To preserve car warranty how do I handle maintenance?
November 15, 2007 9:24 AM   Subscribe

To preserve car warranty how do I handle maintenance?

I recently bought a slightly used car that still has a lot of time/miles left on the manufacturers warranty. My question is this: Do I need to use the dealers service department for all the regular service listed in the manual or can I use an independent mechanic shop that I trust and have used for years? Again the goal being to have my maintenance done in such a way to ensure that if I need warranty work done I will still be covered.

I know if I use the dealer I'd be ok but it's quite a ways away and I've never used them. I really like my regular mechanic as they're close by and I totally trust them.

Thanks for any advice!
posted by covert7 to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This depends entirely on the warranty and/or your location.

Get hold of the warranty and read it all from cover to cover. It will give you the information you need in there (including any requirement to use genuine parts even if the work is completed by other than a dealership).
posted by Brockles at 9:40 AM on November 15, 2007

probably the most important thing about keeping your warranty: change your oil when your supposed to and keep the receipts. doesnt matter where you get the oil change from. warranty won't cover a car that doesn't have proof of changing the oil regularly.
posted by kowboy at 9:43 AM on November 15, 2007

It is illegal in the US to require routine maintenance be performed by the dealer. Any qualified (ase certified) shop should fine.
posted by notsnot at 10:04 AM on November 15, 2007

Unless the maintenance is free. In that case (and ONLY that case), they can legally deny warranty claims due to work being done elsewhere.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:08 AM on November 15, 2007

What notsnot said.

Just be sure to keep all receipts for maintenance done by anyone other than the dealer. Including yourself. That way, if you DO have to incur some warranty work, you can prove you kept up the regular maintenance.

The only exception to this might be any regular manufacturer-required inspections.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:00 AM on November 15, 2007

Look up the maintenance schedule in the owners manual. If you don't have a manual, get one. Go over the maintenance schedule with your mechanic to determine what services he can adequately do, and have him do them. If there is any doubt, go to the dealer.

Here is an example: I own a Hyundai with an automatic transmission. I have gone to several repair shops and inquired about transmission flushes. They all claim to use a "universal fluid" in their flushes that can be used on all cars. I ask them if they are aware of SP-III (the fluid type used on Hyundais, Kias and Mitsubishis). Every non-Hyundai shop I have asked has responded with a blank stare, or a claim that their universal fluid is, well, universal. I've asked for documentation showing that it meets SP-III specs. Not one has been able to produce any.

The point is this: You are legally allowed to use any shop you want (or even do the work yourself) and the warranty is preserved, as long as the maintenance is done properly and all the required parts and supplies (such as SP-III fluid) are used. But..... if the incorrect stuff is used and it leads to a failure (say, using non-SP-III results in a transmission failure), you can't possibly expect the manufacturer to warrant the transmission when the maintenance wasn't done right.

So be aware of that.

I would recommend looking for owner/fan forums for your car. If it is a Chevy Cobalt, for instance, try searching for "Cobalt forum". You can find online resources that can tip you in on the in's and out's of your particular car so you can make sure the maintenance is done right.

It doesn't matter who does the maintenance; if it is done properly, your warranty will apply. It's your responsibility as an owner to make sure it is done right, and it is very much to your advantage to make sure you document all work done on the car.
posted by Doohickie at 3:00 PM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

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