Don't let the dealer sweep your warranty claim under the rug just because someone else does your oil changes

Guaranteed Warranty Seal / Making the Most of Your Auto Warranty
Image: NCCC
July 05, 2017

Can a dealer void your car's warranty if you have someone else do routine maintenance on the vehicle? The answer is no, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants to make sure all consumers know it.

Under federal law, it is illegal for manufacturers or dealers to refuse to honor your vehicle warranty or to deny warranty repairs simply because someone other than the dealer did work on the car. Dealers must be able to demonstrate that improper repairs or improper maintenance caused damage to the component that they refuse to cover.

For example, if an independent mechanic put the wrong type of oil into your car and the dealer can prove that the oil was directly responsible for an engine failure, they can deny your claim. If they can't prove it, they're not supposed to deny your claim, but might do it anyway. It's at that point where you should seek legal help, whether it's to get the dealer to honor the warranty or if it's to get your oil change shop to cover the damages.

Regardless, if your warranty has been 'invalidated' for one part, your warranty remains in effect for the rest of the car. Under the same example, you can't be denied warranty coverage for a future failure of a headlight just because someone used the wrong type of oil in the engine.

Other Helpful Tips Include:

  • Actually read the warranty that came with the car or check the "Owners" section of the manufacturer's website for warranty details. This documentation is a great first step to see what might and might not be covered under your warranty.
  • Know when the warranty period ends and get any problems that arise checked out beforehand. Too many people wait to have their problems fixed until just after the warranty expires and find themselves footing the entire bill.
  • Service the car at regular intervals, following the manufacturer's recommended service schedule. You don't have to provide proof that service was done to obtain warranty coverage, but having this proof can make getting warranty repairs a little easier.
  • Keep all service records and receipts, regardless of who performs the service. This includes oil changes, tire rotations, belt replacement, new brake pads, and inspections. These receipts can be used to prove that the vehicle was properly maintained. If you do your own maintenance, keep your receipt for the parts.

if you believe your warranty claim has been denied unfairly, speak to a supervisor at the dealership. If that doesn't help, go to the manufacturer or another dealer. But keep in mind that another dealer or manufacturer can see all the notes the first dealer made about your car.

You can also file a complaint with the North Carolina Attorney General's Office: Division of Consumer Protection or the Federal Trade Commission.

Don't hold out any hope for getting resolution from the Better Business Bureau. The BBB is powerless to resolve consumer complaints and is an organization that gets its funding from business memberships.