Reader has a question about vehicle warranties

Routine oil changes are needed and necessary. They can be performed by any shop or dealer as long at the specified oil and filter are used. James Halderman photo
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Routine oil changes are needed and necessary. They can be performed by any shop or dealer as long at the specified oil and filter are used. James Halderman photo

Wheels:

R.J. writes by email: “I opened my email today, found an email from a local dealership saying in order to not void my car’s warranty, I must take it to them. So, I called them to say sorry, FTC says I do not need to take my car to them for any service. Oh, the female I was talking to told me, oh no sir, the FTC is wrong, you must do it with us.' I said, ‘No, as long as I use the correct oil and filter, any shop can change it.’ So, what do you suggest I do, just say the heck with them or report it to the FTC?”

Halderman:

Thanks for writing. You are correct; and the dealership personnel is not. According to the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, the service operations and parts used do not need to be performed by the authorized dealer to maintain the warranty on the vehicle. If that is the requirement, then the service work has to be provided for free, which is done by several, usually European brands, vehicle manufacturers.

They include the routine service during the warranty period because they usually require vehicle-specific, expensive oil and they want to be sure that the vehicle is properly serviced to protect their engines during the warranty period.

Therefore, if the dealer does not offer to provide the service for free, then you can take it to any service facility you wish, but they should use oil that meets the factory specifications.

If there is a warranty issue, it is up to the vehicle manufacturer to determine that it was the use of the oil or the oil filter that was not a factory part and caused the failure. Proving that would be difficult in most cases, in my opinion.

What to do? That is up to you, but if the statement was made in writing that your warranty will be canceled unless you have the oil changed at the dealer, I would forward it to the state attorney general and let that office handle it.

Have an automotive question? Get a straight answer by writing to Jim at jim@jameshalderman.com.

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