Want to imagine sheer, stark terror? Picture yourself with a nice, new, low-mileage car with years of payments left. One day you open an envelope and find a notice that you have voided your warranty. That’s right. You’re on the hook for every repair related to the thing you did that voided the warranty from here on.
What to Do If You Void Your Warranty:
The best advice? Don’t. It’s a world of hurt that you don’t need or want.
You already have voided your car’s warranty? Well, you probably didn’t mean to. Heck, you probably didn’t even know you did, since what will void your warranty is included in all those words in that thing in the glove box that nobody ever reads — you know, the warranty.
And that’s probably as good a defense as you have. “I didn’t realize …” You can try that on the regional office for your car’s manufacturer. You can try that as you go up the food chain with that company, trying to convince them that you’re not a rule-breaking hooligan, but a good customer who made an honest mistake and won’t do it again.
And after that, you need to hire a lawyer. Basic fact: Once your car’s manufacturer voids your warranty, there is very little incentive for them to reverse that decision. There’d be meetings and lawyers and precedents to be considered. So, if you’re serious about trying to get them to reinstate your warranty, you need to team up with an attorney who understands warranty law (specifically the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, which gives consumers some degree of protection), who can find the loopholes in the warranty and the mistakes the manufacturer might have made in handling your case. A sympathetic judge wouldn’t hurt, either.
But the fact is, even with expert counsel and a budget for that, the manufacturers have an enviable track record of defending their decisions to void warranties in court. So, we’re back to the best advice on what to do if you void your warranty: Don’t.
Before you make a modification, read the warranty. Find out if what you’re planning might actually cause a problem with your coverage. Get a second opinion. A good lawyer will charge you a lot less for that than they will representing you in court against the manufacturer.
And in the meantime, keep up those oil and filter changes. Cheap insurance that might mean one less warranty worry.
Check out all the oil filters available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on car care, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of MikeHagertyCars.com, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and losaltosonline.com. Previous outlets have included KFBK and KFBK.com in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and BBCCars.com.