Americans buy millions of vehicles each year of various makes and models, and is usually one of the biggest single expenses in a person’s life. However, thousands of those consumers will experience a troublesome if not completely harrowing experience when that vehicle ends up a lemon.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states roughly 150,000 vehicles sold every year in the United States contain unfixable, chronic problems. These “lemon” vehicles comes from every automotive manufacturer on the market, including Ford, Honda, Toyota, General Motors and many more. These problems can arise from any number of causes, ranging from faulty components or substandard materials to manufacturing problems or even simple human error. Regardless of what caused the defect, these issues can cost consumers thousands of dollars in missed work, tow costs and other incidental expenses.
Many consumers ask themselves “If my car is under warranty, can I take it to any dealership” for repairs. The manufacturer’s warranty included with a new vehicle purchase states the manufacturer will repair any problem that arises within the warranty period for free.
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However these warranties often require the consumer maintain a regular maintenance schedule (oil changes, tire rotations, tune ups, etc.) to remain valid. Dealerships will often try and convince you to bring the vehicle back to the dealership for these maintenance procedures, many times offering discounts on these services to lure you back.
Despite what the dealership tells you, you are legally allowed to seek professional vehicle maintenance elsewhere. If your car is under warranty, you can take it to any dealership. You do not have to take the vehicle back to the same dealership. However, the dealership may claim you have not held up your end of the warranty agreement if you do not keep detailed maintenance records. If you get an oil change or other similar routine maintenance done at a local mechanic instead of the dealership, save any and all receipts just in case. That way, if the manufacturer tries to claim a defect was caused by neglect or lack of maintenance, you have proof otherwise.
You can also take your car to a different dealership than the one from which you purchased your vehicle. For example, if you buy a brand-new Honda Civic and then move across town, you can take your vehicle to a closer Honda dealership and get service done there. Dealership service departments are paid handsomely by the manufacturer for warranty work, and as such won’t likely turn you away just because you purchased the vehicle at a different dealership owned by the same manufacturer. As long as your car is under warranty, you can take it to any dealership.
Taking your vehicle to the dealership for maintenance has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Large dealerships can afford up-to-date, expensive tools and equipment to repair your vehicle. They also have much easier access to spare parts thanks to their relationship with the manufacturer. Another advantages is the dealership’s ability to get spare parts faster and more easily than an independent shop.
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Dealership maintenance has downsides, however. Prices are typically higher at the dealership thanks to hefty markup. Service departments often make higher profit margins than the dealership itself. They are also known to recommend more unnecessary work to increase profitability.
Another question often asked by new car consumers is “if my car is under warranty, do I have to pay for a service?” Depending on the nature of said service, the answer is almost always no. If the service is covered under the terms of the warranty, that service will be covered by the dealership service center at no cost to you. A factory warranty covers problems caused by defective components, faulty materials or human manufacturing errors.
Generally, factory warranties don’t cover regular service such as new tires or oil changes, however some dealerships may through those in as a perk of the sale contract. You should always check the warranty terms as well as the sale contract before signing anything, and certainly before taking the vehicle in for service. Generally however, a consumer can rest assured if their car is under warranty, they don’t have to pay for service – as long as that service is covered by the warranty.
The attorneys at Allen Stewart P.C. have decades of experience fighting on behalf of consumers wronged by the neglect of automotive manufacturers. If you bought a new vehicle that is defective, they will make sure the manufacturer upholds their end of the warranty and makes you whole and get you the compensation you deserve. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act makes sure you never pay out of pocket for consulting with an attorney for a lemon law claim, so don’t wait; contact Allen Stewart P.C. today. The sooner you call, the sooner you get back on the road.