85,000 miles and My Suzuki Extended Protection Warranty Experience
Iíve been off the site for a while, many months. I did check-in now and then but didnít post anything.
My quest for 100k miles, on my 2013 C50T, is still in progress, but not with the original engine.
I apologize in advance for the longevity of this post. I wanted to detail the events up to the claim so that current owners that have similar issues may find their solution quicker and if you have Suzuki Extended Protection, this will give you a little better understanding of what to look forward to and how to handle it.
A few things of note:
I do all my own maintenance. I keep all my receipts, and I document everything I do on all of my vehicles in spreadsheets. This turned out to be paramount in my claim with the agents at Suzuki Extended Protection(SEP). If you have or are thinking of purchasing the SEP, you MUST maintain accurate and detailed maintenance records. Do not trust your dealership or mechanic to do this on your behalf. Keep all notes and receipts as proof of the work done.
A Little History Prior to the SEP Event
In early January, 2018, I had about 73k miles on the bike put on over the last 4 years. In Southern California we were having some record hot spells, and in February 2018, I started having some issues with the bike overheating. I would ride it about 40 miles and it would throw the red temperature light just before the 40 mile mark in riding. Every time, I pulled over, shut it off, checked everything, and turn it back on. Fan would start up and the engine would cool right down.
One morning, I was preparing to go to work and noticed a few drops of fluid below the radiator overflow. This alarmed me, as over the last three years I had never seen any overflow. I use Evans Waterless coolant which doesnít expand like water or anti-freeze. I took pics and checked the fluid level in the radiator but it wasnít down much. It also had some little black nodules of powdery substance that simply crumbled between my fingers. I couldnít tell what that was or where it came from so I immediately called the folks at Evans Waterless Coolant, sent them some pics and they sent me some sample bottles to fill and return along with some fresh flush and coolant. Nice folks at Evans. They have excellent customer service, and were just as concerned as I was.
While waiting for their lab to check the samples, I pulled everything apart, drained the radiator fluid, checked the thermostat, and checked all the sensors, switches, etc., following the guidelines in the maintenance manual. Found nothing. Put it all back together, albeit with a new thermostat, pressure tested and started riding again. One thing I did find, Ö it looks like part of the radiator was painted on the internal part of the radiator near the sensor mounts, and inlets. Looks like poor manufacturing where they didnít close up the holes before painting. I suspect the black modules were paint particles flaking off.
A couple of weeks later, the engine started flashing the temperature light on cold mornings again. This wasnít right, so I checked and found the Fan switch at the bottom of the Radiator was being slow to flip and turn on the fan. Previous tests, following the instructions in the service manual testing the switch with oil showed it was functioning correctly. It turned out the switch inside the sensor was faulty and would work intermittently. Shutting off the bike during a failure, caused it to reset and turning the ignition back on it would activate it and turn the fan on. In performing the switch test with oil, heating it up slowly, it would work every time opening and closing within range of the correct temperatures. But if you heated the oil up to 240 degrees and then lowered the switch into it, it would not activate, even if you let it sit there for 10 minutes. Removing power, and letting the oil cool down and then re-applying the +12v to the device would activate the switch. These are transistor based switches that use a chemical reaction when heated up to alow the flow of electrons. This, doesnít make any sense, but Iíve seen stranger things. Maybe it had a leak and was now contaminated with coolant.
I surmised the engine was heating up faster than normal at times, maybe the thermostat wasnít opening fast enough, maybe the thermostat bypass wasnít working. Maybe the black nodules had clogged the radiator. I flushed the entire system but it was all clear. Checked hoses, thermostat, radiator, new fluid, everything else checked out and was good.
I replaced the fan switch after a rather long search for one that wasnít so expensive. Suzuki wanted $57 plus shipping($25). Local auto parts stores (equivalent part numbers) $35 + shipping($20). Not one auto parts store locally had one in stock, not Autozone, Oreillyís, Napa, or even PepBoys. Found one on Ebay for $7 in Puerto Rico, an equivalent part number, w/free shipping. Ordered it and after doing so, found the same thing on Wish.com for $3ea, so I ordered two more even though I had to wait two weeks for them to come from China. (The $3 Chinese units turned out to be the exact same unit/manufacturer as what was originally on the C50T from Suzuki.)
Once the switch was swapped out the issue was resolved. Fan now cycled as it should. And I returned to riding the C50T. A week later, Evans, emailed their results and found nothing wrong with the fluid, and they didnít know what the black particles were. To find out would take some more extensive tests that would cost more than it was worth to find out. To them everything checked out ok. I had about 75k miles on the C50T at the time. Their experience with Suzuki C50/M50 models was limited and this was a chance to add some additional information to their files.
A few more weeks passed, and about 1500 miles further down the road, the battery stopped taking a charge. It was four to five years old and never had an issue. A sealed battery, used almost every day should last 4-5 years, so it was about time. I checked everything electrical on the C50T. It could also have been related to the stator, as one of the three leads didnít seem like it wanted to maintain voltage. I changed the battery and the issue went away and the stater appeared to work fine.
The SEP Event
A few months later, in October, I was riding home from work doing about 75mph, heading up the south side of the Camarillo grade, north on the 101, I hadn’t been riding the bike much with the fires all around. The smoke was too much to breath, so I drove the Crown Vic. I had to replace the cabin filter twice, due to the soot in the air. As I reached about halfway up, the engine suddenly lost power. It all but shut off. There was a momentary dead time, like I had flipped the kill switch accidently. I pulled the clutch in, feathered the throttle and started moving to the right to get out of the traffic as I coasted uphill toward the right side emergency parking. This can be a little troubling when you have cages all around you doing 75+ mph and they don’t seem to care about 3 second safety buffers. Sudden slow- downs can get quite hairy as everyone around you appears to be jockeying for position.
As I entered into the far right lane, the engine fired and powered up as though there was no apparent issue. I nursed it with light throttle movements to get to the top of the grade and then coasted 4 miles, down the other side, exited off the freeway and road up the last hill toward home. The engine was running but had a very loud knock in the lower end that it didn’t have before.
I’ve had similar experiences before, once with a small block Chevy(corporate engine) in my ’81 Trans Am coming down a hill and downshifting from 3rd to 2nd , and lost power, It blew a head gasket 2000 miles out of warranty. (GM would have nothing to do with fixing it, because it was past the 50k mile mark). Then a similar issue in a Ford F150 that spun a couple of rod bearings while towing a trailer. Truck had 300k miles on it, so long out of warranty. Both instances resulted in momentary loss of power and then recovered to almost normal operation. The GM engine sealed itself up, Both, ended up requiring total rebuilding.
Needless to say, I tore everything down short of disassembling the engine, checked everything, including all my prior work (valve adjustments, clutch work, cooling system, electrical, cooling system, etc.), and found nothing except a loud knock from the front of the engine. I was now, no longer confident that the bike would get me where I needed to go. There was definitely something wrong with the engine. A compression check yielded very low compression in the front cylinder. It just would not come up. Not even to half the pressure of the rear cylinder which was a little low as well. I surmised I had a broken front piston, and/or a bad set of rings, or a cracked barrel. There was no evidence of a blown head gasket or anything of the sort. Just the noise.
This is why I purchased the Suzuki Extended Protection, so I would be covered in a case such as this.
The First Obsticle – Finding a Shop that Would Work with SEP
I started calling all the shops that I had done business with that sold Suzuki motorcycles, looking for one that could check it out and file a claim against the SEP warranty. The first one I called, was willing to check it out until I mentioned the SEP (Suzuki Extended Protection Warranty). They suddenly didn’t have any time to fit it in. I didn’t like the work this shop did anyway, but they were only a few miles away.
The second shop was near work about 35 miles away and they were an exclusive Suzuki dealer, no other brands. I figured they would be the best place to get it checked out and file a claim quickly. They discouraged me from leaving they bike there, claiming no time, and too many prior vehicles sitting behind their shop waiting for repairs (there were four). But I pressed and the clerk assured me they would make time to at least check it out and file a claim. They had it for a week and then called me to say they just didn’t have time to work on it. They wasted a week of my warranty time. I think the owner just didn’t want to take the time to deal with the warranty company.
The last shop, within 80 miles, was Simi Valley Cycles. They sold/serviced Suzuki motorcycles and when I talked to the Service Manager/Chris, he was very accommodating and said to bring it down and they would give it priority to get a claim in. He asked me to bring all my records as they would need them to make the claim. That morning, I rented a trailer again and picked up the bike from the “Suzuki only dealer” and took it to Simi Valley Cycles. A week later the claim was filed, but the Insurance company would not do anything unless the engine was disassembled for inspection, and they refused to pay for the labor just to see what was wrong. The engine obviously had a serious noise, but they would not budge.
I had to authorize a $700 disassembly charge for Simi Valley Cycles to take it apart. Eight hours of labor. The service manager/Chris confirmed that if they found an issue, the SEP would have to pay for it. If not, I would be on the hook for it. This was my first experience with the SEP Warranty company and their tactics to delay having to pay anything.
SVC took the engine apart and found the front cylinder had seized (not frozen), just gouged the side of the cylinder wall from what looked like some very hard material that had got caught in the oil ring. While disassembling the engine, the mechanic took measurements of everything and found both cylinders were way out of spec. Both sets of barrels, pistons, pins and clearances dictated replacement was the only option, not to mention the other parts that were worn out and bordering on the factory specifications. There were no signs of abuse or neglect. They were just worn out and could not be re-used. As the mechanic put it, I just road it to death.
With the claim having been filed before the policy expiration date, I was relieved. I now knew why nobody wants to deal with the SEP. My first call, I left a voicemail. A week later I called again, reached voicemail again. Redialed and used a different option through the IVR to reach a live person. He was not very helpful, and he reiterated several times “they don’t pay to find a problem”. I guess the knock in the front of the engine that the Mechanic heard wasn’t a problem. I let them know the parts needed to be checked out. He tried to tell me they don’t warranty wear and tear. My response was, “the engine didn’t last through the warranty period, so they were responsible to fix it”. He started to list a bunch of exclusions and I reminded him that I was in California and according to the “California Code” and the contract conditions specific for California, stated there were no exclusions. They were responsible for anything that was beyond the published service specifications. He stopped talking and said he would call me back. He never did. A couple of weeks later and I found out the SEP Insurance company sent an agent out to examine the parts and decided the claim may have some merit. A week later, their position was that the issue had occurred because there was a problem with dirt in the intake, valves, air cleaner, and throttle bodies. This didn’t make sense as the dirt would have had to pass by two rings and the oil ring to get to where the hard particles were. To prove their point, they wanted the heads and valve assemblies to be disassembled so they could check the seals and air pathways. And again, they were not going to pay for the labor to disassemble the parts. (More delay tactics). SVC agreed I should not have to pay for this and discussed it with the insurance agent, but I authorized the labor cost and would be on the hook for another couple of hours if nothing was found. However, the claim had already be filed and their agent rep did agree there was a problem. I think SEP was just looking for an out at this point.
Another couple of weeks went by and I called Chris at SVC for status and was told they were waiting for the agent representative to return to inspect the disassembled heads and valve assemblies. Chris, stated everything was clean. So I called SEP to find out why their rep hadn’t returned. The gentleman stated they were waiting on SVC to call them. Getting two different stories, now so I offered to conference in Chris from SVC, but the insurance rep stated that would not be necessary and that he would make sure their agent rep would go out within the next two weeks. (more delays).
Two weeks later and the no calls between SEP and the SVC. Another call to SEP, this time they could not find my claim number, my warranty card number or my file and said there was nothing that could be done. (another delay?, or did they just expect me to go away?). The same gentleman I spoke with the last time stated “without the claim number or warranty card number” they could not look up the file and stood fast on that statement. I hung up and Called Chris at SVC and had them email everything he had to me and two calls later to SEP, and they had found the paper work and the agent would be sent out.
Two weeks later again, and a call to Chris at SVC, no word from the SEP. I called SEP and reached their agent, and he stated the case was closed and again seemed like he just wanted me to go away. I pressed and argued that I was never notified of the case being closed. He blamed that on Chris at SVC, and re-iterated that the case was closed. I had to press him for answers on what was done or going to happen now. We were disconnected. Another call later and he found my claim file with notes from their agent rep. They were authorizing a little more than $3000 to cover parts and labor to fix the engine with a list of the new parts to be used.
SVC stated they did not include all parts that were needed. Some were just barely within the maintenance specifications and needed to be replaced. However, SEP had finalized their side of the case and closed it. I didn’t think it was right, but they were sticking to the letter of the contract by not replacing the parts that were still within spec (even though they needed to be replaced). They had to cover all the labor for disassembly, but as it turns out, the SEP warranty company has an agreement with all Suzuki Dealerships that covers Labor at a much reduced rate.
This left SVC with about 10 hours of labor so far, and at least another 10 for assembly. According to the contract, there were “no out of pocket expenses for the owner”. I wanted to stick to this, but SVC was getting the short end of the stick from the SEP. SEP’s position was the engine could be put back together with the parts authorized. SVC thought it wasn’t wise to reuse some of the old parts, like cam chain tensioners, gears, etc, that were just barely within spec and I agreed, but was looking at another $2000 minimum, in parts. This didn’t sit well with me, but I understood the position all parties were in. I wanted the bike to be reliable and now understood why dealing with the SEP Warranty was so difficult. They stick to the letter of the law (contract) so to speak.
To be honest, I think SEP wanted me to take the cash and walk away. The bike was now in pieces, the engine completely disassembled and out of the frame. What I wanted was to have it back running AND in reliable condition. I didn’t feel comfortable in this situation. SVC stated I could if I wanted, take the $3000 and the parts and go home. It was my choice.
I didn’t like that choice. Too many problems. No bike to ride, wife would be pissed to have the parts all over the place. I’m sure SVC would be disappointed getting stuck with the labor. I needed an honorable, solution and it wasn’t going to come from SEP. Chris at SVC said I could think about it and let him know. I was worried about storage fees, but Chris said there would be none. So I went home looking for options and a plan going forward.
I could take the SEP to arbitration as the contract stated, but that may cost a lot in time, money and travel that I did not have. An attorney/judge/friend said to take the money and go buy another bike. He said that arbitration might yield a higher settlement for more parts but the incidental costs of transportation and time would likely offset any increase in the claim. In his opinion, the best option was to take the money. I respected his integrity and decided that I would consider his recommendation.
I went home that evening and decided to search eBay for a used engine. If I took the money, replacing the engine would be the quick fix. I have seen some engines listed before for less than a $1000 and figured I could do the work to put it in the frame. I found a 2016 engine on eBay with less than 10k miles that had all the parts SVC wanted to replace. It was about $1000 and it was local to SoCal in Anaheim. This would work, but I was now riding a new bike and didn’t have a lot of free time to fix an old one.
I came up with a plan that included having SVC use some of the $3000 allocated, to purchase the used engine, and the rest to be used for miscellaneous parts and labor to put it back in the frame, making a running bike out of it. Chris at SVC liked the idea, ran it by his management and got the approval as long as I accepted the responsibility of dealing with the 30day warranty provided by the seller of the new engine, should any problems arise. I agreed and SVC started the process. I liked sticking to the “no out of pocket expenses”. The worst case scenario I could see in this, would be ending up with two sets of engine parts if there was a problem with the eBay engine. A risk I was willing to take. SVC purchased the engine, and their mechanic checked it out and was able to use it.
I picked it up last night and road it home. To be honest, it sounded much different than the C50T did when it was new. This new engine assembly, sounded more like a small V-twin should sound with the stock mufflers. Whereas, my original engine, had a slight knocking sound from day 1 when I first purchased it. The mechanic at the original dealer stated they all sounded like that. I have my doubts now. It is quite possible that I have been riding a defective engine for the last 85,000 miles.s
The SVC mechanic stated, he wanted to see it back at 600 miles, just like a new bike. He found no wear-and-tear from it’s original 10,000 miles. I would have to agree as my ride home felt like the bike was brand new.
In any case, the C50T is back home now sitting next to my newer 2014 Honda CTX1300, while I process the C50T’s future. Sell it or keep it? It now rides like a new C50T. My daughter wants to ride it to work and school. My oldest son wants to ride it, but he is a Marine now and they frown on motorcycles. My youngest wants it but he has a year to go before he can legally ride it on the street and his mother isn’t likely to give him permission. We’ll see, I’m in no hurry to decide.
Now I just need to figure out where to put the parts of the older engine and what to do with them. Might turn into an artist and weld them all together into a fixture to set out on someone’s lawn. LOL! Or, I could keep them and sell them with the bike. Or just sell them, extra heads, extra case, transmission, and other parts, all in excellent condition per the mechanic. I’ll decide later.
So one journey is winding down on the C50T and another begins with the CTX1300.
Love my CTX1300. Good riding with yours!
The CTX1300 is the best bike I have ever owned or ridden. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I love mine.
Bummer about the C50 front cylinder wearing out. Same thing happened to mine and to too many other owners. At least you're whole again.
What an episode they put you through........and you handled it like a pro.
Nerves of steel, and major intestinal fortitude on Your part, no doubt.
Gotta be one of the best reads on this forum!
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