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Manufacturer’s Warranties, Car Insurance, Aftermarket Car Warranties - What do I have, What can I do?

Many customers have been calling us lately, asking us for clarifications and advice on the vehicle warranty they have and where they can go for service and/ or repairs.

It’s important to start off by mentioning that by law, since 1972, you can take your vehicle in for service at an automotive service center of your choosing (this means us or the dealership) without it voiding your manufacturer’s or aftermarket warranty. Furthermore, you can take your car in for repairs at a service station of your choosing without voiding your aftermarket warranty.

I write this because time and time again, sales departments at the dealership or used car sales establishments use deceptive language such that customers walk away thinking they have to go back to the place of purchase for service and/or repairs. This is not true, and the law is on your side. Please feel free to call us if you have any questions.

Ours cars are an essential part of our lives, and we depend greatly on them. The average age of a car on the road these days is nearing 12 years. This number has been increasing over the last 10 years because cars have become more reliable and longer lasting. The pandemic-induced economic recession is also having an impact on this number, as we see that many of our customers are deciding to keep their vehicle and maintaining it rather than buying a new one. Given the uncertainties for the near future, this approach makes sense.

Cars today are complex machines, requiring more high-tech work. When a problem arises with them, fixing them often starts with electronic and electrical diagnostics that can be costly and are but one step to actually getting the car repaired. Just like with a doctor, repairing a vehicle today requires a diagnosis (electrical diagnostics), and then the remedial actions (repair).

Many customers are finding that warranties, extended warranties, and third-party warranties are becoming a component of the overall cost of ownership of a vehicle, one that could easily be justified by just one Check Engine Light repair.

These days, getting coverage for your vehicle comes in various shapes and sizes. Ultimately, the type of coverage will depend on the age of your vehicle. To make it easier, I’ve put together a quick table to help you see what you will need to have, what is optional, and if it makes sense.

Insurance, like taxes, is an inevitable requirement. You must have it in place before driving. Usually, as the vehicle gets older, the cost goes down.

Manufacturer warranty is offered at the time of purchase, and actually comes from the Manufacturer itself. Just like any other warranty on any goods you may purchase, a car manufacturer will offer bumper-to-bumper, or drivetrain warranties or other types of warranties for a period of time from the time you buys the vehicle new from it.

Aftermarket Car Warranties are actually not warranties, but rather a service contract that can act as extending the manufacturer’s warranty. And the way these warranties work is similar to an insurance, whereby many people buy-in and hopefully fewer people will come to need to apply it to their vehicles. And like insurances, a great number will involve either a “deductible” or a cap on the repair amount they will cover. The companies offering these contracts are for-profit companies, where to maximize profits, you’d want to increase revenues (sell more plans) and minimize costs (repair payouts). It’s easy to see why choosing the right contract deserves a little bit of homework!

Over the years, we, as an independent automotive service center, have come to work with many of the different Aftermarket Car Warranties out there, and we know first-hand that not all are created equal. We will follow-up this article with another one that goes over those warranties, what to look for and what to be ready for.

In the meantime, if you have any questions on these topics, please feel free to reach out to me directly by calling the shop or emailing me at [email protected].

Karim Morsli - Owner

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