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?
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.
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.