‘It’s been Hell and back’: A couple’s ongoing struggle with their car warranty

ORLANDO, Fla. — The used car warranty cost $3,000 but a local couple thought it offered real protection. But now they face paying thousands in repairs for a car they’ve not been able to drive for months.

“Nightmare is not even the word. It’s been hell and back,” Usman Balogun said.

Balogun and Heather Kennedy feel double-crossed by the used car warranty for their 2016 Mazda SUV.

Kennedy said the $3,000 six-year warranty from Smart AutoCare sounded like a good deal. “The dealership that we bought the car from was like, ‘Oh, this warranty is great and it’s going to cover all these things.’”

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The couple bought the used Mazda and the warranty two years ago. Last September, on Interstate 4, they say the car just shut down. It was towed to the dealership and its mechanics said the engine had to be replaced.

“It looks like your engine has seized. So, it’s going to need a new engine,” a mechanic from the dealership could be heard on video saying.

The dealer’s repair bill is nearly $8,000. The couple said they bought the warranty for this type of situation.

“It’s common sense. When you actually need the service, you would expect it to be taken care of,” Balogun said,

Their Mazda has been stranded at the dealership waiting for repairs for the last four months. Balogun and Kennedy claim Smart AutoCare kept denying their documented repair claims and all their appeals.

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Smart AutoCare is based in Texas and rated B+ at the Better Business Bureau there since it responds to complaints. There were at least 70 customer complaints in three years. One consumer said the company was very quick to issue a denial and close the case. Another consumer called their dealer’s repair estimate denial complete and utter garbage.

“There are often misunderstandings and misconceptions about what the policy will actually do for you,” said local BBB President Holly Salmons.

Salmons says that while certain car warranties can offer good protection, many limit what’s covered in the fine print, so don’t rush into it.

“If you are trying to make the decision at the finance table, it’s likely you won’t have time for adequate research,” Salmons said.

Action 9′s Todd Ulrich contacted Smart AutoCare and a spokesperson said that out of respect for the privacy of our customers and partners, they do not disclose details around specific claims.

Responding to other complaints, the company frequently said the car had not been maintained properly, or the repairs the vehicle needed were not covered by the warranty.

“Keep the promise. Keep the contract we signed,” Balogun said.

In Florida a warranty is regulated like insurance policies, and you can send a complaint to the state Department of Financial Services.

Smart AutoCare response:

At Smart Auto Care, we always strive to provide our customers with timely and effective service. Out of respect for the privacy of our customers and partners, we do not disclose details around specific claims.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.