Motorists will occasionally ask me about the limitations on their vehicle warranty.
For instance, what if a vehicle’s drive train malfunctions just after the expiration of a new vehicle warranty? Will the manufacturer and/or dealer cover the costs of repairs anyway? What about “special considerations,” or “secret warranties?” Do they exist?
Let’s examine these questions in further detail.
First off, a standard new car warranty on passenger vehicles and light trucks is three years and at least 60,000 kms (whichever comes first). Some manufacturers offer four- and five-year warranties of 100,000 kms or more.
Standard protection covers mechanical deficiencies that occur during normal use, not including wear-and-tear items such as filters, fluids, brake friction materials, belts, hoses and tires. Batteries may carry a separate guarantee that is pro-rated based on usage, and the original tires usually do not come with a warranty.
Compared to warranties you get on new homes or appliances, new car warranty coverage is very generous, considering the extreme weather conditions in which a vehicle operates and thousands of hours and kilometers of driving.
Customers’ responsibilities under a warranty include maintaining their vehicle so parts do not fail because of neglect. Occasionally, I hear about engines or transmissions that are destroyed because the owner failed to perform basic maintenance. Service advisors don’t enjoy telling customers they must pay for repairs that were entirely avoidable.
While the car manufacturer provides the standard warranty, new car dealerships administer it. Technically, if a customer requires repairs that fall outside of the standard warranty coverage, neither the manufacturer nor the dealer is legally required to cover the cost of repairs.
Does that mean dealers and manufacturers never cover “out of warranty” items? For the most part, “Yes.” However, on rare occasions, such a repair might be covered, or partially covered, based on the extent of repairs and the customer’s relationship with that new car dealership (usually through servicing a vehicle there).
There’s a big difference between asking a manufacturer/dealer to cover the cost of a worn tie-rod end if a vehicle is 50 kms out of warranty and asking for an entire engine replacement if a vehicle is 10,000 kms out of warranty.
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Some manufacturers may offer partial assistance (i.e., no charge for the parts if you pay for the labour) on an out-of-warranty item, under a “goodwill policy.” Your local dealer can tell you if this form of assistance is available.
Readers may have heard of the term “secret warranty.” A secret warranty is a misnomer sometimes used to describe when a manufacturer makes arrangements to repair a deficient item after a vehicle is out of warranty — but not on safety-related items (that’s when recalls are issued).
On this point I want to be clear: If your vehicle is out of warranty and repairs are required, your new car dealer will inform you that you will have to pay for those repairs in full. That’s not to say that customers can’t approach auto manufacturers directly to request special consideration.
When researching a new vehicle purchase, optional extended warranty protection should be considered. As good as today’s vehicles are, they are complex machines, and an extended warranty plan is a good thing to buy.
Many plans extend the warranty expiry date and kilometers from day one of ownership, offer other added benefits, and carry on coverage well after the standard new car warranty ends.
Consumers should examine their driving habits carefully and calculate anticipated kilometers of driving, during the length of ownership. Optional warranty protection may make perfect sense.
To find out more about dealerships and career opportunities in the automotive industry, visit carsandjobs.com.
This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to email@example.com or go to tada.ca. Bob Redinger is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is a new-car dealer in the GTA.