Omaha couple forced to pay for pickup engine amid vehicle warranty dispute

A dispute over extended warranty coverage forced one Omaha couple to pay over $10,000 out for a new pickup engine.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 10:32 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - After purchasing an extended warranty on their used pickup, Lyle and Dawn Sterba say an Endurance Warranty Services representative helped ram home confidence in coverage.

“I got the Endurance Insurance [because] they told me it would be peace of mind,” Lyle said. “It wasn’t peace of mind.”

That opinion is based on what happened when the couple needed repairs.

“We went down to the shop when about two blocks away, the ‘check engine’ light came on,” Lyle said.

The pickup needed a new engine that cost about $15,000, and Endurance paid $5,000 of that bill.

“They told me that they could tell by the damage to the motor that I drove it with the engine light on too long, which is not true,” Dawn said. “It came on two blocks before the repair shop.”

In a response to the Nebraska Attorney General, Endurance says it paid for the lifter camshaft that broke, but a company inspector alleges that driving instead of towing the pickup caused a complete engine failure, so the couple’s claim for a new motor was denied.

To cover the nearly $10,000 in unexpected costs for the new engine, Dawn had to take money out of her 401(k), and not just the cash, but she had to pay taxes on top of it, making the total closer to $13,000.

Former auto repair shop owner Jim Champion says extended warranty buyers need to read and understand the contract.

“If you got a check engine light that comes on and [starts] flashing, for example, or an oil light that comes on, you need to stop immediately,” Champion said. “If you do have an extended warranty and you continue to drive, sometimes that’s going to goof you up. They’re not going to pay for it because you didn’t do what you’re supposed to.”

Champion says anyone with an extended warrant should document every time their vehicle is serviced, including all oil changes.

The Better Business Bureau has posted alerts for Endurance Warranty Services of Chicago, listing around 2,200 complaints over the past three years — about half filed in the last 12 months.

“They’ve indicated they are willing to work with the bureau to try and slow down or resolve the issues that are lead to the misunderstanding consumers have about these contracts,” said Jim Hegarty with the Better Business Bureau.

6 News asked Endurance if paying only one-third of the Sterbas’ claim would be reconsidered, but has yet to hear back. Unless they do, Dawn will have to endure working beyond her planned retirement.

“[I have] replace an engine that I didn’t think I was going to have to pay for, so I’m going to have to work longer to recoup that retirement money,” Dawn said.