MEMPHIS (WMC-TV) – Auto dealers and manufacturers cannot refuse warranty work on your car if you or an independent mechanic perform the vehicle’s regular maintenance, according to the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) and the Car Care Council (www.carcare.org).
“It’s a common misconception that only car dealers can perform the maintenance services on a newer vehicle that is under warranty,” said Rich White, the Car Care Council’s executive director. “Consumers can have maintenance services performed by their local independent repair shop or even do the work themselves without affecting the warranty.”
The federal “lemon law,” known officially as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, prohibits auto manufacturers or their dealerships from voiding or refusing warranty work when someone else maintains the car.
“It’s illegal for a dealer to deny your warranty coverage simply because you had routine maintenance or repairs performed by someone else,” said a FTC consumer alert released in December. “Routine maintenance often includes oil changes, tire rotations, belt replacement, fluid checks and flushes, new brake pads and inspections.”
Your best protection: documentation.
Scott Westbrook, owner and lead mechanic of Westbrook Auto Service Body Shop, 3966 Winchester Rd., says ‘do-it-yourselfers’ should maintain their vehicles according to manufacturers’ suggested service intervals and keep dated records of the repairs to ensure manufacturers will honor any remaining warranty work.
“Even your extended warranty — a lot of extended warranty companies require you to show proof of documentation that the proper oil changes have been done before they’ll honor their warranty agreements,” said Westbrook.
“Our manufacturer, Ford Motor Co., may ask to see maintenance records before authorizing repair or replacement of certain components such as engines and transmissions,” said Stephen Nagel, general manager of Dobbs Ford Mt. Moriah and Dobbs Ford, Lincoln/Mercury Wolfchase. “We do not deny warranty repairs because a customer services his vehicle himself or at another facility.”
If you or an independent mechanic maintains your vehicle, Westbrook recommends you keep these records:
* RECEIPTS FOR PARTS PURCHASED AND INSTALLED
* DATES/TIMES/INTERVALS/TYPES OF MAINTENANCE
* MILEAGE EACH TIME MAINTENANCE IS PERFORMED
* PROOF OF ASE CERTIFICATION (AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE EXCELLENCE) OF MECHANIC WHO PERFORMED MAINTENANCE WHEN APPLICABLE (http://www.asecert.org/)
To get the most out of your manufacturer’s warranty, the Federal Trade Commission recommends:
* READ YOUR WARRANTY. Usually paired with your owner’s manual, the warranty describes the details of your coverage. Warranty specs should also be available on your manufacturer’s website in the “owners” section.
* BE AWARE OF YOUR WARRANTY PERIOD. Know what is covered and when it expires.
* HONOR THE INTERVALS! The more you keep to the manufacturer’s suggested service intervals, the better you’re insured the manufacturer will honor your warranty.
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