Some of you might remember my tales of woe with our 2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara from Kinja-land. A quick synopsis:
We bought the truck (cheap) knowing that it needed to have the timing chains/gears/tensioners replaced.
After wrenching for a few days we found that the job would be way more work than we expected. (Far more complex than the SBC stuff I've worked on before.)
Life got in the way and the project got delayed several months.
I learned what drive screws are and how to use them. (They're pretty cool! Basically a hammer-in rivet that you'd have to drill out to remove.)
After lots of work we got the thing reassembled, insured, tagged, and on the road. We've driven it around (maybe 150 miles) and have been pretty happy with it.
Until the oil pan started leaking. Profusely. Understand that the 2.5L V6 Suzuki used in these has a two-part oil pan. An upper galley pan and a lower sump. The upper galley uses sealant rather than a gasket. The lower sump pan uses a gasket. The areas that use sealant are notorious for leaking because of the complex assembly process. I put the galley pan on before dropping the engine in, knowing it would be easier on the stand. I thought I did a good job of it. It was in the 60s F when I did that part of the job, and the Permatex Ultra Grey RTV I used (the recommended product in Suzuki circles) had a good four weeks to cure before I ever put oil in it.
This past weekend we pulled the pans again. That requires taking out the front axle and the power steering rack to be able to get the pans out. A pain, yes, but not nearly as bad as the first time since 1) I'd done it before and 2) stuff was clean this time. Once I had the galley pan off I found that the RTV had never fully cured. A good portion of it was as wet as the day it was installed. Okay, something's not right.
More investigation told me RTV has a shelf life. (News to me!) Some people say as short as a year. I checked the production code of the product I'd used, and it was about 11 months old when I applied it. Well crap.
I had a suggestion from a Suzuki forum member to try Permatex's anaerobic gasket maker product. Dries faster and sounds better suited to my situation. But it still bugged me that the RTV hadn't worked. From what I saw when I pulled it apart, I hadn't done anything wrong and it should have sealed.
I got on Permatex's website and submitted a product question/complaint yesterday. Not so much to complain, but to find out if I'd done something wrong or just used the wrong stuff. To my surprise, they responded to my submission after less than 12 hours. The response actually addressed my question specifically (not a canned response that missed the mark like I expected because I'm jaded). And get this - with no more proof than my word on the subject, they offered to send me not only a replacement tube of the original product but also a tube of the anaerobic - free of charge!
It's better customer service than I expect these days from big companies, and it really brightened my day. Now to wait for the arrival of the new stuff.
Moral of the story: Have a problem with a product? Contact the company about it. Don't be a jerk, just explain the issue and request suggestions. They might just surprise you. (Also - Permatex confirmed their RTV does have a shelf life, but it's two years. Mine was not too old, but they're still making it right.)