Know What Can Void Your Cars Warranty (And Avoid It)
In this post, I will take you through exactly the types of things you can do to, or with your car that could easily void out your vehicles entire warranty. If by the end of this post you have any additional questions or concerns, please leave them in the comment section below. I will personally look into them and answer your questions.
What voids car warranties can vary, along with their ramifications. For example: Simply messing up one part under the hood doesn’t mean the entire engine is now void of any coverage. One sure way to know if you have voided your car’s warranty is to wait until it breaks and head in for service, but who wants to end up in that position? So, let’s dive in and address exactly what it means to get your car’s warranty voided, how it can happen in the first place, and how you can ensure it doesn’t happen to you.
Do I have to get my car serviced at the dealership to keep warranty?
One of the most popular questions I am asked, and that I see all across the internet, relates to if the dealership is the only place you can take a car under warranty. The Law doesn’t require you to get your service done at the dealership, but it does allow for the manufacturer or the dealership to mandate that you use only certain repair facilities. You see, what most people aren’t aware of is that the dealership isn’t simply “covered” for any work they do on warrantied cars.
Going To The Dealer For Warranty Work (Required?)
Like any mechanic, they have to submit a claim…
for the work they do and there is always a chance that the claim doesn’t get paid. When this can affect you is when a repair is performed incorrectly. If the dealership messes up, you are off the hook, if your personal mechanic messes up, you lost your warranty for that part and every other part they deem affected. So, you have some leeway but proceed at your own risk.
Custom Vehicle Modifications And Aftermarket Parts/Accessories.
Here is one voiding factor that is all over the place in terms of definition. Many out there think that simply adding a part not considered “Stock” or “Factory Built” is grounds for most or all of your warranty to be voided, and although many dealers would like you to think that, you should know that isn’t really true. Simply having a custom or aftermarket part installed on your vehicle isn’t the determining factor, the service department of the dealership must prove that the part was a contributing factor in whatever damage occurred.
Protected By Law (Sort Of)
Thankfully back in the 70’s (1975 to be exact) they actually passed a law [Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act]. This law stated that a dealer MUST prove aftermarket parts were the cause of any damage BEFORE being able to deny any aspect of a vehicle’s warranty.
However, if no direct cause is discovered upon the initial inspection, the burden of proof shifts a bit, and now the dealer can charge you for a full diagnosis, which you are obligated to pay for. If the diagnosis uncovers that your part did not have any effect on the damage, you are covered and the cost of the diagnosis is refunded. If it is discovered that your parts did cause the damage, well, you know what happens…
Don’t Be A Red Flag To The Dealership
Dealership service departments are constantly on the lookout for anyone tampering with a vehicle under warranty, and before anyone gets upset with that remember- It’s their job! If you want that custom K&N Air Intake for the extra 15 horsepower you need to consider if at the most it’s worth losing your warranties, or at the least it’s worth a struggle every time you have a mechanical issue.
Hard as it may be to believe, or maybe not, but there are people out there who never take their car in for service and go years without getting so much as even an oil change. Problem is that this type of thing leads to MAJOR problems and if it is discovered that a clear lack of care for the vehicle was at fault, or even that you just never paid any attention to the vehicles scheduled maintenance, it will be an easy decision to void your warranty and not cover any of the resulting damage.
Don’t Use Dirty Or Improper Fluids
This one isn’t so much of an issue anymore because so many more people just rely on the dealership for service during their warranty, but if you put brake fluid in the power steering fluid, or oil into the transmission, you will be the proud recipient of a voided warranty for the affected parts. Also, always use the correct Octane fuel (87/89/93) and be careful about the new ethanol mixes and the diesel pumps at the gas station.
Mother Nature And Total Loss or Salvage Vehicles
If your vehicle was flooded or damaged as the result of any other great natural disaster, your warranty is voided. Additionally, if your vehicle was declared salvaged or marked down as a total loss by the insurance company, the entire vehicle’s warranty is canceled out. To check if your cars history report, or a car you are interested in buying, for any negative records that could potentially risk the vehicles factory warranties, head over to our article- “How Do I Get A Carfax For Free?”
Improper Or Misuse Of A Vehicle
- Off Roading
- Street Racing
We could get in the weeds a bit here, but generally, this refers to you using your vehicle in any way that could be considered “Outside of the norm”. So if you take your Honda Civic off roading= Outside of the norm. Sometimes this stuff only affects certain parts of the car, but if the damage was bad enough they can void the entire warranty. Probably one of the most common mistakes people make is racing. You may have a vehicle with high-performance gear, but that may not mean they feel it within their warranty to take it to the strip and race for slips (Pink slips-Titles).
And don’t be surprised if you find out dealers have access to race records in an attempt to see what you have been up to, because those records aren’t difficult to get along with tons of pictures, and they have been known to pull it off. Off Roading is another trap most car buyers are never made aware of until it is too late. If you think that buying a 4X4 Off Road means you can do anything off the road and be covered:
YOU ARE WRONG.
Edmunds even tells of a story where they were testing a truck in the desert and took it lightly off road at about 10-15 mph. Noticing it wasn’t driving the same on the way back they took it in for service and sure enough the dealership tried to say the struts (that were all blown) were used in excess and that they wouldn’t be covering the repairs. If in doubt, call the dealership before doing anything questionable, or I guess, even remotely questionable.
An Altered odometer or a “Rollback“, is in reference to the act of altering the mileage reading of a vehicle on the dash/display so as to make it appear the vehicle was driven or used less than it actually was. Not only is this illegal, it will also void the entire warranty on your vehicle without question. As cars become more and more tech-heavy this is becoming harder and harder to do, and less common, but it is still worth a mention if you buy a car with warranty from someone who has decided to be tricky.
Does A Car Accident Void The Warranty On A Car?
Only an accident that results in a salvage or branded title can void a vehicle’s warranty. That being said, if the shop that repairs your vehicle’s damage replaces any stock parts with aftermarket parts, a dealership may try to blame those parts for separate damage down the road which COULD result in a voided warranty. To avoid this I would alert the insurance company and/or the repair shop (In writing) to your warranty status so they can make proper arrangements to use only approved parts.
Cold Air Intake Installation And Car Warranties (The Bottom Line)
The issue of whether a Cold Air Intake Will Void Your Warranty comes down to whether your manufacturer can prove the addition of your…
- Air Induction System
- Air Filter
- Or Intake System
…. Negatively impacted your vehicle to the point that it caused other parts to perform differently and break. I know that sounded a bit legal in my explanation, but that’s how you will have it explained to you when you are told your parts will not be covered.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Generally, you can expect the installation of an aftermarket intake system or air filter, like those commonly found on websites such as:
NOT to void your factory warranty, but this does not mean that you should just begin the modifications. I would advise anyone with a factory, or even an extended warranty for that matter, to check with their coverage provider or dealership service department before altering any part of your vehicle. While you are at it, it probably wouldn’t hurt to get the approval in writing!
Does Lowering A Car Void The Warranty?
Absolutely! You may not void the entire warranty, in fact, you won’t, but you will certainly cancel any part of the warranty that is associated with the suspension.
Does Lifting A Truck Or Car Void The Warranty?
Yes, just as with lowering a car, if you alter your suspension in any way or install any parts that exceed the manufacturer’s specifications, there is a good to definite chance that your entire suspension will have its warranty voided.
Do Performance Chips Void A Cars Warranty?
Yes, performance chips can and likely will result in your warranty being voided as they are designed to maximize or place added stress on certain parts of the vehicle. Although it could be argued that these “stresses” are still within the limits that the vehicle can reasonably handle, they will be considered to be outside of the vehicles “Normal everyday use” and that will make canceling your warranty easy in the eyes of the dealership/manufacturer.
Do Exhaust Systems Void A Cars Warranty?
This is going to be similar to air intakes as they don’t “REALLY” hurt the vehicle but, most certainly qualify as aftermarket parts that push the vehicle beyond it’s everyday use. The biggest hurdle for the dealerships service department here would be proving that an aftermarket exhaust really caused related damage somewhere else in the vehicle. Is the exhaust worth possibly losing a significant part of your hard earned warranty? That’s for you to decide.
Salvage Titles And Voiding Your Warranty
The question I’m sure you are asking is: Does A Salvage Title Void A Car Warranty? Yes, absolutely, no doubt. A vehicle that has been salvaged is considered to have been a total loss and in all respects not safe to drive. So, in the truest sense it has experienced so much damage there is no chance that any person could “reasonably” expect any part of the vehicle to perform up to the standards it did the day it rolled out of the factory.
Tips For Avoiding Problems With Your Car’s Warranty
How To Use Your Cars Warranty
Adult baseball and softball players (Some anyway) have a little trick they do to get a new bat for free- They buy a bat with a standard 365-day warranty, and just before that warranty runs out, they find a way to get it to crack. The result= New bat! Now, I’m not advising you to break your car! However, if your warranty is coming to an end and your car is still running fine, know that you need to take it in any way. They can and must repair anything wrong even if you are unaware of the problem. Why? Well, if God forbid something happens to you and it is the result of a defect or a repair they did not resolve and should have, they are in serious financial trouble. So, get in there before the deadline, even if you have to rent a car, it’s worth it!
Pay Attention To Your Service Schedule
This is one of the easiest ways to void your warranty, as we discussed in some length above. Most dealers are pretty good about reminding you of your service requirements, mainly because they want to get you back in to buy more stuff or even flip you into a newer car, but if those emails go to junk you need to be aware of when it’s time to head in. A good rule of thumb is to set a reminder for the 3k mile oil change. Many newer cars already signal an alert that you are at that mark, but sometimes people know these newer cars can handle longer intervals so they reset it and ride on. Convenience isn’t worth risking your vehicle’s warranty.
Keep All Of Your Service Records, Even Those From The Dealership
Anything you get done on the car should go directly into a file in your home. The first reason being to prove you had service done if there is a claim of neglect. The second to be to document what was done in case you went outside of the dealership for any additional work such as tires, oil, etc…
Read Over Your Warranty In Detail
All that time you spend in the dealership? Use it to read over your warranty. Better yet, research each manufacturers warranty while deciding on a car. The best way to be caught by surprise is to have never known in the first place!
Don’t Always Take No For An Answer
As we discussed earlier, the voiding of warranties isn’t all that cut and dry. You may get a service manager who is more strict than usual, or maybe they have had some repairs not covered by the manufacturer lately and that has caused them to go on defense. Either way, there is a chain of command that you can appeal to, and you should. If that doesn’t work and you are dead set that you are being wronged, you can appeal to your State Attorney General, Local Consumer Protection Office, and/or the FTC.
If you are still with me, I thank you! As always, I hope I have brought some level of assistance and knowledge to your car buying and in this case, car ownership journey, as it relates to voided vehicle warranties. As always- If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments below or contact us using the general contact form on our home page. We do not sell your information to anyone! Thank you again, and happy car shopping!