Top tips to keep ride’s war­ranty in tip-top shape


Your new ve­hi­cle has a war­ranty so you don’t have to pay to fix it, right?

Yes, but not so fast. War­ranties aren’t one-sided. The man­u­fac­turer guar­an­tees the ve­hi­cle by cov­er­ing it for a pe­riod of time if some re­pair or re­place­ment is re­quired. Usu­ally, there’s a pre­scribed time or mileage limit that this war­ranty is in ef­fect for.

So, if you have a prob­lem be­fore the war­ranty is past that time frame, or mileage, you’re cov­ered, right?

Not nec­es­sar­ily.

There’s the other side of the war­ranty, where, you, the ve­hi­cle’s owner, are re­quired to main­tain and ser­vice it to a cer­tain stan­dard. All ve­hi­cles re­quire main­te­nance and ser­vic­ing be­cause all ve­hi­cles are ma­chines built of parts and com­po­nents that need main­te­nance and ser­vic­ing.

The gist? Your new-car war­ranty comes with a con­di­tion that you need to prop­erly main­tain it. It’s there to help in case your ongoing main­te­nance and ser­vic­ing aren’t enough to keep it from suf­fer­ing some prob­lem or re­quir­ing some re­pair.

It’s “not” there to com­pen­sate for poor main­te­nance prac­tices. In fact, any fail­ure to main­tain the ve­hi­cle prop­erly will tend to void some por­tion of that war­ranty cov­er­age, or the en­tire thing.

The war­ranty is there to help you, but there are con­di­tions.

Be­low, a few notes on some things that can ruin your war­ranty and a few ways to help main­tain that war­ranty in good stand­ing.

Read the fine print

The terms and con­di­tions of your war­ranty are laid out in your ve­hi­cle’s doc­u­men­ta­tion and you need to be fa­mil­iar with it. You’ll find out what’s cov­ered and for how long and also what you need to do to main­tain that cov­er­age. Typ­i­cally, this in­cludes on-time oil changes, on-time ser­vic­ing, reg­u­lar in­spec­tions and a pro­vi­sion that your ve­hi­cle is only re­paired and ser­viced us­ing fac­tory-spec­i­fied parts, com­po­nents and flu­ids. The fine print will also likely point you to the ser­vice sched­ule.

Ser­vice sched­ule

Near the back of the owner’s man­ual, you’ll find the ser­vice sched­ule, which out­lines cer­tain pro­ce­dures, main­te­nance work, in­spec­tions and other care your ve­hi­cle needs reg­u­larly. This in­cludes tune-ups, oil changes and fluid changes, re­place­ment of spark-plugs, wires, hoses, belts and var­i­ous ad­just­ments, lu­bri­ca­tion, tight­en­ing or ser­vic­ing of a plethora of com­po­nents. Some ser­vice items oc­cur ev­ery so many kilo­me­tres. Oth­ers oc­cur ev­ery so many months or years.

Some of these in­ter­vals are re­duced by the “se­vere use” sched­ule, which most Cana­di­ans should fol­low. Se­vere use may be de­fined as any use of the ve­hi­cle in cold tem­per­a­tures, stop-andgo traf­fic, for tow­ing, or on dirt or gravel roads. Un­less your dealer ser­vice depart­ment says oth­er­wise, you’ll likely need to fol­low the “se­vere” sched­ule to main­tain your war­ranty in good stand­ing.

Items in your ride’s ser­vice sched­ule are not op­tional; they’re manda­tory for a long and healthy life from your ma­chine and are also manda­tory for the main­te­nance of the war­ranty cov­er­age. Skip­ping or stretch­ing even one sched­uled ser­vice will put your war­ranty in jeop­ardy. It’s up to you to con­firm that all ser­vic­ing re­quire­ments are com­pleted on time.

Not ser­vic­ing your ve­hi­cle reg­u­larly is a lead­ing cause of war­ranty claim de­nial, as man­u­fac­tur­ers can deny war­ranty claims if the ve­hi­cle hasn’t been main­tained “ex­actly” as out­lined in the ser­vice sched­ule. This is es­pe­cially likely if the war­ranty claim is the re­sult of fail­ure to prop­erly main­tain the af­fected part or com­po­nent.

If you’re buy­ing a newer, in­war­ranty used car, be sure to ob­tain ser­vice records that prove no main­te­nance has ever been skipped. If not, you could be buy­ing a car with a war­ranty that’s been voided by the ac­tions of its past owner.

Don’t do this

Here’s a list of items and ac­tions that will al­most def­i­nitely void your new-car war­ranty:

Chips/ tunes: Power­boost­ing non-fac­tory elec­tron­ics can make your en­gine more pow­er­ful, but they also void any re­main­ing pow­er­train war­ranty cov­er­age, even if the of­fend­ing pro­gram­ming is re­moved be­fore a war­ranty claim for, say, a blown en­gine.

Non-fac­tory flu­ids and fil­ters: Use cau­tion if you’ll ser­vice your ve­hi­cle out­side of a dealer set­ting. If a non-fac­tory oil fil­ter fails and causes en­gine dam­age, your war­ranty won’t likely cover it. If you dam­age your trans­mis­sion or cool­ing sys­tem by al­low­ing it to be re­filled with the wrong type of fluid, that dam­age likely won’t be cov­ered by war­ranty ei­ther.

Mod­i­fi­ca­tion: If you lower your sports sedan, jack up your pickup, su­per­charge your per­for­mance coupe or oth­er­wise mod­ify your ve­hi­cle, ex­pect the war­ranty to be voided, typ­i­cally on the com­po­nents di­rectly re­lated to the mod­i­fi­ca­tion, but some­times the en­tire thing.

Re­set your oil light with­out chang­ing the oil: Some own­ers sim­ply re­set their oil change light with­out chang­ing their oil. Thing is, if you need an en­gine re­pair un­der war­ranty, you’ll likely need to prove that all oil changes have been com­pleted at or be­fore their spec­i­fied in­ter­vals, by pro­vid­ing ser­vice records. If that’s not the case, you can likely kiss the war­ranty on that ex­pen­sive en­gine “good­bye.”


Your new-car war­ranty comes with a con­di­tion that you need to prop­erly main­tain it.

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