There’s nothing worse than major car troubles, especially when you’re on a Big Lap of Australia and miles away from any major city. That’s exactly what happened to us, and if you’ve been following along you’ll know the story.
What’s important to know now though, is that our 2016 Isuzu Dmax, with 111,000km on the clock has had the inner guards replaced in Brisbane, and our big Lap of Australia is back on.
This is not a sponsored post
If you’ve been following us for some time, you’ll know we aren’t sponsored by anyone, and share these posts for the benefits of our readers, and that is it. We don’t get anything from Isuzu from sharing this, and they don’t know this is being posted. We’re in the business of giving credit where its due, and calling it out when its not, and this post is no different to any other that we’ve done in that regard.
What work was actually done?
Our Isuzu Dmax had one minor crack on the radiator support battery clamp attachment, a small one on the drivers side at the bottom of the inner guard and then a massive one under the battery (about 150mm long), which we only noticed when the air conditioner stopped working as it fractured one of the pipes when the guard dropped.
Regardless of where the cracks are in any of these 3 panels, the standard repair methodology is to unstitch the inner guards and radiator support panel, and to install new panels. As you might imagine, this is a massive job, and most quotes are between 2 and 4 weeks for the repair only.
We’ve got a Safari Snorkel, Provent 200 Catch Can, Secondary fuel filter, transmission cooler, winch and a pretty decked out 4WD, and I’m sure a good chunk of these things would have had to be removed and re-fitted.
It’s also common to have the body mounts replaced, and even though ours had been done at 60,000km due to cracking and sagging, they were just about due anyway. Interestingly, they only replaced the two front most body mounts, and left the others.
Of course, our aircon also needed repairing, as it had lost all the gas, which Isuzu sorted out after the repairs were done (new high pressure aircon pipe, and re-gassing).
Are the new panels different?
Yes, they have a different part number, and have bracing in the section that often cracks. I was told that the old panels were pressed from the wrong steel, which is entirely possible, and the new ones should be out of a more malleable steel, but who really knows. They certainly look better!
Who did the repairs?
The work was done by Drive Accident Solutions, and organised by Brisbane Eagle Farm Isuzu. I was recommended Eagle Farm in Isuzu as being one of the quieter dealers, who’d be able to get the whole work done quickly by Isuzu Ute Australia (head office).
The warranty process, from start to finish
Prior to our major guard failure, I had approval for the repairs down in Essendon in Victoria, but by the time they came through we were way further north, and I was trying to get a dealer in Queensland to take the claim on, but they all wanted to see the vehicle in person before doing anything, which meant we’d have to pull up and wait.
That said, the aircon broke when we were heading out to Stanage Bay, and I noticed the major crack just as we arrived.
I rang Isuzu Ute Australia on Tuesday 22/8 to advise them of the failure, and they recommended I speak to Eagle Farm Isuzu, which I did, and got a booking in for inspection on 25/8, which suited perfectly as we had to drive about 800km down to Brisbane.
On the 25/8, I took the car to Eagle Farm Isuzu, who had a look at it, and took it to the smash repairers for them to take a look. An hour and a half later I had the vehicle back, and drove back to family in the Sunshine Coast.
From there, I made a few calls every couple of days to Eagle Farm Isuzu, or IUA, or the smash repairers. It took them just over a week to get the quote formalised, and the claim was lodged with Isuzu Ute Australia that day (5/9).
I spoke to IUA again a couple of times, and the approval came through on 12/9, with a booking at the smash repairs for 19/9, and an estimated timeframe of 2 weeks. IUA organised a hire car through Right 2 Drive, and I dropped the Dmax off at Eagle Farm, and drove out in a fairly new Toyota Hilux.
How long did it all take?
From the first inspection on 25/8, to me collecting the Isuzu Dmax on 11/10, it was just under 7 weeks, which in my opinion is pretty good. That includes the quoting, submitting of the claim, approval of the claim, waiting period for the smash repairs and the repairs themselves.
My initial guess was 8 – 12 weeks, which was absolutely destroyed. It could have taken a lot longer to get approved, and for the panel shop to be ready to start the work, so we got very lucky in that regard.
Was a hire car provided?
Yep, the Isuzu dealer weren’t able to assist with this, but Isuzu Ute Australia organised one with minimal fuss, and we needed one to get around with the family. They even went to a bit of work to get something similar to what we had, which was appreciated, and this was a fairly major expense for them, at roughly $200 a day (so more than $3500 for the whole lot, paid for by Isuzu).
Was anything done poorly?
I always hate vehicles being pulled apart, because I know that they often don’t go back together as well as they once were. We’ve proven our Dmax, and when you’re pulling a substantial amount of gear off a 4WD, and then reinstalling it there’s a decent chunk of room for error.
Our Bull Bar was a pain in the bum to line up when we installed it, and there’s a dozen other things you could easily do wrong when reassembling, and I was quietly confident it wouldn’t go perfectly.
My first impressions when I had a look over the vehicle though, were that the job was done really well. I could see a couple of places where I wanted cable ties, and a bit of rubber was missing between the secondary fuel filter and battery, but overall it was done really well.
There’s a small paint run down the chassis where they’ve painted the inner guards underneath, and two small paint splodges (like 3 and 4mm wide) on the outside of the inner guard, but I’m not that fussy.
I did have a weird knocking noise on bumps and turning corners which I stopped to investigate, only to realise the winch wasn’t wound in all the way and the steel block was banging on the bull bar fairlead!
How do we feel, overall?
Life throws lemons from time to time, and when I discovered the major crack up near Stanage Bay, I was expecting a tow truck out (I initially thought it was coolant everywhere), and that we’d be stuck in a caravan park for up to 3 months, which was the last thing we wanted to happen.
I was annoyed that it had happened, but had known it was a possibility given other failures I’d seen over the years, and I know nothing in life is perfect. Things are built incorrectly, or there’s design flaws, or mistakes made, and that’s just life. In my mind the way these things are dealt with is far more important.
We decided to head for the Sunshine Coast to be close to Brisbane (a major hub for repairs, and also head office of Isuzu) and where we have amazing family who put us up in their house, and looked after us extremely well.
I was expecting the warranty process to drag out, and for the smash repairers to be busy and have at least a 3 – 4 week lead time before they could start, but it all flowed through exceptionally well.
Previous experiences with warranty through Isuzu Ute Australia had been really good, and I was thinking we could be in for a bit of a battle with getting it through, and a hire car sorted, but in all honesty they couldn’t have been better.
Overall, I’m super impressed with Isuzu Ute Australia, and Brisbane Eagle Farm Isuzu (and also Drive Accident Solutions). I mentioned above that the way in which a problem is dealt with speaks volumes about a business, and things could have gone a lot worse for us in this regard, if Isuzu hadn’t been so helpful and good about it.
I knew (but kept my fingers crossed) that this model Dmax had inner guard cracking issues when I got ours, and asides from this its been a pretty reliable vehicle.
I’m positive if we’d been stuck in a remote town, expensive caravan park and had nothing to do my thoughts would be vastly different, but from Isuzu’s perspective, there wasn’t much that could have been done better.
We’re back on the road
It’s been a forced stop for us, and asides from a major change in plans I can’t complain at all. We’ve been staying in a beautiful house in an incredible area, with so many amazing places nearby. I’ve been working 3 days a week at a local workshop, the kids have had more toys to play with than ever before and it was a very different change to our usual travels.
For now, we’ll continue heading south, and we fly back to Perth from Sydney in December, and then continue our travels around this amazing country (and hope not to have any more major vehicle troubles!).