The new-vehicle warranty is designed to protect both the manufacturer and consumer. It warrants certain parts of the vehicle for a specified period of time or a specific number of miles. It also limits the manufacturers’ liability beyond those points.
Knowing what’s covered, and what’s not, is important for all concerned. So the specific coverage, detailed in the warranty statement that comes with each vehicle, is important information for both consumers and repair shops alike.
Some owners fear that they’ll void the warranty if the manufacturer’s dealership doesn’t service their new vehicle. According to the federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, you can have your vehicle serviced by any competent independent service station, shop or garage and still maintain your warranty.
In addition, you can use any brand-name quality parts to service the vehicle; the manufacturer cannot require you to use original equipment brand spark plugs, filters, oil, belts, hoses, brakes, wiper blades or any other parts unless they’re supplied for free.
All you have to do to keep your warranty in force is have the vehicle serviced at the intervals specified in your Owner’s Manual or Warranty Booklet, and keep careful records. Note that the manufacturer’s definition of "severe service" (which requires more frequent maintenance) may be what you consider normal driving.
Service receipts should list the date, odometer reading, make, model and vehicle identification number, and show the brand names of all parts used. If there’s a service log in your Owner’s Manual or Warranty Booklet, fill it in for each service visit.
If your vehicle breaks down and the defective parts are still covered by your warranty, the dealer should make the repairs. Manufacturers rarely reimburse customers for warranty work done at independent shops, other than in emergency situations where one of their dealers is not readily available. But make sure the part really is covered by the warranty before you bring your vehicle to the dealer.
Many warranties are a package of different coverage's for different time periods. The Basic Warranty covers most parts on the vehicle. Separate Emissions System Warranty programs exist for many makes and models, which may vary from state to state. See your Warranty Booklet for the specific emissions system warranty details for your vehicle.
A separate Powertrain Warranty may cover the engine, transmission and driveline for a longer period. It may have a $50 or $100 deductible that the vehicle owner must pay. Other equipment groups may be covered for varying periods of time.
The Corrosion Warranty pays for the repair of body parts, but only if rust eats a hole all the way through the metal. Paint bubbles, "cosmetic" rust or damage from paints scratches and industrial/environmental fallout is not usually covered.
Many imports offer a roadside assistance program – often provided by a car club such as AAA. These typically provide free towing, jump starts and other emergency services.
Read your owner's Manual to find what is covered and what is your responsibility!