Why aren’t brake rotors covered by my bumper-to-bumper warranty?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader wondering why a brake job wasn't covered.

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen.
The 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen. –Volkswagen

Q. I own a 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen. I purchased the car from a local Volkswagen dealer with a certified pre-owned bumper-to-bumper warranty. The brakes were pulsating at every revolution when stopping, and we asked the dealership to inspect and recommend what needed to be done. The diagnosis was warped rotors. They said they would resurface them for $225.  At the time, I questioned if this would be covered by the bumper-to-bumper warranty (which has an agreed-upon $50 deductible.) They said it would not. Shouldn’t a bumper-to-bumper warranty cover this work? 

A. Although VW calls it a bumper-to-bumper warranty, the fine print explains that when it comes to brakes, only the anti-lock (ABS) system is covered. This is typical of most extended service plans that cover certain components, but exclude parts that wear and are controlled by the driver — such as tires and brake pads/rotors. I’m surprised the dealership didn’t replace the rotors, rather than resurfacing them. New rotors from Volkswagen are $89 each and will stay straight and true longer than the resurfaced rotors. 

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Q. Yesterday we picked up our 2019 Mazda CX-3 from the dealership. It had been towed there because it would not start. We had driven it the day before with no issues. When we picked it up, they said there was no need for a new battery, everything looked fine. The battery needed to be charged which they did. One notation on the bill was that the technician had noted a red key light, which indicates the vehicle sees an aftermarket key programmed to the vehicle. Since the car was leased from the same dealership and has only been serviced there, that seems to be an impossibility. The red key light has remained on when the car is driven. When we called the service department about it, we were told that is normal. Needless to say, I have my doubts that this is normal and am wary that there is something else going on. What are your thoughts or recommendations?

A. According to Mazda’s vehicle owner’s manual, that isn’t what the red key light means. It states that if any malfunction occurs in the keyless entry system, the light will illuminate. This is typical of a faulty key fob battery. The manual goes on to say, “if the KEY warning indicator light illuminates or the push button start indicator light (amber) flashes, the engine may not start. If the engine cannot be started, try starting it using the emergency operation for starting the engine and have the vehicle inspected at an expert repairer. We recommend an Authorized Mazda Repairer as soon as possible.” 

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If the light was not on before and they left the keys in it overnight, the functions of the key left in the vehicle were temporarily suspended to prevent theft of the vehicle. To restore the functions, press the unlock button on the functions-suspended key in the vehicle. If the KEY warning light (red) illuminates or if the push button start indicator light (amber) flashes, this could indicate that the engine may not start using the usual starting method. At this point I would go through the reset procedure, and if the KEY light is still on, return to the Mazda dealer. 

Q. My 1965 Ford Mustang with a 289 V8 engine is making a chirping noise. I know it’s not the alternator, fuel pump, or water pump because we disconnected belts and the noise is still there. We also replaced the harmonic balancer. What could be causing the loud chirping noise when the engine is running? The mechanic cannot locate the source. 

A. You certainly covered all of the common items. At this point I would want to run the engine with the valve covers off. The cylinder heads on the 289 used either a slot in the cylinder head or a guide plate for the push rods. If the valves were misadjusted, the push rods would rub on the guide plates and make a chirping noise. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com. Listen to Car Doctor on the radio at 10 a.m. every Saturday on 104.9 FM or online at northshore1049.com.

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