A manufacturer warranty on a new car is a nice bit of free insurance and it’s important to keep it valid. You don’t have to use the manufacturer’s garage or mechanics to do so. But any work you have done must be carried out to an equivalent standard with approved parts. Read on for more detail.
What is a manufacturer warranty?
When you buy a new car, it comes with a guarantee. This is called a warranty and is a legally binding document. It guarantees that the car won’t go wrong and if it does, the manufacturer makes itself liable to put things right.
Warranties usually last for three years but with some car makers they can be for five or seven years. Some have a maximum mileage so they’ll last for that or the time period, whichever comes first. All new cars come with warranties. Some used cars, bought from dealerships, have them too.
What do warranties cover?
Cars are incredibly complicated bits of machinery. They have thousands of parts, many of them interdependent. And they’re expensive to fix. Things can happen to cars, from the relatively minor such as a sticking door handle to the major such as clutch or even engine failure. A warranty is designed to cover all these things for the period it lasts for.
Warranties do not cover what are known as wear and tear items. That is parts such as tyres, windscreen wipers and oil filters; the sort of parts you might expect to be changed when the car is serviced.
How do you preserve a warranty?
First thing’s first, you must have your car serviced according to the schedule in the user manual. You do NOT have to take it to a manufacturer-backed or approved servicing centre to keep the warranty valid. However, the work must be carried out to the manufacturer’s standard and according to the manufacturer’s schedule.
Any work should also be done using manufacturer original parts. You should also take care that any work done by a garage is detailed. If you have to make a warranty claim (below), the dealer you take it to will probably ask for this.
Can garages get out of warranty claims?
The European Union’s Block Exemption rules mean manufacturers have to allow cars to be serviced by independent garages. But the rules don’t mean they have to like it. No garage wants to carry out warranty work if it can help it. It means tying up a technician and space to carry out work it isn’t being paid for. If you’ve had your car serviced outside the dealer network, expect the manufacturer to want the tiniest details of any servicing that’s been done. If you haven’t documented it or perhaps the wrong oil has been used, they will claim you’ve invalidated the warranty.
How do you make a warranty claim?
If your car suffers a problem while the warranty is valid, get in touch with the dealer. It will establish whether the part is covered by the warranty and take you through the process of making a claim. In reality it should be fairly straightforward: you simply book the car in, the remedial work is carried out, you just don’t pay for it.
Should you stick with the manufacturer for servicing?
This depends on your attitude to risk. If you’re confident that an independent garage will do the service to the manufacturer’s specification and document everything it’s done, then you should be fine. If you’re not sure about your independent garage, probably best to either find one you can be sure of, or take it to the manufacturer’s workshop.