Can an Independent Auto Mechanic Void a Vehicle’s Factory Warranty?
The short answer is, probably not!
The world of warranties is a confusing place. There’s often a lot of paperwork involved, a lot of money on the line, and a lot of decisions to be made. Simply put, Consumer Reports defines a warranty as something that is put in place “to ensure consumers that the product performs as promised, with the manufacturer taking responsibility for problems during a predetermined period.” All new vehicles come with a limited warranty of a minimum of three years, with some dealerships offering upwards of 5 and 10 year limited factory warranties.
There are plenty of things that can void your car’s factory warranty, which is enough to put a lot of people on edge. The biggest question is usually centered around, “Where can I get my car serviced that won’t affect my vehicle’s warranty?” There is a misconception out that in order to maintain your factory warranty, the only place you can get your car serviced is at the authorized dealership who sold it to you. In other words, many people assume the highway sign of the building must match what’s on their bumper, so to speak.
This line of thinking is very limiting, and can get expensive fast! But the good news is that dealerships do not have a monopoly of the automotive industry, and to make it official, the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, in which Searles is a member, has this to say on the matter: “Making your own choice of Automotive Service Professional for regular servicing and maintenance does not mean compromising your vehicle warranty.”
In other words, when it comes to aftermarket service and warranty, you have a choice!
This notice serves as a good reminder to consumers who are driving a vehicle still under factory or extended warranty that they are not locked into the dealership for life.
Here’s how it works:
Across Canada, each province has Automotive Service Professionals who are qualified to service any vehicle make and model. Car owners can choose any of these professionals to perform regular maintenance on their vehicle, and there is no risk of the work voiding any warranties offered in Canada. All you have to do before proceeding to have an independent auto mechanic perform work on your warrantied vehicle is to make sure they are certified Automotive Service Professionals.
The Automotive Industries Association of Canada says that to maintain the integrity of your vehicle’s warranty, just follow its terms and properly document the maintenance schedule outlined in the owner manual or your extended warranty coverage contract.
So, now that we’re all reminded that independent shops who are Automotive Service Professional certified, such as Searles, are able to carry out work on you vehicle without voiding a warranty, let’s take a look at what CAN void your vehicle’s warranty.
- Street Racing or Extreme Off-roading – Warranties are in place to protect consumers from such things like car parts that break down or malfunction too soon, and don’t make it past their prime with regular use. Any extreme use, such as street racing and off-roading can void most warranties.
- After-market Modifications – Upgrading your vehicle’s rims, ripping out a stock stereo system, or going with aftermarket exhaust is risky business is you are looking to keep your car’s factory warranty in-tact. But if you must have those tinted windows, make sure to review your warranty package to see how this will affect things going forward. When it’s time to make a warranty claim, you might be denied coverage if the dealership can prove that an aftermarket part or modification necessitated the repair in question.
- Car Detailing – There are a lot of car wash businesses popping up around the province, but many of them don’t fall under the Automotive Service Professionals category, and if things go wrong, your car’s paint job might end up damaged beyond repair by your factory warranty. The touchless car washes are less risky, but if this is a concern, think twice about your approach to keeping a shiny car. Again, read your policy to be clear.
- DIY Projects – It’s tempting to tinker with your vehicle in order to kill an afternoon and save a few bucks, and maybe even learn a few things along the way, but the majority of folks don’t fall under the Automotive Service Professional category and should best avoid DIY car repairs if their vehicles are still under warranty. For minor repairs, you might be safe, such as changing a tire or replacing a light bulb but don’t take something apart if you’re not 100% confident in your abilities.
So, there you have it, you have more choices than you might have realized when it comes to maintaining your vehicle’s service records.
If you are looking to make the switch from dealership to independent automotive mechanics, we invite you to come on down to Searles, meet the team, and check out what others are saying about us.