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My Experience of the ARB/Old Man Emu Warranty Process

Saturday October 6, 2018

Yesterday, I noticed that the struts on my Old Man Emu lift kit that were purchased just last November are now leaking.  The driver side is much worse than the right, but both are now leaking.  Old Man Emu has a good reputation in the forums, so right now this is just an annoyance, but I'm confident they'll stand by their products.

I've asked a few online who have had issues about their warranty experience.  Without exception,  all said it was a painless procedure.  Just a couple emails with pictures was usually enough to resolve the issue.  I'm adding this to the website to detail my experience with their warranty process as it happens.  To prevent this online experience from altering their decision making process,  I won't be sharing this play-by-play information with them unless needed. 

Sunday October 7, 2018

I purchased the parts from Rocky Road Outfitters.  The owner and I have exchanged emails over the years and he seems like a genuinely nice guy.  Always quick with email  replies.  When possible, I prefer to make purchases from small businesses and encourage everyone to do the same.  Everyone I've recommended to them has been happy with their Jeep and Suzuki parts and service.  I contacted the owner directly and was given the contact information for the ARB/Old Man Emu warranty claims department.  Since I'm not completely organized after the home move,  he offered to send over Proof of Purchase information.

My first email was sent to ARB/Old Man Emu today detailing the problem and included pictures.  Now we wait.

Tuesday October 9, 2018

Received my first email from T** with the ARB/Old Man Emu warranty department asking for mileage on the parts.  I explained to T** in my reply email that I do all the work on my vehicle and didn't have accurate mileage, but offered a rounded up estimate.  Since  I live maybe 5 miles from my office,  I'm well within their  36 month / 37,000 mile warranty period.

Thursday October 11, 2018

No response from ARB/Old Man Emu to my mileage email yet.  I think they might be waiting for Proof of Purchase information, so I sent an email to Rocky Road Outfitters asking for that.  

Friday October 12, 2018
Received a reply from Rocky Road Outfitters with that Proof of Purchase information and email forwarded that information to ARB/Old Man Emu.

Friday October 12, 2018​
3:43 PM:  
Received another email from T** at ARB/Old Man Emu asking for side view pictures of the Jeep.  

This is my first feeling that something might be going wrong in this warranty process. ​

Friday October 12, 2018​
3:59 PM:  Replied by email with two pictures of Jeep side views.

Friday October 12, 2018​
4:30 PM:  ​Yeah, something is going wrong.  Just received another email from T**.  This time asking for a phone number.  I want to make contact before the weekend and will call shortly.

Friday October 12, 2018
Phone call. 4:45 PM: 

Since T** requested my phone number in the previous email,  I already had a feeling there was an issue.  T** seemed like a nice enough guy, but wanted to explain what he felt caused the leaking struts.  I use the Heavy Duty Old Man Emu lift kit.  T** explained that without aftermarket bumpers and a winch,  the heavier spring rate caused too much extended pressure on the struts causing them to leak.  

I explained to him that I am still using stock length sway links which do not allow full extension of the strut.  When I first installed the lift, I knew there would still be limitations in extension of an Independent Front Suspension system.  I asked T** how much extension was built into the strut, but he didn't have that data readily available.  He had the data about the inch pounds of force of the springs, but not their maximum extension.

Out of the box and on the bench, the struts appeared to have much more extension built into them, so I don't believe they have ever come close to full extension.  I offered to send a video or pictures showing that the sway links do not allow full extension of the struts,  but T** said there are internal parts that would be stressed before they would be stopped by full extension.  He compared my issue to their Toyota Tacoma  shocks and struts "blowing regularly" because people are using heavy duty springs on a lighter truck.  According to T** the ARB/Old Man Emu tech support/warranty guy,  this is a known and common issue, so you Toyota Tacoma owners may want to look closely and inspect your shocks and struts.  If  they are "blowing regularly",  maybe they should recall their Toyota Tacoma lifts.

I chose Old Man Emu based on their reputation and suggestions of many Jeep owners using their parts.  I mentioned to T** that I chose the Heavy Lift over the Medium Duty because the same lift kit is used between the Jeep Grand Cherokee WK and the Jeep Commander XK and the Commander weighs about 500 pounds more than the Grand Cherokee.

T** said it's not the same thing.  I wasn't sure if he was saying the kits aren't the same or that my premise was wrong.  To that, I said  "Ok, I guess." and T** asked, "Does that mean you want to be done with it?".  T** was asking if I wanted to give up my warranty claim.  I told him I wanted to resolve this issue.  

T** said if they did anything, they didn't want to offer a Bandaid solution and suggested that I buy new Medium Duty springs from them for an additional $200.  The conversation ended with T** saying he'd need to talk with his manager on Monday before any final decision is made and that ended the phone conversation.

Friday October 12, 2018
He didn't outright deny my warranty claim, but I think we're far from a resolution.  At best, it's looking like they might replace the leaking struts, but I would have to buy Medium Duty springs from them.  Worst case scenario is I'm out almost $400 in high end Heavy Duty struts that didn't even last a year.  

I researched the parts to verify the same lift kit is used between the WK and XK models.  It is.  Then, I researched factory weights of the WK and XK models.  A 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee weight rests between 4254 and 4788 pounds.  A Jeep Commander of the same year weighs between 4649 and 5239 pounds.  At its lightest to heaviest, the Commander weighs between 395 and 451 pounds more.  Let's be generous and say that aftermarket bumpers and a winch will add 400 pounds.  A Grand Cherokee WK with the additional weight of aftermarket bumpers and a winch will almost identically match a Jeep Commander XK's weight without them which is why the HD kit is recommended by many owners of lifted Commanders.  

If a Jeep Commander XK without aftermarket bumpers and a winch is nearly identical in weight to a Jeep Grand Cherokee WK with aftermarket bumpers and a winch, there should be no significant difference in spring rate between the two.  If such were the case, Jeep Grand Cherokee WK's with aftermarket bumpers and winches would be blowing struts on the Old Man Emu HD lift kits with regularity.  If it's a known issue that this HD lift kit can't handle the stress of a vehicle nearly identical in weight,  maybe they should recall all of the Jeep Grand Cherokee WK HD lift kits too.

Well,  this took a turn for the worse.  I was very positive when I started this warranty review and thought, for sure, they would stand by their products and the process would be quick and painless, but now I'm sensing resistance on their part.  It's still possible I read the situation wrong and good news may come from this.  For now,  it's looking like we're waiting until the other side of the weekend.  I'll offer updates as they come.  

Sunday October 14, 2017

Today I took the wheels off again and measured.  T**'s hypothesis is that the heavy duty springs are causing the struts to over-extend and act as the extension limiter of the suspension.  Again, I told him that I am still running stock length sway bar links that do not allow full or further extension as demonstrated in the images below.  

In the first image below you can see the fixed point marked on the tie rod mount measures just under 17 1/2" with the sway bar link connected. In the second image you can see the same fixed point measures 18 3/4" with the sway bar disconnected.  

Sway bar connected                        Sway bar disconnected

With the sway bar disconnected, the suspension extension limiter is the inside of the spindle resting on the lower coil spring isolator.   Since I never drive with the sway bar links disconnected, and the limitation is at the spindle and spring isolator, the struts never get to that point of full extension.

 Sway bar connected                 Sway bar disconnected

Friday October 19, 2018

T** told me he would discuss this issue with his manager on Monday.  This afternoon will be a week since our phone conversation.  As of this morning, still no contact.  It's not looking positive that ARB/Old Man Emu will honor their warranty.

Sent a new email to the ARB/Old Man Emu sales department detailing the issues and the process to this point.  In that email, I detailed the situation which included a link to this page and a request for a response by management only.  I shared that email with a few others and predicted that, if they chose to honor their warranty, they would say that T** was sick or injured.  Awaiting a response now.

Friday October 19, 2018

Within the hour (1:11 PM) , I received an email from ARB/Old Man Emu management with an apology and explanation for the delay. The explanation for the delay was that T** was sick.  Hope you feel better soon, T**.  They agreed to honor the warranty for the parts.  From here, another technician will guide me through the rest of the warranty process.  

Received an email from another technician, R***, asking for my shipping and contact information.  No mention was made of T**'s  statement by management or R*** that their struts are "blowing regularly".  Can't say that I'm happy, but at this point, I'm pleased there is positive progress.  

Tuesday October 23, 2018 

Received a UPS tracking number from R***.  Delivery is expected this coming Thursday.

Thursday October 25, 2018

The package was received this evening.  Packaged well and all looks good.  It's too late to get started on this project tonight, so I may take tomorrow off and complete it then.

Friday October 26, 2018

Old struts are out and new ones are in.  I think  we're good again.

Saturday October 27, 2018

Final thoughts:

I wanted to make sure parts were replaced and working well before I offered my final opinion.  When I originally began posting about this warranty process, I thought it would be over in a week.  I also was not going to tell ARB/Old Man Emu about this website or that I was posting about the process as it happened, but decided to include a link to this page as part of the escalation process.  I wanted to present an honest review about an honest and typical customer interaction.  Since the process had to be escalated and they knew of this public display, we'll never know if this was an accurate presentation of the process.  

I'm happy that this has finally reached a positive resolution, but if they didn't know this warranty process was being shared publicly, would we have the same outcome or would I still be waiting for an email?  If my claim wasn't already denied,  I have a feeling I'd still be waiting.  This warranty process took 19 days to complete.  This entire process should have taken days.  Not weeks.   I'm sure all parties involved can agree this wasn't their best example of customer service.

Before I had a conversation with T**,  he already had a reason in mind to resist my warranty claim.  When I offered proof in support of my claim, he didn't want it.  The follow-up technician, R***, was polite and apologetic.  His emails weren't very involved.  They were short and to the point which is how a warranty process should be.  I'm not even upset that I got a bad set.  It happens with all products occasionally.  When a customer is researching products before the purchase,  one of the most important decision factors is the warranty.  You're either going to stand by your products or you're not and there needs to be consistency in that decision process. 

I'm certain ARB/Old Man Emu makes excellent products.  I still have confidence in their products and will continue to recommend them to others.  However, I have lost confidence in their customer service.  If someone from ARB/Old Man Emu wants to contact me (by email only) and say T** was mistaken that the struts used in their Jeep Grand Cherokee WK,  Jeep Commander XK, and Toyota Tacoma HD kits are "blowing regularly",  I'd be happy to update this experience report.