A Word About Warranties

A Word About Warranties

To warrant means to give proof, so when you get a warranty on a car, it's to give proof that certain mechanical and body parts are sound or will be repaired if they're not. Of course there are time limits on this.

But a warranty allows you to be comfortable knowing that you won't be stuck with major repair bills soon after you buy a car. It's a nice safety feature, especially if you're buying a used car and don't have a mechanical bone in your body. If that's the case, have a good technician check the car over. Even then, get a warranty if you can.

A car typically comes with a limited warranty, which offers less than full coverage. Read it carefully to find out what the limits and deductible costs are.


New Car Warranties

Warranties are getting as competitive as car sales, which is good news for consumers. Most manufacturer's warranties cover repairs for three years or 36,000 miles, but warranties may vary from two years to four years and up to 70,000 miles.

To outdo each other, manufacturers are offering helpful extras like road assistance and towing. Some even throw in trip routing services and reimbursement for food, lodging and alternative transportation if your car breaks down while traveling.

While most warranties don't cover routine maintenance such as filter, oil and other fluid changes, a few do. This perk can save you hundreds of dollars over the warranty period.

Read the fine print to discover all the coverage you're receiving. It may be more than you think. You'll want to make sure you're not being charged for any of the extras mentioned above, however. If you are, check competitive services before signing up for them.


Used Car Warranty

Read the fine print. As Is is exactly that!!!.

The Buyer's Guide

The Federal Trade Commission and state law requires dealerships to display the buyer's guide on the car window. The buyer's guide is a double-sided form that the dealer fills out to tell you whether or not the vehicle comes with a warranty and, if so, what the warranty includes. If the "warranty" box is checked, the car is covered by a warranty required by the state's Used Car Warranty Law or another warranty offered by the dealer. If the "as is" box is checked, the buyer is responsible for paying for all repairs that the car requires.

Your Best Bet is a Reputable Dealer

The best protection against fraud is to work with a reputable dealer. Call the Better Business Bureau, ask opinions of friends and relatives and maybe even get names of former customers for reference.

What If a Part Breaks?

If the drive train falls off as you leave the lot or the manual transmission sticks within the time period of the warranty, you are entitled to have it fixed free of charge. You must report the problem to the dealer within the warranty period. Of course, to be fixed without charge it must be a part covered by the warranty.

But don't just pull into the first repair place you see and then think you can present the dealer with the bill. The dealer must repair or replace the part. If the dealer doesn't have a service facility, he or she will tell you where to take the car.

If it's inconvenient for you to go to the dealer for repairs if you live across the state, for example you may have the repairs done elsewhere with the dealer's consent.

Once the defective part is fixed, you'll receive another warranty, good for an additional warranty period for that particular part.


Refund? It's Dealer's Choice

It may be the dealer's choice to forego repairs if they're too expensive and refund the cost of the vehicle to you instead. In this case, the refund must include all the charges you paid, including any towing expense, minus a reasonable deduction for your use of the vehicle. The law does not give the car buyer the right to demand the full purchase price in compensation.

The "As Is" Disclaimer

If the "as is" box is checked on the buyer's guide, you have to pay for any and all car repairs once you buy the car. "As is" appears on about half of all used cars sold by dealers in the United States.

Research Recalls

To find out if a car model has ever been recalled due to a defect, call the U.S. Department of Transportation Auto Safety Hotline, (800) 424-9393. The department can send you information about any recalls.

So-Called Extended Warranties

If you are offered an extended warranty, be aware that, despite the name, it's really a service contract and may offer very limited coverage for the car. Read the contract carefully. If you want it, remember that since it's a high-profit item for a dealer, you may be able to negotiate the price.
Next Chapter: "Wheels to Rent"  or see What Is A Lemon?

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