Can A Dealership Void Your Warranty

By ROYAL FURY

Buying a new car comes with the peace of mind and protection of a manufacturer’s warranty. This comprehensive warranty covers repairs of most mechanical defects for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles of driving. But could the dealership where you bought the car ever void this important warranty leaving you unprotected?

When you invest in a new vehicle, understanding exactly what voids your car warranty is critical. This ensures you don’t inadvertently jeopardize your coverage down the road. While dealerships play a role in the warranty process,

there are limitations on their ability to entirely void warranties. Let’s explore how they intersect with your new car warranty and if violations on the buyer end can cancel your coverage.

The Purpose and Coverage of New Car Warranties

New passenger vehicles come standard with a factory warranty provided by the manufacturer, also called a bumper-to-bumper warranty. This covers the cost to repair or replace any mechanical or electrical component failures, except those subject to normal wear and tear. Warranties vary but typically span 3 years or 36,000 miles of driving.

This comprehensive protection is a major benefit to buying new. Without a warranty, repairs of critical vehicle systems can be very expensive. The warranty ensures that defects in materials or workmanship are fixed at no cost to you as the owner.

The warranty terms are outlined in your owner’s manual. Covered components include the engine, transmission, electronics, steering, air conditioning, sensors, and more. The manufacturer also provides limited powertrain warranties that go longer than the bumper-to-bumper to cover major components like the engine and transmission.

How Dealerships Administer Warranty Service

Car dealerships play an important role in serving as the point of contact when warranty repairs are required. Instead of contacting the manufacturer yourself and finding an authorized repair shop, you simply bring your vehicle to the dealership’s service department.

When you bring your car to the dealer for warranty repairs, their technicians will diagnose the problem, confirm it is covered under warranty based on your make and model’s terms, and complete the necessary repairs. The dealership will handle contacting the manufacturer and filing the appropriate warranty paperwork.

Dealerships invest heavily in having certified technicians and the required specialty tools to service their branded vehicles. So they are the best equipped to repair manufacturer defects covered under the new car warranty. The convenience of direct warranty servicing through your selling dealer provides tremendous value.

How Dealerships Administer Warranty Service
How Dealerships Administer Warranty Service

Reasons a Dealer May Deny Warranty Coverage

While dealerships facilitate easy warranty repairs, they do not actually decide if warranty coverage applies in each scenario. The manufacturer establishes warranty terms and guidelines. Dealers must abide by these to get reimbursed for repairs.

There are certain situations where a dealer service department may tell you your repair is not covered by warranty:

  • The issue is not a defect. Warranties don’t cover normal wear items like brake pads, tires, fluid changes, etc. These maintenance items are the owner’s responsibility.
  • The vehicle has exceeded age or mileage limitations. Coverage expires at the end of the time/mileage terms.
  • Required maintenance was not performed. Lack of proper servicing can void the warranty.
  • Unauthorized modifications were made. Certain aftermarket parts or alterations can jeopardize coverage.
  • Damage is from an accident, misuse, or negligence. The warranty only covers defects.

While the dealership is the bearer of bad news in these situations, they did not make the decision to decline warranty coverage. They are simply conveying the manufacturer’s assessment according to the circumstantial factors and warranty rules.

Can a Dealership Completely Void or Cancel Your Warranty?

In general, no – dealerships cannot simply void your entire new car warranty outright. They can decline warranty coverage on specific repairs that don’t meet the stated terms. But they cannot preemptively cancel the entire warranty provided by the manufacturer at time of purchase. However, their actions can impact warranty coverage.

For example, dealership errors or improper servicing that later causes vehicle damage would not be covered under warranty. Warranties only cover material or production defects from the factory. Additionally, dealerships are prohibited from making unauthorized modifications to a new vehicle, which can void portions of the warranty.

In rare cases of serious disputes, dealers may try threatening to void the customer’s warranty. But this requires substantiating any claim of gross negligence, which is highly difficult. For the most part, reputable dealerships will not make false threats about voiding warranties. They have a vested interest in maintaining a positive relationship with the manufacturer and customer.

Can A Dealership Completely Void Or Cancel Your Warranty?
Can a Dealership Completely Void or Cancel Your Warranty?

How Vehicle Owners Can Void Their Own Warranties

While dealers cannot simply cancel your warranty unprompted, there are actions on the owner end that can void coverage. Violating any terms or conditions of the warranty essentially invalidates it. Examples include:

  • Failure to perform required maintenance and servicing at specified intervals.
  • Installation of aftermarket parts not approved by the manufacturer.
  • Unauthorized alterations like lifting, lowering, or modifying the vehicle’s components.
  • Racing the vehicle or over-revving the engine.
  • Tampering with the odometer or concealing prior accident history from the dealer.
  • Continuing to drive the vehicle after a known defect develops.
  • Using dirty fluids, wrong fuel type, or improper filters.

The burden is on the owner to operate the vehicle responsibly and avoid warranty violations. Dealers can deny repairs if these provisions have been breached. So carefully read your owner’s manual to understand actions that risk voiding your new car warranty.

How to Protect Your Warranty

Here are some tips to ensure your warranty remains valid:

  • Have all service and maintenance done at authorized dealers per the schedules and procedures in your owner’s manual. Keep detailed records.
  • Avoid any modifications to mechanical or computer systems. Use only OEM-approved parts.
  • Don’t exceed time and mileage limits. Be aware of expiration dates.
  • Fix problems as soon as they occur rather than waiting until the warranty nears expiration.
  • Don’t make warranty claims for collision damage, neglect, racing or other misuse.
  • If a claim is denied, appeal to the manufacturer with documentation showing you complied with all warranty terms.
How To Protect Your Warranty
How to Protect Your Warranty

If you believe a warranty claim was wrongly denied, consider seeking advice from a consumer protection attorney. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act provides protections against improper claim denials. An attorney can help determine if you have grounds for legal action against the manufacturer.

key points on how a car’s warranty can become void:

  • Lack of maintenance records can void warranty claims if required servicing is not documented.
  • Unapproved aftermarket parts or modifications like lift kits, wheels, and tuning voids warranty coverage.
  • Accident damage or misuse like racing that requires major repairs will not be covered.
  • Normal wear items such as brake pads, wipers, and clutch wear are exempt from warranty claims.
  • Driving past the time or mileage limits voids warranty, even if an issue started while valid.
  • Improper maintenance by the owner such as missed oil changes can lead to claim denial.
  • If a dealer cannot duplicate the issue described, the claim may be denied.
  • Misusing the vehicle beyond its capabilities can void the warranty.
  • Environmental and road hazard damage is not covered under warranty.
  • Modified computer tuning of the engine can void warranty coverage on related failures.

Pursuing a Warranty Claim With Incomplete Records

If some of your vehicle’s maintenance records are missing, you can still potentially file a warranty claim, but it becomes more difficult. The key is being able to demonstrate that proper servicing was likely performed despite any documentation gaps.

Begin by gathering any documentation you do have – receipts, invoices, credit card statements indicating work performed, etc. Then take steps to reconstruct missing records, such as:

  • Contacting repair shops to obtain duplicate copies if possible. Many retain digital records that can be reproduced.
  • Checking state laws – some prohibit warranty denial based solely on lack of records if other evidence exists of maintenance.
  • Illustrating a pattern of routine servicing through the records you have. Sporadic gaps are better than nothing.
  • Using secondary cues like new parts, shop notes, and sticker reminders to show diligence.

When submitting your warranty claim, provide the best documentation possible along with a statement detailing your efforts to gather records and explaining any missing ones. Emphasize that gaps were inadvertent.

Other tips include:

  • Offering to perform standard maintenance items that cannot be confirmed, at your expense, to bring vehicle up to spec.
  • Appealing a claim denial and requesting an exception given your good faith efforts.
  • Consulting a consumer protection attorney if records reasonably substantiate claim.
  • Maintaining cooperation with dealer throughout the process.

With some legwork and flexibility, you can still potentially have a shot at warranty coverage even if some records are missing. Document your efforts and focus on showing a pattern of properly maintaining the vehicle.

FAQs

Q: Can a dealership void the entire warranty on a new car if I miss a maintenance appointment?

A: No, they cannot void the entire warranty for a single missed service. However, they may deny coverage on failures related to lack of maintenance.

Q: If I install aftermarket parts, can the dealership cancel the whole warranty?

A: Not necessarily. Installation of aftermarket parts only voids portions of the warranty covering affected components. The rest of the warranty would remain valid.

Q: What if the dealer damages my car while performing service? Does that void my warranty?

A: No, dealer errors should have no impact on the validity of your factory warranty. Any damage they cause would be their responsibility to repair.

Q: Can a dealership void the warranty because they claim I abused the vehicle?

A: They would have to substantiate any accusations of abuse, misuse or negligence. Warranties are not voided without clear evidence of such treatment.

Q: If I take my car to an independent shop, could that give the dealer reason to void my warranty?

A: No, you are legally allowed to use any shop certified for your vehicle’s make. The dealer cannot void coverage solely for using aftermarket servicing.

Q: What should I do if a dealer says they are voiding my warranty?

A: Request justification in writing along with contacting the manufacturer directly to dispute the cancellation. This likely requires escalation to resolve.

Q: How do I know what actions might jeopardize my new car warranty?

A: Carefully read your owner’s manual for the warranty terms and conditions. Following the instructions is key to maintaining coverage.

Conclusion

In summary, while dealerships play an important role in administering warranty repairs, they do not have the authority to arbitrarily void manufacturer warranties on new vehicles they sell. Warranty coverage is determined by the car manufacturer, not the dealer.

However, dealers can deny specific repair claims if they fall outside the warranty terms, such as for maintenance items, wear and tear, or modifications. Certain owner actions like negligence, lack of maintenance, or unauthorized alterations can also void warranty coverage.

It is incumbent on the owner to proactively maintain their vehicle according to the manual’s instructions and avoid warranty violations. Dealerships will simply convey and enforce the manufacturer’s decisions regarding warranty applicability on a case-by-case basis during the repair process.

Vehicle buyers should carefully review warranty documentation so they understand provisions that could impact coverage down the road. Ask the dealer clarifying questions at the time of purchase and save documentation. Following the warranty terms while properly maintaining your new vehicle will ensure you receive the coverage peace of mind you paid for.

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