What some dealers don’t want you to know about your auto warranty
Auto dealers cannot void your warranty due to routine maintenance. That’s against the law.
“It’s illegal for a dealer to deny your warranty coverage simply because you had routine maintenance or repairs performed by someone else,” wrote the Federal Trade Commission in this blog about auto warranties. “Routine maintenance often includes oil changes, tire rotations, belt replacement, fluid checks and flushes, new brake pads and inspections. Maintenance schedules vary by vehicle make, model and year; the best source of information about routine scheduled maintenance is your owner’s manual.”
I’m sharing this because friends, family and followers alike have told me they’re afraid to do their own oil changes or to have their favorite neighborhood mechanics tinker with their vehicles. They tell me someone — usually their auto dealer or a dealer’s service manager — has told them if they do that, the dealer will void their manufacturer’s warranties or their extended warranties.
According to the commission, your right to use whomever you want, including yourself, to do routine maintenance on your vehicle is protected under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the law consumer advocates commonly refer to as the federal “lemon law.” Under that law, dealers cannot void your warranty or deny coverage due to routine maintenance performed by the vehicle’s owner or by another mechanic or service. The law does, however, allow dealers to dictate who performs the repairs covered under the manufacturer’s or extended warranty.
Here’s what I suggest: shop and deal only with auto dealers who won’t play games with your manufacturer’s warranty or extended warranty. “As a dealer well-versed in the law, Principle Toyota respects every consumer’s right to service his or her vehicle any way they choose,” said Todd Lochner, partner and general manager of #WiseChoice Principle Toyota. “To help them make that choice, we offer a no-cost maintenance plan. It gives each NEW car-buyer free oil changes, tire rotations, multi-point inspections and roadside assistance for the first two years or 25,000 miles. That offer stands even if they choose to do their own maintenance during that time.”
You should also know that you have the right to choose between original equipment manufacturer parts (OEM) or after-market parts in repairs covered under warranty or under your insurance policy, as long as you make sure your policy doesn’t require after-market parts. Read my investigation while I was a consumer investigator with WMC Action News 5 on this issue to protect your right to the safest and best quality replacement parts.
“Unless your insurance policy specifies the use of after-market parts, you have the right to demand the manufacturer’s original equipment parts in a collision repair,” said Ryan Diffee, owner of #WiseChoice Benchmark Autobody, North Mississippi’s premier family-owned auto body and collision repair center. “At Benchmark Autobody, we can advocate for you when your insurance company tries to railroad you into using certain parts, especially when both your policy and the law allow you to choose.”
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