Using Auto Warranty to Get Free Repairs You Are Entitled to Receive
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS WHEN
BUYING A USED CAR
When you shop for a car at the used car department of a new car dealer
or at an independent used car dealer's establishment, look for the buyer's
guide sticker that is posted on the window of the car. This sticker, which
is required by the Federal Trade Commission, will inform you whether the
car is being sold with a carryover new car warranty, with a warranty issued
by the used car dealer, with an implied warranty, or "as is."
Carryover New Car Warranty. If any of the new car warranties are still
in effect and can be transferred to a buyer, ask how much it will cost.
If you are lucky, the manufacturer or the dealer may cover the cost of
Note: Don't forget that the emissions system and supplemental inflatable
restraint system warranties are automatically transferred at no cost.
Used Car Dealer Warranty. When a dealer offers a written warranty on a
car, it must be stipulated what systems or components the warranty covers
and whether coverage is full or limited.
A full warranty will
provide the following terms and conditions:
- Warranty service will be provided
to whoever owns the vehicle during the warranty period.
- Warranty service will be provided
free of charge. At your choice, the dealer will provide either a replacement
or a full refund if the dealer isn't able to repair the system or
component covered by the warranty after a reasonable number of attempts.
- Warranty service is provided
as a precondition for receiving service and doesn't require you to do
anything to receive service except to notify the dealer.
If any of these items is not included in the written warranty, then it
is not a full warranty; it is a limited warranty.
Most used car dealer warranties are limited in scope, which means that
there are some costs and responsibilities the buyer has to assume. When
a warranty is limited in scope, according to law, the dealer must provide
the following information on the buyer's guide sticker:
- The percentage of the repair
cost that the dealer will assume, and the percentage you will have to
- The specific parts and systems
that are covered by the warranty
- The duration of the warranty
for each part and system that is covered by the warranty.
Implied Warranty. An implied warranty is neither written
nor spoken. It is based on the principle that a seller of a car will stand
behind the product. Implied warranties are in effect in every state and
come with the purchase of a used car unless the dealer states in writing
that implied warranties do not exist—for example, by using such
phrases as "as is" or "sold with all faults."
The so-called "warranty of
merchantability" is the most common type of implied warranty. It
refers to the fact that the seller promises the product will do what it
is supposed to do. In the case of a car, the implied warranty of merchantability
promises that the car will run. If it doesn't run, the dealer is obliged
by law to fix it free of charge.
The other type of implied warranty
is called the "warranty of purpose," meaning the product will
fulfill the purpose for which it is being sold. For instance, if you buy
a pickup truck with the understanding that the truck will haul no less
than a specific amount of cargo, then the truck must be able to do that
or the dealer can be required to repair the truck—for example, by
installing overload shock absorbers and new springs. Don't rely on a dealer's
word that the vehicle will fulfill its purpose. Get every claim in writing.
As Is (Without a Warranty). If the buyer's guide sticker
on a used car indicates "as is," it means that there aren't
any express or implied warranties that come with the vehicle. Therefore,
the dealer can't be held responsible for making any repairs or modifications.
Some states do not permit "as-is" sales of used cars. They are
Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi,
New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia—also the District
Used cars sold by private
parties are not subject to any law and are not covered by any
implied warranties demanded by the state. You are on your own unless the
party selling the car stipulates in writing that he or she will stand
behind the car and, if so, to what
extent and for how long. However, it may be possible to transfer to you
any new car warranties that are still in effect. To find out if this is
possible, ask to see the warranties, get in touch with the manufacturer,
or call a dealer who sells vehicles of the same make.
Note: Don't forget that
the emissions system and air bag system warranties are automatically
transferred at no cost.