When is a new car warranty not a warranty?

Hi Choice community experts,
A few days ago I took my 2023 Hyundai i30 to Phil Gilbert Hyundai to find out why my anti-theft alarm had gone off randomly 3 times in the last 6 months, while I was still inside my car in a car park, on the point of getting out. I have consulted the manual, tried to trigger the alarm with the key fob and so did the mechanics at the dealership, with no success. Also, they said the Computer log did not have any record off the alarm going off , so they could not fix the problem. This is disappointing on its own. (And I will be reporting this issue to head office Hyundai, as there has to be something causing this issue. A sensor inside the car?). Note that the alarm hasn’t gone off since.

But my reason for this post is to ask advice about the $200 the dealership charged me for not finding anything wrong. I was asked to sign a disclaimer before the diagnosis was done, that I would pay the fee even if no problem was found. I signed it as I assumed the problem would be found and fixed, and therefore covered by warranty as I bought the car in March this year. So I am not happy about the $200 fee, as I expected that “under warranty” meant no charges.

I’ve scanned the list of exclusions in the Department of Fair trading website section on cars (ACL) and can see no reference to warranties being void if no fault is found in a car.

Before I proceed any further with this issue, I would appreciate some advice on whether the dealership is allowed to charge an additional fee like this, when a car is under warranty? Does the dealership have different arrangements regarding the warranty from Hyundai itself?

Has anyone else had this situation arise?
Kind regards Natalie

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Hi @Natalie71, how does the alarm operate?

Knowing how the alarm operates might allow community members to determine if there is a problem with the alarm or if there is something else which may have resulted in the alarm activating unexpectedly.

In relation to the $200 that Hyundai charged. If there isn’t a fault with the alarm and it is something other than the alarm which caused its activation, then they could reasonably charge for the inspection and assessment which you asked them to so. The charge is reasonable, as you asked them to check/carry out an assessment for something which was not found to be at fault.

This is common practice by some businesses (a good example is asking for a consumer to pay for freightage to return to a service agent for assessment - whereby the freightage is reimbursed if the product as a fault under the warranty/consumer guarantee) and allowed for under the Australian Consumer Law.

Hi phb,
Thanks for the quick reply :slightly_smiling_face: I don’t understand how an anti-theft alarm works, other than it’s only supposed to go off if someone tries to open the locked car from the outside without using the keyfob. I have spent much time googling and can find no solution to this issue for my model/year of car (Hyundai i30 2023). Perhaps it is a new glitch. I was sitting inside with the key in my hand (I think). I thought I had touched some sensor and triggered it. But the mechanics at the dealership carrying out the Diagnostic Inspection couldn’t trigger it either and could find no "DTC’s) - some sort of log code for alarms going off.I was advised to monitor it. Could there be something wrong with the electronics/CPU that its not recording this information? PS On each of the 3 occasions the alarm went off, I was parked inside a carpark . Could that be the source of the trigger?

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It could automatically start after a set period after ignition is turned off irrespective of whether the car is locked or not. Only knowing how it functions will allow determination of whether it has a fault or whether ones own actions set it off.

It could do. At our parents units, slamming a car door or external doorway is enough to set off a nearby car alarm. If it is at the same place doing something similar each time, it could be something unique to that location causing it to go off.

Is it the alarm or the car telling you it has been left unlocked/door ajar?

The other thought is did you open the car with the key and not the fob. A key entry may not disable the alarm. Hence you may have set it off inadvertently.

The CPU log may not record false alarms where the alarm is turned off shortly after activating. It makes sense for this to occur.

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FWIW our Renault 2013 Koleos exhibited a phantom problem with the front parking sensors, recurring often over a few months. The well cleaned front sensors would ‘go off’ driving slowly in traffic (~20-40kph) even when there was nothing near our car. They are not supposed to go off above about 12kph in any event and have a range of about 1m.

It was irregular and the partner wanted to take it to the dealer. I hesitated because there was no fault recorded in the computer (I have a reader) and it was irregular. I knew if it could not be replicated they could not fix it. She turned the parking sensors off for a few weeks and when she turned them back on it did not happen again.

The joys of newer vehicles with their wonders of electronics and computers :expressionless:

Radio frequency ‘noise’ in a car park can cause a vehicle computer to do interesting things. In our case the automatic door locking will sometimes fail normal operation in certain car parks but nowhere else.

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That’s something to consider I had been sitting for while, looking at my phone when it happened that last time. I will contact Hyundai and ask them to explain how the alarm works.

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Perhaps that is the trigger. So I won’t worry about it unless it happens outdoors!
The other option is turning off the anti-theft alarm. But I have looked under settings on the car’s screen and there is no way to do it. Turning the car’s computer "on and off " again might do the trick but how can I do it? I presume the car is always “on” in the background otherwise the car wouldn’t’ work. Ah! cars and their electronics indeed.

All of these are possible causes. Although I did not turn the alarm off myself (I didn’t know how to at that time) it just stopped after 20 secs. Also, I have only ever used the fob to lock/unlock the car.

Thank you so much phb, All of your speculations above have given me food for thought. I’ll try to confirm these with Hyundai.

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Some cars reboot their computers when they start, but only if they were turned off and the driver exited the car and walked away for a minimum time - most common with smart keys/keyless systems. Some require the battery to be disconnected for (ex) ~20 minutes and then reconnected. Some will save some settings and some will not. Many have a factory reset aka a device but those factory resets only do some subsystems, such as the entertainment, bluetooth, GPS, and comfort, not necessarily all base engine/drive functions.

That is one for Hyundai or a knowledgeable mechanic to explain to you.

It is unlawful in many jurisdictions for any alarm, car (or premises), to continue sounding beyond a prescribed maximum time. I believe 45 seconds is the limit for newer cars with certain exceptions for damage to the vehicle.

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Thanks for that info PhilT. I will ask Hyundai if they can make a suggestion or fix it. Perhaps it will not happen again if I don’t tarry in my car with the door open.

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Actually it is 30 seconds then resets.

The owners manual describes how the anti-theft alarm system works in reasonable detail.

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Thanks Gregr! I didnt focus on what was in the manual…

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