Every day I talk to my customers about the advantages of maintaining their car regular. One question I often have to answer is, “But, Dave, can I keep my car warranty in force if I have my regular car maintenance done by an independent service facility?” You may be surprised to learn that the answer is, “Yes.”
You Can Choose Who Does Your Vehicle Maintenance
The car manufacturer reimburses the dealer for the cost of warranty-related work. This is why only authorized dealers can perform repairs covered by your warranty without charging you. But those dealers also promote the notion that only they can perform the regular maintenance required to keep the warranty in force. That’s not true.
Any state licensed repair shop can perform any repair or scheduled car maintenance services — oil changes, fluid replacement, brake pads, etc. — and keep the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty in force. Your right to choose who provides your regular car maintenance is even protected by federal legislation: the Magnuson-Moss Act.
Maintain Your Car and Keep Your Car Service Records
Keeping your warranty in force requires three simple things:
- You DO need to maintain your car according to the terms of the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- You must be able to present dated service records to prove the services were performed.
- Any replacement components like fluids and filters must be certified to meet the manufacturer’s original specifications.
If you’ve satisfied those three requirements, you’ve done everything you need to do to maintain your warranty. Please note that these requirements apply no matter who does your service: the dealer or an independent.
Vehicle Warranty Repair Claims
Here’s how it works: Let’s say you’ve been coming to Hillside Auto Repair (or any independent shop) for the first 25,000 miles you own your car, getting regular service for oil changes and so forth. You’re hearing a noise in the engine. We determine that it’s an engine problem that needs repair under your warranty. You take your service records from us to show the dealer that you’ve done everything by the book. That dealer should perform the necessary repair under the terms of the warranty.
What if that’s not what happens? What if the dealer looks at the car and says, “You don’t have a genuine Toyota oil filter on this Camry. You’ve violated the terms of your warranty.” What do you do then?
Can I Use Aftermarket Parts?
You may have been advised by your car’s manufacturer that the only way to preserve your warranty is to use “genuine” brand parts. None of the auto manufacturers actually make oil filters, brake pads, batteries, spark plugs, oil filters, wiper blades, oil, tires, ignition wiring, alternators, water pumps, air filters or fuel filters. It may say Toyota or Ford or Honda on the part or the package, but that branding was done by the original manufacturer.
New car manufacturers assemble cars, but this doesn’t mean they manufacture all the parts they use to assemble their cars. A good example of this is the oil that goes into your car. You wouldn’t expect every car manufacturer to be in the business of making their own oil, would you? Likewise, the same holds true for tires, wiper blades, spark plugs, filters, gaskets, electronic sensors, braking parts, air conditioning parts … the list goes on and on. Any time a dealer is talking to you about “genuine” parts, they may be crossing the line and violating the Magnuson-Moss Act, because as long as a part is manufactured to the specifications of the manufacturer, it makes no difference if their name is on the part or not.
If the dealer tells you the manufacturer’s warranty required that your regular maintenance use the manufacturer’s brand replacement parts, don’t believe it. Ask the dealer to submit your warranty repair request to the manufacturer, and, supported by your service records which prove that the replacement parts met all requirements, your warranty repairs will be covered.
Wishing you safe and happy motoring.
Owner, Hillside Auto Repair