Do I have to use the dealer for repairs and maintenance to keep my warranty in effect?
An independent mechanic, a retail chain shop, or even you yourself can do routine maintenance and repairs on your vehicle. In fact, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which is enforced by the FTC, makes it illegal for manufacturers or dealers to claim that your warranty is void or to deny coverage under your warranty simply because someone other than the dealer did the work. The manufacturer or dealer can, however, require consumers to use select repair facilities if the repair services are provided to consumers free of charge under the warranty.
That said, there may be certain situations where a repair may not be covered. For example, if you or your mechanic replaced a belt improperly and your engine is damaged as a result, your manufacturer or dealer may deny responsibility for fixing the engine under the warranty. However, according to the FTC, the manufacturer or dealer must be able to demonstrate that it was the improper belt replacement — rather than some other defect — that caused the damage to your engine. The warranty would still be in effect for other parts of your car.
Will using ‘aftermarket’ or recycled parts void my warranty?
An ‘aftermarket’ part is a part made by a company other than the vehicle manufacturer or the original equipment manufacturer. A ‘recycled’ part is a part that was made for and installed in a new vehicle by the manufacturer or the original equipment manufacturer, and later removed from the vehicle and made available for resale or reuse. Simply using an aftermarket or recycled part does not void your warranty. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act makes it illegal for companies to void your warranty or deny coverage under the warranty simply because you used an aftermarket or recycled part. The manufacturer or dealer can, however, require consumers to use select parts if those parts are provided to consumers free of charge under the warranty.
Still, if it turns out that the aftermarket or recycled part was itself defective or wasn’t installed correctly, and it causes damage to another part that is covered under the warranty, the manufacturer or dealer has the right to deny coverage for that part and charge you for any repairs. The FTC says the manufacturer or dealer must show that the aftermarket or recycled part caused the need for repairs before denying warranty coverage.
A tune-up focuses on keeping the engine running at the best level possible. For example, replacing spark plugs includes new spark plug wires to ensure the vehicle ignites gasoline in the combustion chamber properly. A new fuel filter helps keep contaminants out of the engine. Replacing belts and hoses keeps connected parts running in tune with one another for optimum performance. A new air filter improves engine efficiency, while proper fluid levels prevent wear and overheating in the engine.
A vehicle’s tune-up includes preventive maintenance, performance analysis and adjustment. Regular tune-ups are prescribed in a vehicle’s manual, usually when the spark plugs need to be replaced. The normal interval is 30,000 miles, or every two to three years. Otherwise, a tune-up may happen whenever a driveability problem occurs.
Problems solved with a complete tune-up include hard starting, stalling, hesitation, misfiring, bad fuel economy and lack of power. Many cars with onboard computer systems obviate some traditional adjustments because the computer can alter the vehicle’s engine performance.