Using Auto Warranty to Get Free Repairs You Are Entitled to Receive
RESOLVING WARRANTY DISPUTES
Each new car warranty is a contract between the buyer and the manufacturer.
As with most legal agreements, it contains "ifs, ands, and buts."
For example, if the car owner violates the terms of the warranty by not
doing something called for, such as not changing the engine oil, the contract
may become null and void should the engine seize. On the other hand, if
the car owner believes the manufacturer has violated the terms of the
warranty by not, for
instance, rendering a free repair due the owner, then the owner has several
avenues to seek recourse.
You can take the manufacturer
to court, but this is a serious course of action and is often not necessary.
It is also expensive, because you can lose the case and have to pay all
legal fees. If you win the case, however, then the manufacturer will have
to pay to fix the car, all legal fees, and the cost of repairing any damage
the vehicle suffered as a result of the manufacturer's not repairing it
There are two less-drastic, inexpensive,
and usually productive courses of action to follow before deciding to
pursue legal action:
using the customer arbitration program; or following a state warranty
enforcement law procedure, which is commonly referred to as a lemon law.
Most states have now adopted lemon laws.
Each of these programs has a different
purpose. The purpose of customer arbitration programs is to mediate warranty
The purpose of lemon laws is to provide relief for customers whose cars
cannot be repaired after several attempts. The exact number varies from
state to state, but three is the norm.
WHAT TO DO FIRST
Most disputes over who is responsible for paying the cost of a repair
can be settled amicably by following this procedure:
- If you and a dealership service
representative differ as to who is responsible for paying for a repair,
take the matter up with the owner of the dealership or with someone
who had been authorized to act in the owner's behest, such as the new
car sales manager.
- If the owner of the dealership
or his or her representative agrees with the service representative
that you are responsible for payment and the repair has already been
made, write a check or use a credit card for the repair so you have
documentation. Keep a record of the transaction, including a written
explanation of why your claim was denied.
- Request that a meeting be set
up with a field representative of the manufacturer. State your case.
If the manufacturer's field representative comes down on the side of
the dealership and refutes your claim, or if he or she offers a partial
payment that isn't to your liking, send a certified letter (return receipt
requested) to the Customer Relations Department of the manufacturer
at the address of the manufacturer's district office or headquarters.
Send copies of all the documentation—from the time you voiced
your complaint to the service representative up to the present. You
will need these documents if you have to take the matter to a customer
or state arbitration panel or to court.
- If contacting the manufacturer's
district office or headquarters doesn't settle the matter, it is time
to begin the arbitration process.