Car Care Tips

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Maintenance January 6, 2020

What Voids Your Car Warranty? Here’s What You Need to Know

car warranties

When it comes to your vehicle, the last thing you want to do is void your warranty. Your car warranty is a promise from the manufacturer that, for a set period of time, they will fix any defects or malfunctions and pay for covered repairs or part replacements.

Many vehicle owners believe that all repairs, maintenance, and parts must go through the dealership for the vehicle to stay under warranty. But that simply isn’t true. If you’re unsure what voids a warranty on a car, keep reading to discover if your car is still under warranty.

Do I have to always take my car to the dealership to stay under warranty?  

Can a manufacturer deny warranty coverage if you take the vehicle to a non-dealer shop for maintenance and repairs? No! If you go somewhere other than the dealer, it will not void your warranty.

Because of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, it is illegal for vehicle manufacturers or dealers to void a warranty or deny a warranty claim because of work performed by a non-dealer. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the manufacturer or dealer can only require vehicle owners to use a specific repair facility if the repair services are provided free of charge under the warranty.

So vehicle owners have several options to stay on top of routine maintenance and repairs. They can use the dealership, visit an automotive maintenance provider (like Virginia Tire & Auto) or do it themselves.

An important note: if your vehicle is damaged as a result of a repair or service done by you or your mechanic, the manufacturer/dealer has the right to deny the warranty claim. They must, however, be able to prove that the third-party work—not a vehicle defect—caused the damage to the vehicle. Even if this happens, it does not void the warranty for the rest of your car.

Read: The Car Maintenance Checklist Every Driver Needs

Will using aftermarket parts void my warranty?

Another misconception is that you have to use manufacturer-approved parts to keep your vehicle under warranty. 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. So, manufacturers cannot force consumers to use brand name parts unless the part is provided for free under the warranty.

Manufacturers can deny warranty coverage if an aftermarket part or modification caused damage to the vehicle. But they must be able to show that the aftermarket part caused the damage.

What can void a car warranty?

Taking your car somewhere other than the dealership or using aftermarket parts won’t void the manufacturer’s warranty, but there are some activities that can void your warranty, including:

  • Off-Road Driving
  • Racing or Reckless Driving
  • Overloading
  • Natural Disasters (flooding, fire, earthquake, etc.)
  • Poor Car Maintenance
  • Using Improper Fluids
  • Some Aftermarket Parts or Modifications (see above)

How to Maximize Your Vehicle’s Warranty

  1. Read the Warranty: A basic vehicle warranty, often called a “bumper to bumper” warranty, typically offers coverage for 3 years/36,000 miles (whichever comes first). A powertrain warranty, which covers defects in the engine, transmission, and other powertrain parts, usually lasts longer—around 6 years or 70,000 miles. Some manufacturers also offer warranties for emissions and corrosion. Make sure you read the fine print so you know exactly what’s covered and what’s not.
  2. Service the Car at Regular Intervals: Car manufacturers can void your warranty if you fail to follow the factory guidelines and perform routine maintenance. This includes oil changes, fluid flushes and other services. To be on the safe side, read your owner’s manual and follow the suggested maintenance schedule. And when the warranty period is about to expire, be sure to have the vehicle checked out for any covered issues.
  3. Keep Service Records and Receipts: No matter who does the service, keep track of all repairs; you’ll need the information if you need to use the warranty. It can also increase the vehicle’s 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. Our talented technicians will get you back on the road safely. Schedule an appointment at any of our locations today!

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