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What would you do? (warrantee issue)
Old 07-09-2008, 12:04 PM   #1
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What would you do? (warrantee issue)

I have recently found myself in a warrantee dispute with a certain US manufacturer of lawn mower engines and I just wanted to get a feel for what other people would do in my situation.

Some background info: I am a 28yo first time home owner. Purchased a new Toro self-propelled mower last June (MSRP around $450 I believe). I set up the mower at home, put in the required viscosity oil for my area (NE) and used it for half a season last year and a few time this year. I have about 0.3 acres, total time per user ~1hr. Total engine operation -less than 20hrs.

Manufacturer Recommended Maintenance Schedule: change oil after 5 hrs then again after every 50.

Long story short, I was using the mower in early June when it sputtered out and died. I checked the fuel and oil levels and everything was fine. Started it back up, it ran for a few minutes and then self-destructed on my front lawn. Apparently it threw the piston which then blew out a rather sizable chunk of the engine case. Brought mower to recommended service provider who tore it down and sent it off to Briggs. I just received a letter in the mail yesterday stating that a lack of lubrication caused the failure and the warrantee claim was denied.

I'll be the first to admit that I did not change the oil at the 5hr interval. However with less than 20hrs total I don't see how the engine doesn't blow up before the 50hr interval even if I changed at 5 (also I didn't tell them this). Also the engine oil level was fine, I assume that they are referring to a breakdown in the oil's viscosity.

I'm upset that they aren't even offering an at cost replacement for the wrecked engine. I was planning on drafting a letter informing both Toro and Briggs that they have lost a customer for life over some ~$200. I plan to keep my response civil but was just wondering what others would do in my place

Just FYI, I already bought a Honda when the service provider took a look before sending the engine out and informed me that there was very little chance that Briggs would warrantee the issue, that and I don't think my significant other would let me go 1 week, let alone 2 months without mowing the lawn.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:23 PM   #2
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Did you get the letter from Toro, or Briggs, about the engine problem??
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:31 PM   #3
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Lesson learned? RTB (Read (and Heed) the Book). Unfortunately, for you, by apparently ignoring the rules (and being honest, you admitted it) you gave Briggs the out they needed (and planned for) to deny your warranty claim. B&S motors are fine machines (and in most everything with a gas engine) but, like all things, some go early. Since you have "moved on" to a Honda (wonder who makes those engines) I doubt there is much you can do about it. Good luck with the Honda.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:32 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by OAG View Post
Lesson learned? RTB (Read (and Heed) the Book). Unfortunately, for you, by apparently ignoring the rules (and being honest, you admitted it) you gave Briggs the out they needed (and planned for) to deny your warranty claim. B&S motors are fine machines (and in most everything with a gas engine) but, like all things, some go early. Since you have "moved on" to a Honda (wonder who makes those engines) I doubt there is much you can do about it. Good luck with the Honda.
I have a Briggs motor in my 14 year old John Deere push mower, and it still runs like a watch.........

The honesty of OP killed his chances, unfortunately..........
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:03 PM   #5
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I have a Briggs motor in my 14 year old John Deere push mower, and it still runs like a watch.........

The honesty of OP killed his chances, unfortunately..........
But I didn't tell them about not changing the oil...
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by OAG View Post
Lesson learned? RTB (Read (and Heed) the Book). Unfortunately, for you, by apparently ignoring the rules (and being honest, you admitted it) you gave Briggs the out they needed (and planned for) to deny your warranty claim. B&S motors are fine machines (and in most everything with a gas engine) but, like all things, some go early. Since you have "moved on" to a Honda (wonder who makes those engines) I doubt there is much you can do about it. Good luck with the Honda.
I agree that even the best products can have some that fail early. I'm more disapointed that they aren't offering me ANYTHING. Seems kinda silly to blow off someone who still has another 5-6 mower purchases, let alone other small engine purchases.
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:29 PM   #7
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I agree with OAG. The reason that they want you to change the oil at the 5 hour mark is that a new engine will shed metal as it's breaking in. That metal goes into the oil (and most is hopefully caught by the filter), and that's why the first oil change is the most important. If you don't do that first oil change, all the metal in the oil will cause wear on your engine. You failed to do the required oil change, and have learned an expensive lesson.

They may have been able to deny your claim just based on the amount of metal in your oil indicating that the recommended changes hadn't been done. Regardless, the company doesn't owe you anything.

Oil is (relatively) cheap. Engines are expensive. Change the oil by the book, and most engines will have serve you long and well.
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:49 PM   #8
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I'd keep persuing it . The want you to just go away .Don't do it . Call them , write the head of Toro and push the issue . I've done this a few times and they usually end up giving you something .
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:35 PM   #9
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Oh man, another reason to buy depreciating assests used .... If it's gonna break, it'll happen in the first few hours.
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:43 PM   #10
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obey the following rule

1) buy japanese
2) read rule #1

briggs does have good product. u might just got some bad luck.
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:03 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Enuff2Eat View Post
obey the following rule

1) buy japanese
2) read rule #1

briggs does have good product. u might just got some bad luck.
correction; Briggs USED to have a good product. The newer engines are engineered right at the edge.
Personally, I like the Subaru engines. or Honda,...or Kawasaki,...or Yamaha...
Didn't someone just say to buy Japanese?
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:47 PM   #12
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In addition to the metal wear in the first 5 hours, does B&S use a 'break in' oil? This is done sometimes, and it is meant to be flushed out after a short while. It will not hold up in the long run.

If B&S does use break-in oil, it could be that they tested the oil, saw that it was the original and thus denied the claim.

But I don't know that B&S does this, but it would explain it.

edit/add: my current riding mower is a B&S - 6 years on it at about 30-plus hours/year. And I don't baby it at all. Previous mower lasted 11 years, burning a little oil ( I assume it was a B&S, can't recall, was a 'murry' brand tractor), sold it for $50 or so because the front axle was cracking (which I informed the guy of). I would have no reason to avoid B&S myself.

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Old 07-09-2008, 04:47 PM   #13
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Tongue-in-cheek over-reaction response: (this disclaimer required since some seem to take everything I post literally) :

If you have the time to spend on this....

If you live on or near a busy street, you could make a bold 4'x8' sign extolling your issues with their product (Toro, most people won't know who B&S is) Something along the lines of "Toro is crap, this new lawnmower blew up after only a few hours of use- Don't buy Toro, they won't honor their warranty" and park it out by the curb on a busy Saturday morning. Send Toro a photo of the lawnmower and sign with a bunch of concerned neighbors standing around discussing it...

Get the local action guy from the news involved.

Sue in small claims court- they probably won't even show up.



My actual advice:

You probably got a lemon- but not changing the oil didn't help you or the engine.

Or just move on, life is too short for the stress this could cause.
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Old 07-09-2008, 05:02 PM   #14
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If it were me, I would realize I fouled up by not following the directions (and this won't be the first time as a new home owner) and move on. They didn't put the instructions in there because they have a huge oil futures position.

If you want them to take care of it, then call Toro. Escalate it. Send a letter to the CEO. Find the CEO's number and call direct (you'll get their senior staff, they can deal with it quickly).
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Old 07-09-2008, 05:23 PM   #15
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I'd suck it up and change the oil in the Honda.
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Old 07-09-2008, 05:25 PM   #16
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I agree with ProspectiveBum. The first oil change is the most important for the stated reasons. I've owned a bunch of Briggs engines and never had any problems with them. The products they were mounted on is another story though.

You'll probably like the Honda mower. I bought mine in 1986 and it still runs fine, but I am meticulous about maintenance.
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Old 07-09-2008, 05:44 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigwonderfulwyoming View Post
If you have the time to spend on this....

If you live on or near a busy street, you could make a bold 4'x8' sign extolling your issues with their product (Toro, most people won't know who B&S is) Something along the lines of "Toro is crap, this new lawnmower blew up after only a few hours of use- Don't buy Toro, they won't honor their warranty" and park it out by the curb on a busy Saturday morning. Send Toro a photo of the lawnmower and sign with a bunch of concerned neighbors standing around discussing it...

Get the local action guy from the news involved.

Sue in small claims court- they probably won't even show up.
...
Wow, how would you feel if someone bought a product or service from you, misused/misapplied it, and then told you and everyone you knew that *you* were crap?

OP, please don't do this. Any cost that B&S or Toro has to spend on this would just be passed along to the rest of the consumers (that would be *me* ), even the ones that read the manual and follow the instructions. People need to take responsibility for their (lack of) actions, not just try to pawn the problem off on some 'big company'. It's not the end of the world, live & learn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kumquat View Post
I'd suck it up and change the oil in the Honda.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProspectiveBum View Post
.... If you don't do that first oil change, all the metal in the oil will cause wear on your engine. You failed to do the required oil change, and have learned an expensive lesson.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
The first oil change is the most important for the stated reasons.
Yep, and this is right from the B&S site, I assume it is in the manual also. BTW, I did not add the bold - it is there on their site.

What are the recommended break-in procedures for my engine?
Quote:
It is very important to perform the initial break-in oil change, however. After the first 5-10 hours of operation, the oil should be changed to remove asperities that have broken from the bearings of the engine components and cylinder wall.
Probably a good time to look through all the manuals for stuff you have that requires routine maintenance. If you missed this, you may have missed others. Also, eat your vegetables, floss and don't talk to strangers

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Old 07-09-2008, 05:50 PM   #18
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Oh, I also read (but didn't fully confirm) that B&S uses a dye in the original oil. Supposedly to check for leaks on the production line, but it would also be very strong proof that the maintenance procedures were not followed in this case. If they have those test results recorded, I don't think you'll get anything from them. They have an iron-clad case.

If they gave in, word would get out, people would get lax about this. It would hurt profits, and raise prices for everyone. Not good.

Follow the maintenance schedule. Period.

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Old 07-09-2008, 08:07 PM   #19
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Jay,

I would recommend writing a letter to the CEO of both companies. The executive relations teams can make exceptions much easier than lower parts of the org. At least that's how it works at my soon to be not current company.
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:19 PM   #20
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Wow, how would you feel if someone bought a product or service from you, misused/misapplied it, and then told you and everyone you knew that *you* were crap?
This is the same person that was browbeating us for not buying American and lamenting the fact that all of our manufacturing jobs were going overseas. I guess we had to send them there due to rising costs from customers that should have been fired
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