Automotive Warranty Blues | Oklahoma Car Dealer Fraud Attorneys

Warranty Blues

Posted February 9, 2015

An automotive warranty is a contract between the purchaser and the vehicle manufacturer and its agents obligating them to make any replacements or repairs within the scope of the warranty provided the purchaser maintains the vehicle properly according to the contractual terms and provisions. In the case of this warranty, the only known fact is that the dealer, an agent of the manufacturer, has refused to honor it.

The warranty is presumably enforceable unless certain circumstances make the dealership’s refusal to honor it legally defensible:

  • Warranty Terms and Provisions: If the warranty expressly covers only specified repairs, the manufacturer may refuse to authorize the dealer to do warranty work for any repair not so specified. The dealer must file a claim with the manufacturer to be paid for work under warranty. If the manufacturer does not honor but denies the claim, there is no payment for the dealer.
  • Vehicle Damage: A salvage title or declaration of total loss following a severe collision voids the entire warranty. There is no risk of any void warranty with certified pre-owned vehicles, but a vehicle history report may be a wise precaution in purchases of late-model used cars from individuals or independent used car dealers.
  • Vehicle Misuse: A term subject to broad interpretation can mean racing or competition of any type, overloading, off-roading, or anything outside normal operation. Some automakers void entire warranties for these deviations, and the decision is typically discretionary with the burden of proof on the claimant to show abuse of discretion.
  • Natural Disaster: If a fire, flood, earthquake, or any other natural disaster damages the vehicle, the manufacturer may refuse to honor and authorize work under the warranty.
  • Odometer Disturbance: If the dealer has reason to believe there has been a disconnection of the vehicle’s odometer, this belief is usually grounds for a voided warranty because the dealer can say there is no way to determine the vehicle’s exact mileage.
  • Abuse and Neglect: Some drivers are so neglectful of proper maintenance that for years they failed to change the engine oil. If they fail to bring their vehicles in for scheduled maintenance service, their warranties lapse and their dealers are not obligated to repair any engine damage.
  • Aftermarket Parts or Vehicle Modifications: Although many dealers may say otherwise, an aftermarket part or minor vehicle modification alone cannot void a warranty. Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, United States Code Title 15 Sections 2301 et sequitur, a dealer must prove that aftermarket or modifying equipment caused the need for repair before denying warranty coverage. In unclear cases, the dealer may charge the warranty claimant to diagnose the vehicle. If installation of the aftermarket part was incorrect or the modification caused an original component to fail, the dealer may void the warranty coverage for that job.

Unless at least one of these circumstances is present, the purchaser should be able to enforce contractual rights under the warranty against the dealership. To avoid warranty disputes, purchasers should read warranty documentation thoroughly and seek counsel on any points or terms they do not understand clearly.

If your car dealership refuses to honor your cars warranty you should seek legal counsel. Call (405) 272-0303 or contact us online today!