Whether you purchase a new or certified pre-owned vehicle, chances are you'll end up with a manufacturer's warranty on your car. Before you jump for joy, however, you should know that there could be strings attached.
For example, many vehicle owners are concerned that going to an outside mechanic for service (instead of the dealership) could void the warranty. Is this true? Are you stuck paying inflated prices for dealership service just so you can be sure the warranty remains valid? Here's what you should know.
Service Location Shouldn't Affect Warranty
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), your dealer should honor the warranty regardless of where you take your car for servicing. It is actually illegal for dealerships to deny warranty coverage because you take your car to a third-party mechanic for regular services like inspections, oil changes, tire rotations, and so on. You should even be able to do the service yourself, if you feel comfortable managing maintenance at home.
The Reality of the Situation
Okay, so legally, your warranty shouldn't be voided by visiting outside mechanics for service, but you need to read the fine print to make sure you don't accidentally void your warranty another way. For one thing, getting your car serviced at the dealership means they have a record of regular servicing, which is often a requirement for maintaining your warranty. If you go somewhere else or do maintenance yourself, you'd better keep meticulous records as proof, just in case your dealership tries to claim you missed services, thereby voiding the warranty.
Another potential problem is faulty repair work. What if you go to a trusted mechanic for repairs and adjustment or part replacement is done improperly, resulting in failure or further damage? If your dealer finds your mechanic at fault, they can claim the warranty is void, leaving you paying out-of-pocket for repairs.
What to Do
Like many vehicle owners, you may be understandably wary of taking your car to anyone but the dealer for servicing, but there are certain low-risk services you can go out-of-house for, so to speak, in order to save some cash. Common services like fluid and filter changes, tire rotations, brake pad replacement, and so on are simple enough that you really don't have to worry about them voiding your warranty.
That said, you may still want to visit the dealership for repair or replacement jobs (especially if you think they're covered under your warranty). With proper care and meticulous records, you should be able to visit your preferred mechanic without voiding your vehicle warranty.