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Using Auto Warranty to Get Free Repairs You Are Entitled to Receive


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 the transfer.

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:

  1. The percentage of the repair cost that the dealer will assume, and the percentage you will have to assume
  2. The specific parts and systems that are covered by the warranty
  3. 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 of Columbia.

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.

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