Is your Subaru still under warranty (or any other vehicle for that matter)? Have you been lead
to believe that your car must be worked on at the dealer while it is under
warranty? If so, then read on and I’ll educate you on some of the often
mis-understood facts about new car warranties.
When you purchase a new vehicle it comes with a factory backed warranty. In Subaru’s case
it has a 3 year 36000 mile bumper to bumper warranty, a 5 year 60000 mile power
train warranty, a 5 year rust perforation warranty, and a lifetime seatbelt
Sounds great so far, right? Now, I realize there are extended warranties that can be purchased
beyond what the manufacturer will offer but I am only focusing on a new car
warranty in this blog. Whether you own a Subaru, Kia, Ford, etc. it’s good information to be armed with.
In 1975, one of our late, great Senators of Washington State, Warren G. Magnuson, co-sponsored a
bill aimed at protecting consumers from deceptive business practices and
improving competition among business. it was a win,win for consumers. The “Magnuson-Moss Warranty
Act” mandated that a written warranty on any consumer product that costs
more than $5 must completely and conspicuously disclose, in easily understood
words, the terms and conditions of the warranty.
One key aspect of the bill prohibits “Tie-in Sales” within a warranty. An example would be:
In order to keep your new Widget Brand Lawn Mower warranty in effect you must use only
Widget brand air filters and spark plugs in your mower.
Now, let’s apply this to your Subaru. When you purchase your Subaru there is a schedule of
required maintenance. The manufacturer is within their right to require
that specific service, maintenance and inspections be performed at specific
times and mileage to maintain the vehicles warranty. An example of an illegal
practice would be:
Subaru requires the use of a Genuine Subaru oil filter at each oil change performed
during the first 60000 miles of your vehicles life.
In contrast: Here’s what is actually stated by Subaru in the warranty
booklet regarding your responsibility to maintain the factory
“It is your responsibility to have all scheduled inspection and maintenance services
performed at the times and mileages recommended at the back of this Booklet and
to retain proof that inspection and maintenance services are performed when
recommended. One method of proof is for you to have each maintenance service
record contained in this Booklet validated at the proper time or mileage by the
Authorized SUBARU Dealer or other service facility performing the service. You are also responsible for
checking such items as fluid levels and tire pressures regularly.”
Do you notice how they state “other service facility”? In summary, by law, Subaru or any
other car maker cannot stipulate that service and maintenance must be perfomed
at a dealer in order to maintain the warranty status of the vehicle. As a matter
of fact, it not only gives you the option to shop for your oil changes, brakes,
30k services elsewhere but if you’re qualified, you can even perform the
scheduled maintenance yourself. I must point out that if you are a DIY person,
you will want to keep detailed receipts of the parts you purchased and detailed
notes with time and mileage of when you performed your services.
Another aspect of this law protects the consumer if a dealer denies a warranty repair due to an
aftermarket part. It requires the dealer prove that a part or service done
outside of the dealership caused or contributed to the damage or failure of the
otherwise warrantable component. For instance, let’s say you installed
aftermarket wiper blades on your car and then the wiper motor went out a month
later. If a dealer were to tell you that they must deny warranty on the
windshield wiper motor because of the aftermarket blades, they would also have
to prove that those wipers or improper installation thereof caused the failure
of the wiper motor.
Joe brought his car in to the dealer because he heard a strange knocking noise from his engine.
Upon diagnosis the dealer found that the engine had a major internal failure.
The car was 2 years old and had 23,000 miles on it. The dealer had no service
history on file and asked Joe to provide records of his required maintenance.
Joe had no documentation. The dealer denied the warranty engine repair because
it was their belief that lack of oil changes caused the internal damage to the
engine. (probably a fair assessment)NOTE: Due to economic pressures, dealers
have been requiring more documentation of service than ever before so keep your
conditioning stopped working
My engine is
I hear a
clicking noise in reverse
My car runs
rough first thing in the morning
The ABS Warning
light stays illuminated
I recieved a
All tune up type
services (7.5k 15k, 30k, 45k, 60k etc)
Brakes (wear and tear related)
I am a strong believer in consumer choice and hope this will give you a better understanding
of your rights with any vehicle you ever purchase. I want to make sure it’s
understood that I am not dealer bashing. There are still stellar performing
dealers out there that can be great option for a consumer. I just to make sure
whatever your decision is it’s an informed one!
July 4th, 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act was signed into law by President Ford.