Joanne Litchko can still tell you why she loves her 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, even though it’s been more than a year since she first drove it off a dealer’s lot.
“Fun car to drive, love it,” she said. “It really handled nice.”
Then on Labor Day weekend – without warning – one of her tires went flat. She remembers hearing an unusual noise, just as she pulled into a shopping center. She looked at her dashboard and realized there was a problem.
“I see the driver rear tire go 5, 4, 3, 2, 0, no air – flat,” she said.
She checked it out and saw something sticking out of the tire’s sidewall.
“It looked like the size of an eraser head from a pencil,” she said. “It was still hanging on but, you know, it popped out and I go that is just odd.”
According to Litchko, the dealership told her she had to go through Michelin – the tire maker – who directed her to find an authorized Michelin dealer online. But she says after weeks of phone calls and visits to several authorized dealers, she became frustrated.
“It was a game,” she said. “It was all left open for interpretation instead of having direct guidelines on what’s supposed to happen.”
Eventually, Michelin offered to replace all four tires.
“Even though Michelin says I was getting new tires, that’s not an easy thing either,” she said.
Her original tires were no longer available. She called NBC 6 Responds and spoke with consumer producer, Luz Sanchez, after her replacement tires were delayed.
“She saved me a lot of my money, time and aggravation and she got my life back,” she said.
Within days, the backordered tires were shipped to a retail store where Litchko only had to pay to install them.
In an email, Michelin told NBC 6: “The damage to her original tires was not covered under the warranty” and that there was also a backorder on the recommended replacement tire. “Because of the delays created by the backorder, Michelin ultimately provided four replacement tires at no cost to Ms. Litchko…” adding that she “…accepted four free tires as a gesture of the Company’s good will when the original claim was not even covered by the warranty.” When pressed for further details, the Michelin representative did not respond.
Litchko, meanwhile, was thankful to no longer be driving on a spare tire.
“You don’t know how much more comfortable I feel driving,” she said.
Original manufacturer warranties will typically only kick in if a tire wears down sooner than the mileage driven on it or if the tire is defective (for example, if you notice bubbles forming around the tire’s sidewall). To cover anything else, you’ll typically need to buy an additional road hazard warranty, which Litchko did not buy. That will usually run about 10 to 15% of the cost of each tire.