Buying a new vehicle and knowing it comes with a warranty offers a certain peace of mind. However, to ensure this peace of mind is real, and your warranty will actually be there when you need it, you have some responsibilities.
First, it’s important to understand that a warranty only covers defects in parts or workmanship. It will not cover misuse or environmental damage caused by rocks, hail, or acid rain.
There are some things that may put your new vehicle or extended warranty at risk.
Skipping and stretching the scheduled maintenance of your vehicle is the most common behavior that can affect or void your warranty. Know the maintenance requirements of your vehicle and when your new vehicle is required to be serviced, both in terms of kilometers travelled and length of time.
It’s important to note that you may be required to prove that you have properly maintained your vehicle and met the requirements to maintain your warranty.
Services mean much more than just oil changes. They also consist of things like tire rotation, checking suspension, brakes and air filters. Failure to replace a dirty cabin air filter could result in air conditioner repairs that would no longer be covered by your warranty.
If you have your services done at your dealership, the records are kept for you and the manufacturer already knows that you have looked after your vehicle. If you have your services done elsewhere, like a tire shop or quick lube be sure to save the receipts in a file so that you can prove the maintenance schedule was met.
Changing your own oil can be harder to prove. Simply having a receipt for oil and an oil filter doesn’t actually prove that the oil was changed or that the other service items we conducted. If you insist on changing your own oil, keep records and pictures of the old filter and odometer. The more proof you can provide, the better.
Improper use of the vehicle may also void your warranty. Street racing, aggressive off roading, towing too heavy of loads are just a few examples. Commercial use of the vehicle may also affect the warranty. Have a conversation about how you will be using the vehicle at the time of purchase to ensure you will still be covered. You don’t want to be surprised with a large bill.
Making alterations to your new vehicle can also affect or void your warranty. Lift kits, changes to the wiring for lighting, and other after-market additions may affect part, or all, of your warranty. Check with your dealership’s service department before making alterations to ensure you will still be covered.
Another thing to consider is where you live. If you live in a rural area you may not have a dealership close by.
Warranty work and recalls generally need to be performed at a dealership or sometimes another certified shop. You may be required to return the vehicle to the nearest dealership to have recalls or warranty work performed. If the nearest dealership is a thousand kilometers away this may cause you issues.
There may be a shop certified to do some work on behalf of the manufacturer in your area, but these shops may not have all the right diagnostic tools or equipment to do all repairs.
How will you get the vehicle back to the nearest dealership or certified repair shop? How long will that take? How long will you be without a vehicle? Would you be provided with a rental vehicle while your new vehicle is having the work performed? These are all questions that may have unclear answers.
If the vehicle is unsafe to drive then the manufacturer may cover the cost of having the vehicle towed to the nearest dealership. However, it would probably still be your responsibility to pick the vehicle up once the repairs or recall are performed. If you live a long way away this may be a burden and have costs involved.
Sometimes if you extend the factory warranty of purchase pre-paid maintenance you may have more coverage in these situations. Check on this when purchasing your vehicle, so you at least know your options.
You may also have coverage with other roadside assistance programs purchased, or possibly provided by organizations you belong to, like the Canadian Automobile Association.
It’s important to have these conversations at the time of purchase. Ask these questions while you are in the process of purchasing a new vehicle. Know what your coverage is and what your responsibilities are to properly maintain that coverage. Knowing in advance can save you a lot of frustration later.
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