel here. This link tells the story of the troubles I had with this dealership. You can get an idea of what I went through trying to service my BRAND NEW truck. TL;TR: They did ZERO troubleshooting, and told me to take it elsewhere.
I decided to take the truck to Oxford Dodge for them to have a look at it. Well, that didn’t really help either. I wrote a detailed story / review about Oxford Dodge HERE. This link tells the story of what happened at Oxford Dodge. TL;TR: Oxford Dodge rebuilt a brand new motor, then replaced the short block, then rebuilt the transfer case, then changed the front axle, but still couldn’t get the 2 original problems corrected. It seemed like they had no idea what they were doing, or how these trucks work.
During all these dealership visits, I was also corresponding with Chrysler Canada Corporate. This is important! CAMVAP isn’t about resolving a dispute between YOU and the DEALER. It’s about resolving a dispute between YOU and the MANUFACTURER. If you’re having problems with the dealership, not fixing your vehicle, or not fixing it properly, your first step is to call the manufacturer customer assistant line. They will assist you in getting your vehicle repaired properly. If the manufacturer is unable, or not willing to help, and you’ve given them, and the dealer ample time to fix your issue, that’s when you can use the assistants of CAMVAP. I see CAMVAP as your LAST RESORT. CAMVAP is NOT a way to manipulate the dealer to fix your vehicle. Don’t waste CAMVAPS time unless you are willing to put in the work to see it to completion. Make sure you exhaust all avenues with the dealer, and manufacturer first. This might mean calling the manufacturer numerous times and pleading with them,. This is very important! Trust me!
Here’s a TIP: You bought the vehicle, and it’s yours to keep through THICK AND THIN! If you have a problem, let the dealership fix it. That’s what warranty is for! Cars and trucks have A LOT of moving parts, and sometimes things can go wrong. Don’t assume that because you have an issue within the first few weeks of ownership it automatically gets you an excuse to have a new vehicle, or your vehicle bought back. If you think this, most times it doesn’t result in this, and y0u’ll just stress yourself out. Alright, now onto the rest of my story.
A couple things come to mind when you’re in this stage:
- Keep a word document of everything that goes on at the dealer, and with manufacturer. Add everything that everyone says to this document, and create your own time line.
- Use a calendar to keep track of the days the vehicle goes into the shop, and days it comes out
- I would suggest voice recording ALL conversations, just in case. If this goes to arbitration, voice recordings are way better then ‘he said, she said’
- Give the dealer, or multiple dealers AMPLE opportunity to fix the problem. In my case, my truck was at the dealer for 12 visits. I understand that if you have a major issue, you don’t want it repaired, and just want a new vehicle, and your first instinct is to go to CAMVAP, and hope for a buy-back. This ain’t gonna happen! You MUST give the dealer time to fix the issue. And if they can’t, try a different dealer. You must show CAMVAP that you were willing to let the dealer do the repairs.
- Make sure you get Work Orders for ALL repairs. Also, make sure they are accurate, and have detailed information in them.
- Don’t threaten the dealership, or the manufacturer that you are going to contact CAMVAP. It doesn’t work, and they don’t care. It’s an empty threat to them, and most times they are right. As well, don’t bother saying you are going to get a Lawyer. Most times as soon as the manufacturer hears the word lawyer, they shut down, and send the case to legal. Now your screwed unless you were actually going to contact a lawyer.
After all the failed repairs from Oxford Dodge, they got so frustrated in the truck, and gave up. They basically said that everything was fine, their are no problems, and refused to look at it any further. As well, Chrysler Canada gave up, and refused to allow a fix for my 2 issues. Chrysler Canada’s response was “Your vehicle is performing as intended, no further repair”. I begged them to continue trying to find the issue of the grinding noise, but they refused.
This is when I was basically forced to start the CAMVAP process. The dealership refused to look at my truck any further, as well as Chrysler Canada. I even made a few more calls to Chrysler Canada, and asked them to reconsider, and they would not. So, after fighting for 6-8 months regarding my engine knocking, and transfer case grinding, on May 2nd, I filled out a CAMVAP form to start the process for arbitration. If you feel that your ready for CAMVAP, first, READ THIS PDF. If gives you a great overview of how the process starts, and finished. It’s a MUST read!. After, when you’re ready, you can start the arbitration process using this link. Here, you fill out basic information about your case. After filling this out, a CAMVAP representative will contact you, and verify some information. They ask questions like, “How many times was the vehicle in the dealership”, and “Have you contacted the manufacturer”, etc, etc. I think at this point, they are trying to filter out any cases that aren’t yet ready for CAMVAP. If they feel your case is ready for CAMVAP, they send all this information to the Manufacturer. According to the above PDF, the manufacturer has 3 days to respond to your claim, and give a brief answer to your issues. Once this is complete, CAMVAP will send you a packet with all the information necessary to start the process. I received my packet via email, but I think sometimes they mail it. Give the CAMVAP office a call, and let them know how you prefer your package.
Once you received your packet, the first question you must ask yourself is if you want a buyback, or a repair. At first, I decided to ask for a repair. All I wanted was for Chrysler Canada to repair my truck properly so I could drive it. I think this option gives you a better chance of winning your arbitration. It shows CAMVAP that you are willing to allow the manufacturer to fix your issues, and your not just looking for a quick buy-back so you can buy a brand new truck. Proving, or showing the arbitrator that you allowed the dealer to repair the issue is very important! After some consideration, I decided that Chrysler Canada, and the dealership has had AMPLE time to fix my truck properly. This is when I decided on asking for a buy-back.
Here are my reasoning’s for asking for a buy-back, instead of a repair:
- After 72 days, and 12 dealership visits, that is enough time to fix a truck properly. What will ordering another repair accomplish if they already had 72 days?
- After 2 engines, 1 transfer case, 1 front axle, I was concerned with the resale value of the truck. I was concerned that if I brought the truck to a dealer for a trade-in, they would use this repair history against me and offer a lower value.
- Since I was still having the issues, how could I ethically sell this truck to someone else down the road?
- I really didn’t feel Chrysler Canada knew what was causing this problem, and didn’t think they could fix it properly.
Because of those reasons alone, I felt I had a good case to prove that a buy-back was the best, and most fair option for everyone.
Along with the form inside the packet, you must send all Work Orders that you’ve accumulated during your dealings with the dealership. If you have any other evidence, send it in with the form. Any pictures, videos, recordings, articles that support your theories, etc, etc. All these details get passed along to the arbitrator, as well as the manufacturer.
** NOTE! – Once you sign this form, and send it back, you are agreeing to the rules of arbitration. If you lose, you are bound to that decision. Keep this in mind! If you give a bad presentation, and lose, the manufacturer doesn’t have to fix your vehicle down the road if the issue continues. Maybe, instead of CAMVAP, your better off driving it for a few months, and maybe revisiting the issue later down the road. Or maybe wait till the issue gets a lot worse, and easier to convince the dealer to fix it! **
After sending in all forms, and evidence, and WO’s, CAMVAP then sends everything to the manufacturer. According to the above PDF, the manufacturer has 10 business days to send back their “answer”, as well as any documents, or evidence they have collected. In my case, their answer was “To the best of our knowledge, Consumers vehicle is performing as intended at this time.” They also list everyone they plan to send to the hearing. Basically, you, and the manufacturer are “disclosing” any evidence you have on one another.
After about 1 month, CAMVAP called, and gave me a hearing date which was only about 2 weeks away. I was expecting it to be months away, so I felt unprepared. However, I was determined to give a good, thorough presentation, and do my best at telling the arbitrator my story.
A couple tips that come to mind, when you’re preparing, and giving your presentation:
- Read this website – It’s about another person who went through CAMVAP, and won. He shares a lot of good tips on how to present your case, and gives a list of what to do, and what not to do.
- Go to the CAMVAP website, and read through EVERYTHING! They also give some great tips on things to say, and things not to say. This is really important. I strongly urge you to read everything here. It even gives you an outline of what the hearing will look like, and really helps when you’re putting your presentation together.
- Get a piece of bristol board, and tape monthly calendars to it. Use this to place an X on the day that anything happens. Example: If your truck goes into the dealership, X. If you have to call the manufacturer, X, etc, etc. It really gives a good picture of the amount of time you put in getting this truck fixed.
- Type out your presentation in full, with all dates the trucks went into the shop, and all dates that you corresponded with Dealer or Manufacturer. This is basically your oral presentation that you will read from during the presentation. The reason why it’s good to have this paper, is because the arbitrator can take it afterwards, and have something to review when they make their decision. This is important, and it helped 100% in my case.
- Like the CAMVAP website says, and the blog above, create a route from the meeting place, and make sure you can duplicate the issues your having. It’s very important to show the arbitrator the issues with you vehicle. So practice and make sure these issues appear during your hearing.
- Remember, the arbitrator is NOT a technical expert. So, if you need to bring diagrams to help illustrate your issue, then do so. Also, you can find articles on the internet that help prove your issue is a problem. Print these articles out, and submit them as evidence. (Just make sure you also submit this article with your CAMVAP form, along with Work orders, etc)
- Practise, Practise, Practise. Read through your presentation numerous times until you are completely comfortable with it.
- Avoid slander in your presentation. The arbitrator isn’t concerned about all the bad things the dealer said to you when you were in for repair. However, sometimes you need to show the arbitrator the struggles you went through with the dealer. Just make sure you tell about it in a tasteful way. Just remember, your problems should be between YOU, and the MANUFACTURER. Stick to the story!
- Don’t think you can go into CAMVAP and just wing it. Seriously, put some effort into your presentation, and really show the arbitrator the struggles you’ve been through so far. Convince him!
My hearing was scheduled for August 31, 2013. It was set for 10am. I arrived at the hotel around 930, and went into the hotel meeting room. To my surprise, someone was already there. I introduced myself, and setup my presentation. I had an stand brought in the room to hold my bristle board calendar. I also had my presentation, and my articles, all set out. I also had the above videos, and pictures of the engine damage on my iPad, all ready to go. The arbitrator arrived, and basically give us an idea of what’s going to happen here. He also described what an Arbitrator is. We then swore to tell the truth, etc, etc. It was pretty laid back. He asked whether we wanted to demonstrate the noise on the truck first, or go right into my presentation. I asked if I could go ahead, and start presenting.
Here is a photo of my calendar.
The premise of my presentation was to convince the arbitrator that I had been through enough, and that further repairs were not fair to me as a consumer. I was to convince the arbitrator that these previous repairs hinder my future warranty, and resale value. So I centered my presentation around proving, or convincing this. This is important! Before creating your presentation, or story, figure out what you want to tell, or convince. Create a premise that your presentation resolves around, and incorporate that premise in with your story, or timeline.
I started out with an opening argument. It basically gives the arbitrator an idea of what’s to come. It’s almost a summary. After the opening statement, I went right into my presentation. I read my presentation on paper, while looking up at the Arbitrator, and marking off the calendar. Every time I had a correspondence with anyone, I added it to the calendar. During the presentation the Arbitrator did ask a few questions, trying to understand the timeline. Also during the presentation, I showed pictures of what I collected, as well as the videos of my problems. My presentation took about 30-40 minutes to go through.
My presentation was about 16 pages. It basically gives the whole story from the start, to the end. I tried my hardest to keep on point, and short. A lot of the point I had to make need to show that this whole process was extremely frustrating, and going through it again for a repair was not wanted.
Once my presentation was finished, CAMVAP said it was now the manufacturers turn to speak, and tell their side of the story. In my case, my presentation, and story was so compelling, that the Manufacturer didn’t have ANYTHING to say or add. He did say that he was disgusted, and flabbergasted by Chrysler Canada’s behavior and decisions. He said it was mind boggling how they decided to rebuild that engine, instead of replacing it completely. I think he was a little embarrassed about representing Chrysler Canada. He was however interested in hearing the knocking noise, and grinding noise.
So, after the presentations we went out to the parking lot, so the manufacturer, and the arbitrator could hear the noises in question. (Previous to this hearing, I figured out that the best way to hear the noise, is a short drive after starting the truck in the morning. So the night before the hearing, I left the truck at the hotel, so I could cold start it in the morning.) I started the truck, and the 3 of us went for a drive around the block. When we got back, the knocking noise was very evident. The manufacturer listened to the noise, and didn’t know what was causing it. He said in order to determine that, a engine tear down would be needed. We also discussed the grinding noise, and I explained that I couldn’t demonstrate that noise right now, because it only happens on snow, ice or mud. I also said that I’m not comfortable reproducing this grinding noise on dry pavement, or anything other then a very slippery surface, because of the damage that happens to the transfer case when this noise occurs.
The arbitrator also did a walk around of the truck, looking for any damage to the vehicle. We then signed a piece of paper showing their was no damage, or visible scratches.
We came back in, and finished up the case. The arbitrator asked both myself, and the manufacturer what we thought about a technical inspection. I said I would be willing to do that, but just like the manufacturer recently said, the inspector would have to tear the engine down, to find out where the noise was coming from. I explained that another repair, or inspection is what I’m trying to avoid, since it’s been repaired and inspected for 72 days already. We talked about the buy-back amount, and made sure both myself, and the manufacturer agreed on the amount in case their was a buy-back. I handed out my presentation to the arbitrator so he had something to review when he was making his decision. He said he would review everything, and make his decision within 14 days.
Well, on August 9th, CAMVAP sent me the award from the arbitrator. It was a lengthy award, demonstrating why the arbitrator made the decision to award a buy back.
I won! I received a buy-back of my Dodge RAM in FULL, with no deductions of use! The arbitrator ruled on my side. The process took exactly 1 year to complete. 6-8 months fighting with dealerships, and manufacturer, and the rest going through the CAMVAP process. It was such a relief!
On August 23, I received a call from Oxford Dodge saying they have a cheque waiting for me, in the full amount of the truck. I simple drove the truck there, handed in the keys, and walked away with the cheque.
I have learnt A LOT about the CAMVAP process, and how dealers and manufacturers handle the process. If you have any questions at all, please email me, or comment on this story. I will do my best to help out!
The best part? I got to trade my RAM in for a Ford F-150. LOVE IT so far!