Understanding Car Warranties and Repair Options
By: manybanking.com Staff

By manybanking.com Staff
When you buy or lease a new car, it always comes with a manufacturer’s warranty. This is a basic warranty that covers all of the car’s systems. The length of the warranty varies between manufacturers, but most automakers offer at least a three-year or 36,000 mile basic warranty.

In addition to the basic warranty, you also have the drivetrain, or powertrain, warranty. This covers the major components of a vehicle, including the engine and transmission, among other things. This warranty runs concurrent with the basic warranty and is often extended beyond the basic warranty term. Chrysler even offered a “Lifetime Powertrain Warranty,” but that only applied to the vehicle’s original owner.

Having a warranty is very valuable because car repairs can be expensive.  As long as your warranty is intact, you don’t have to come out of pocket to get our car fixed. In order to keep your car in proper working condition, however, it’s necessary to have it serviced at regular intervals.

Car maintenance is not usually covered by your warranty. You can take your car back to the dealership to have it serviced or go to an independent service station. Going to an independent shop instead of the dealership can save you money, as they often charge lower prices and offer promotional discounts.

A total misconception for any car owner is that an independent service station will void their warranty. Taking your vehicle to a service station other than your car dealership will have no effect. The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (along with the general principles of the FTC) protects consumers from having their warranties voided by choosing an alternative service station. If that were allowed, it would amount to restraint of trade and violate laws of competition. Consequently, you are allowed to choose which shop you would like to perform your maintenance services at, but you should choose one that is licensed and certified.

You are also allowed to use quality car parts from any maker on your car without voiding the warranty. If you need to have filters, spark plugs or other parts replaced, you don’t have to use the same equipment provided by the manufacturer. For major repairs, however, you should take your car back to the dealership because the parts and repairs will most likely be covered under the warranty.

Additionally, you are permitted to make any cosmetic aftermarket changes you want without voiding the warranty. For example, changing the paint color, adding a spoiler, tinting the windows or upping the wheel size has no bearing on your car’s warranty.

It is possible to void your warranty, however, by not having maintenance performed at regular intervals. Consult your owner’s manual to find the manufacturer’s recommended schedule of maintenance services, like oil changes. Make sure you schedule service according to these recommendations and keep the receipts as proof should your warranty ever be challenged.

—For more ways to save, spend, invest and borrow, visit MainStreet.com.

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