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Can You Take a Car Under Warranty to Any Dealership?

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  February 20, 2024

If you’ve recently purchased a new car, you may wonder whether you have to take it to the dealership for service and maintenance to keep your warranty valid. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as straightforward as a simple “yes” or “no.” Our California lemon lawyers explain below.


Do You Need to Have Warranty Service Performed at the Dealership to Keep Your Warranty Valid?

The short answer is YES. All warranty service must be performed at an authorized warranty repair facility for the manufacturer. If you don’t, you run the risk of voiding your warranty as it concerns that area of your vehicle.

On the other hand, you don’t have to have maintenance performed at a dealership in order to maintain your warranty. The misconception that you have to have maintenance performed on your car at the dealership stems from the belief that only they have the expertise and knowledge to properly maintain your vehicle. However, the reality is you have the freedom to choose where to service your car as long as the work is done according to manufacturer specifications.  


Does the Type of “Warranty” Matter?


Factory Warranty

A factory warranty is provided by the vehicle manufacturer. It typically covers the entire vehicle bumper to bumper for a shorter period and then a drivetrain and engine warranty for a more extended period. As mentioned above, you aren’t obligated to only go to the dealership for service. Still, the manufacturer might have rules about repairs. It’s important that any maintenance follows the manufacturer’s guidelines.


Service Contract

Service contracts are often referred to as a warranty, but they’re not. A warranty promises a certain level of quality will be maintained for a designated period. It also confers rights on consumers who repeatedly return their vehicles for repairs.

A service contract, however, is quite different. It promises to repair your vehicle if it breaks down (usually applying a deductible) but does not guarantee quality for any period. They’re like insurance that applies after the expiration of the factory warranty. Third-party companies or dealerships usually offer them. Currently, in California, there are little to no rights conferred to the consumer for repeated repairs under a service contract. They vary in coverage and options, so you can choose what fits. 


What Could Void Your Warranty?

While you have the freedom to choose where to service your car, certain actions could void your warranty or lead to denied warranty claims, including, but not limited to, the following:


Altered Odometer

Tampering with your car’s odometer could void your warranty. Odometer fraud is considered a breach of warranty terms, and manufacturers and warranty providers take this issue seriously.


Salvage Title

If your car has been involved in a serious accident and has been given a salvage title, your warranty is likely to be voided. Salvage titles mean the car was deemed a total loss due to high repair costs.


Vehicle Misuse

Misusing your vehicle, such as using it for racing or overloading it beyond its capacity, can void your warranty. Stick to normal use to avoid excessive wear or damage.


Environmental Damage

Natural disasters like floods, fires, or earthquakes can void your warranty. These types of damage are typically out of your control and may not be covered under warranty.


Aftermarket Modifications

Adding aftermarket parts to your vehicle might void your warranty if they cause damage. Check your warranty and get advice before modifying your car.


How Do I Know If My Car Is Still Under Warranty?

  • Check your owner’s manual: Your owner’s manual will often include information about the duration and coverage of your vehicle’s warranty. It’s a good starting point to understand the terms and conditions of your warranty. 
  • Contact the manufacturer: If you’re unsure about your warranty status, you can contact the manufacturer directly. They can provide details using your car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). 
  • Review your warranty documents: If you have a copy of your warranty documents, read through them carefully to understand the coverage period and any specific requirements for maintaining your warranty. 
  • Consult a legal professional: If you’re having trouble with your warranty or doubt its validity, contact our California lemon lawyers. We can help you figure out what to do based on your situation.

Contact Our Trusted California Lemon Law Firm Today!

If you’re worried about your car’s warranty or suspect it might be a lemon, Norman Taylor & Associates is here for you. Our California lemon law firm specializes in protecting the rights of consumers who have purchased or leased defective vehicles.

Call 818-244-3905 or contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can help.

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