Worried About Warranties: Do You Need To Rely On Dealerships To Service Your Car?

Buying a brand-spankin’, shiny new car is a thrilling experience. All of a sudden, you’re the proud owner of a vehicle that nobody else has ever possessed; there are no mysterious stains, no odd smells, and no frustrating title transfers to worry about. There is, however, a warranty.

Say you’ve just driven off the lot with a newly purchased Ford Focus. Ford is currently considered America’s most valuable car brand, so congratulations, you’ve made an excellent choice! Your warranty covers three-years or 36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper damage, and the same period (or longer) for power-train damage. At 3,000 miles, it’s time to get your oil changed as part of a routine maintenance check. Your Ford service center is an inconvenient distance away, thereby making it impractical to seek out, and you’ve found a mechanic that can fix the problem much closer to home. Will employing his handiwork effect or void your warranty?

The answer is not so simple. While automakers and dealerships are not allowed to make you perform regular maintenance at a dealership for a new-car warranty to remain valid, you must save your receipts to prove that the work was performed. Otherwise, your Ford service center may not reimburse you for the cost.

Additionally, there are risks involved with going outside of your Ford dealers: if you have regular maintenance performed at an independent shop and your tech or mechanic makes an error that causes damage to one of your vehicle’s components (like an oil change where the shop forgets to actually put new oil in, thereby destroying your engine), your warranty would be legally voided. You would be expected to pay for the repairs and any replacement parts (which can easily stack up when it comes to an engine) yourself. If you wanted to file a claim, it would be with the shop that made the error, not the Ford repair service center.

In a nutshell, the choice is up to you. You’re free to take your car wherever you’d like to be serviced so long as you remember to document the transaction and are able to provide proof to the original dealer. However, you take your life — and your wallet — into your own hands if you venture outside dealership walls.


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