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.