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Maintenance February 28, 2018

Do Car Owners Have to Use the Dealer? What You Need to Know About Auto Warranties, Maintenance, and Repairs

Auto warranties

When it comes to your vehicle, the last thing you want to do is void your warranty. Many vehicle owners are under the impression, however, that all repairs, maintenance needs, and replacement parts must go through the manufacturer. Here’s the truth:


Can a dealer deny new warranty coverage if the owner took the vehicle to a non-dealer shop for routine maintenance and repairs?


No! Vehicle owners have several options to stay on top of routine vehicle maintenance and repairs – use the dealer, another automotive maintenance provider, or do it themselves. For those who use someone other than the dealer, the dealer cannot deny factory warranty coverage.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the consumer protection agency, an independent mechanic, retail shop, or the vehicle owner can do the routine maintenance and repairs on the vehicle. Enforced by the FTC, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act makes it illegal for manufacturers or dealers to void a warranty or deny warranty coverage because a non-dealer performed maintenance or repair work.

While there may be some situations where a repair may not be covered, the manufacturer or dealer must be able to demonstrate that the third-party work caused the damage to the vehicle.

Read: The Car Maintenance Checklist Every Driver Needs

Aftermarket Parts and Your Warranty

Another misconception held by vehicle owners is that they must use manufacturer-approved parts if they don’t want their warranty voided. This is also untrue.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act also protects the vehicle owner if an aftermarket or recycled part was used on the vehicle. Therefore, manufacturers cannot force consumers to use brand name parts. The manufacturer can, however, apply for exemption, but must provide proof that the brand name part is necessary. If an aftermarket part is used and caused damage, the dealer must show that the aftermarket or recycled part caused the need for repairs before denying coverage.

With all these “ifs, and, or buts,” we recommend using our quick guide so you know how to best leverage your warranty.

How to Best Use a Vehicle’s Warranty

  1. Read the Warranty: The warranty is a promise made by the manufacturer to stand behind its product and fix certain defects or malfunctions over a period, paying for any covered repairs or part replacements. Make sure you read the fine print, so you know exactly what’s covered and what’s not.
  2. Know the Warranty Period: Get the vehicle checked out regularly during the warranty period. Follow the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule as it is important to stay on top of it. As the warranty period is about to expire, be sure to have the vehicle checked out for any covered issues, no matter how small.
  3. Keep Service Records and Receipts: No matter who does the service, keep track of all repairs; it will be necessary if the warranty needs to be used, and can increase resale value.
  4. Questions about Warranty Claim: Contact a dealer supervisor, the manufacturer or another dealer if you think your warranty claim is being addressed unfairly. If need be, file a complaint with the state Attorney General, local Better Business Bureau, or the FTC.

Read: How to Choose a Trustworthy Auto Repair Shop

Need Repairs or Replacements?

Don’t assume you must use your vehicle’s manufacturer for repairs and maintenance. Bring your vehicle into Virginia Tire & Auto for all your car repair and maintenance needs, and our talented technicians will get you back on the road safely. Schedule an  appointment at one of our 15 locations today!

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