What Would Void my Vehicle Warranty?

For many car, truck, and SUV buyers, the vehicle’s warranty is an important part of the entire package. Manufacturers know this – it’s why most cars now come with five- or seven-year comprehensive warranties, and some come with up to 10 years! At the same time, many are offering mileage up to 50,000, 70,000, and even 100,000 miles. They know it's what you, the buyers, are looking for. Even used cars now come with extended warranties.

Knowing how valued these warranties are, you need to do the best you can to avoid voiding them.

What is a Warranty?
A warranty is essentially a contract between you and the manufacturer or dealership. It protects you against costly repairs caused by factory defaults or faulty components. But as with any contract, there are caveats and concessions. You are agreeing to behave and treat your vehicle in such a manner as to reduce the potential for an issue to occur.

Warranties don’t guarantee that you’re free from having to pay for repairs during your vehicle ownership. They have a set list of coverages. They don’t cover regular maintenance or collisions for the most part. There are also different types of warranties – bumper-to-bumper, powertrain, stated component, and more.

A car warranty, manufacturer’s warranty, or dealer warranty should not be confused with a vehicle service contract or extended auto warranty. These are not backed by the manufacturer, instead being backed by a third party.

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Common Ways People Accidentally Void their Car Warranty
There are a number of protections out there for consumers when it comes to warranties. The Federal Trade Commission offers good information for consumers regarding auto warranties, service contracts and more. The Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, in place since 1975, guarantees fair warranties on vehicles and more, and ensures they are in plain language and easy to understand. These have made warranties clear cut – so it’s worth giving yours a read to avoid doing something that will void it!

However, there are some common acts that will void almost all car and truck warranties. These include:

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  • Improper Maintenance: This is the biggest reason for warranty voiding. Failure to properly maintain and service your vehicle moves the responsibility on to you if something should fail. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. Failing to follow the manufacturer’s care suggestions means they don’t have to back you up should your failure cause a bigger failure. This includes using improper fluids – if the manual says to use 5W-20 or better oil and you do not, the manufacturer is not liable for engine failures.

  • Aftermarket Alterations: Part of the Magnusson-Moss act protects the vehicle owners if they use an aftermarket or recycled part – so go ahead and use a different brand of oil filter, or different brands of tires. However, if that aftermarket part can be determined to have caused the damage, the manufacturer can deny it. And it goes without saying, the manufacturer is not responsible for the failures of an aftermarket part. If you raise your SUV and the aftermarket suspension fails, damaging the vehicle, it’s not the vehicle manufacturer’s fault. That’s on you, the suspension manufacturer, and the mechanic who installed it.
  • Misuse of Vehicle: Off-road driving when a vehicle is not made for it, racing, reckless driving, exceeding payload and towing capacities – these are all considered misuse. Understand what does and doesn’t qualify as standard use with your vehicle, and also understand that the manufacturer has to be able to prove it. Parked your SUV in a lawn? That’s not off-road misuse. Tried to ford a deep off-road river in an Elantra? Yeah, that probably is.

  • Total Loss: Once a vehicle is marked a total loss and given a salvage title, the manufacturer is no longer responsible for any part of that vehicle.

  • Severe Environmental Damage: The bad news is that if a flood or tornado destroys your vehicle, or damages it severely, the warranty won’t cover it. On the bright side, that’s one of the reasons you have car insurance. Make sure your insurance covers natural disasters!

  • Altered Odometer: Aside from breaking a warranty, odometer fraud is an illegal activity. Don’t do it. A warranty includes mileage specifications – altering the odometer prevents the manufacturer from guaranteeing the vehicle is within these limits.

  • The good news is that many of these are easily avoidable. Generally, just being a responsible vehicle owner is enough to keep your vehicle under warranty.

    Vehicle Warranty Information at Bobby Rahal Acura in Mechanicsburg, PA | Mechanic in red shirt working under the hood of car
    Avoid the Void
    While being a good owner is key, you’ll still want to take some steps and avoid some things to retain your vehicle’s warranty. There are a couple of ways to can avoid accidentally voiding your warranty:

    1.Read It Thoroughly: In particular, look for the section that is usually titled “What is Not Covered”. There is usually a printed version of the warranty in your owner’s manual. Highlight it if needed to remind yourself of things that are not covered.

    2.Consult with Your Dealer: If you don’t understand parts of your warranty, or are considering modifications, have a discussion with a dealer or knowledgeable mechanic. They may be able to point out what would or would not void your warranty.

    3.Regular Service: A major part of keeping your warranty intact is servicing your vehicle regularly. Not to mention, it’s also a good way to avoid problems that may cause the warranty to come up in the first place. Regular servicing following the manufacturer’s guidelines helps to secure your warranty. It doesn’t have to be exact – if you do your 15,000-mile service at 15,030 miles, you don’t have to be concerned – but it does need to be reasonably close.

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    Vehicle Warranty Information at Bobby Rahal Acura in Mechanicsburg, PA | Couple looking at computer screen and paperwork happily

    4.Keep Good Records and Receipts: This is a big thing that is recommended if you are looking to sell a vehicle, but is also proof you have done the necessary maintenance to keep the warranty intact. This includes records and receipts if you are working on the vehicle yourself, as well as anything the dealer may do. You won’t be punished for changing your own oil – just make sure you’ve got the receipts for it if you need to use your warranty!

    5.Second Opinion or Interpretation: If you feel a warranty claim has been unfairly denied, or a dealership tells you that any work you are asking for is out of warranty when you feel it is covered, you can always pursue another opinion. You can take it to another dealership, speak with a supervisor, or even escalate it to a manufacturer. Unfortunately, what is considered under warranty can sometimes be subjective – get another opinion! You have the right to dispute a refusal to cover.

    Your warranty is a key component of vehicle ownership. So make sure you’re getting the full coverage! Get the most out of your car, truck, or SUV and make sure you have peace of mind that if something goes wrong, you’ll be able to get the most out of your manufacturer’s warranty!

    Want to learn more about the warranties we offer? Have questions about warranties? Ready to visit our dealership? Contact our staff at Bobby Rahal Acura and we’ll walk you through any questions you may have.