New Brunswick

Fredericton man fuming over truck fire, blames dealership

A Fredericton man is upset with a local car dealership after his pickup truck caught fire in January. Nathan Vanhecke says he had asked his dealer to check out a burning smell in the vehicle earlier on the day it caught fire, but, he says, they did nothing to fix it.

Nathan Vanhecke says dealer's service department misdiagnosed the problem

Jan. 18 photo of Nathan Vanhecke's 2014 GMC Sierra on fire. (Nathan Vanhecke)

A Fredericton man is upset with a local car dealership after his pickup truck caught fire.

Nathan Vanhecke, owner of a 2014 GMC Sierra, said he is lucky to have escaped the fire unhurt.

Vanhecke said he asked the service department at the dealership to check out a burning smell in the vehicle earlier on the day it caught fire, but they did nothing to fix it.

I looked down and there were flames coming out from underneath my dash.- Nathan Vanhecke

He said the flames took hold within minutes of him realizing something was very wrong.

"I smelled that burning smell and I thought 'here we go again' and I was waiting for it to go away, like it did the last couple of times and it didn't. And I looked down and there were flames coming out from underneath my dash," he said.

Earlier that day, Jan. 18, Vanhecke had taken the truck to the dealership where he bought it in 2014, concerned with a burning electrical smell he said first noticed a week earlier.

"Their service tech at O'Leary's even said 'hey, that's not right.' He looked genuinely concerned and I thought they were going to help me when I got there," said Vanhecke.

He says O'Leary Buick GMC Ltd. told him they could only recommend a new air filter, at which point Vanhecke said he protested, saying that was not the problem.

"I explained to him that I was going to have to call General Motors Canada and [the service manager] goes 'ooh! General Motors Canada,' and actually mocks me," he said. 

Hours after that encounter, Vanhecke says his truck was a smoldering shell. He said his insurance adjuster told him the problem came from the wiring harness near the centre of the vehicle.

Aubrey Ward, general manager at O'Leary Buick GMC, said he's sorry about what happened to the truck and he's sorry if Vanhecke felt he was treated poorly. But the dealership did everything it was supposed to do when Vanhecke reported the problem, Ward said.

He wouldn't comment on whether an electrical fault would have been covered by warranty.

Vanhecke's insurance covered the cost of his outstanding payments for the torched truck, but a poor credit rating means, for now, he says he can only afford to replace the truck with a $500 used car.
 

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