What you may miss out on by ignoring your vehicle's warranty

Posted July 28, 2017 10:12 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:05 p.m. EDT

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An agreement between the purchaser of the vehicle and either the manufacturer or the dealer of the vehicle, vehicle warranties are now a standard part of a car sale.

As required by law, the manufacturer or dealer who provides the warranty must provide the terms of the contract at the time of sale.

Both sides of the agreement have conditions they must hold for the warranty to be respected by the other party. And if any claims are made on a covered part of the vehicle before the contract period is up, the provider must pay for the repair.

The onus isn't completely on the seller, though. The person who has acquired the warranty for their vehicle is required to keep up with all of the recommended maintenance, is not permitted to make any modifications, and must maintain adequate records of any servicing.

Too often, car owners ignore the requirements of their warranty and accidentally void the contract, and not understanding the warranty can also mean not being aware of benefits they are entitled to.

"Avoid leaving large amounts of money on the table," explained Mark Campbell, general sales manager at Leith Autopark in Wendell.

Campbell added, "I recommend that guests that are not sure if a repair is covered should go to the service department of the vehicle brand they drive to see if the issue they're having with their car is in fact covered."

There are a number of things that vehicle owners commonly miss out on by ignoring their warranties, including part replacements, roadside assistance and powertrain warranties.

Part Replacements

Vehicle warranties are usually described as "bumper to bumper," meaning they cover all parts of the automobile. If a car part fails, and it is still under warranty, the vehicle owner should make sure they file a claim.

The exception to this is the vehicle's tires because they are covered by the tire company.

Leith : Spotlight : Roadside Assistance

Roadside Assistance

Increasingly, vehicle warranties are including roadside assistance in their terms.

Kia, Chrysler, Ford and other manufacturers offer roadside assistance to vehicles covered by warranty.

"Warranties are becoming another area where car manufacturers compete for business. Manufacturers are constantly updating terms and coverage options to gain an edge in the marketplace," Campbell said. "They also continue to add additional perks to include 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car options and trip interruption coverage. Of course, ask your local dealer for clarification on any warranties and perks that are included with the purchase of the vehicle first."

Powertrain Warranties

Not understanding a powertrain warranty can be one of the most expensive mistakes people make as a car owner.

While the "bumper to bumper" covers the entire car, the powertrain warranty applies only to the engine and transmission. These warranties are more limited in what they cover but are usually in effect for many more miles or years.

If one's engine or transmission fails after their "bumper to bumper" coverage has expired, they should make sure the vehicle did not also offer a powertrain warranty before they pull out the checkbook to pay for it out of their own pocket.

Everything, if You Void it

The last thing you could miss out on if you don't understand your warranty is the warranty itself.

There are many ways to void a warranty, and each of these variables depends on the specific warranty contract.

If there are maintenance and record-keeping requirements, the vehicle owner should make sure to follow those closely. If they do not, the entire agreement could be nullified.

The main lesson is that a warranty is only as good as the owner’s understanding of it.

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