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Vehicle Warranties

A vehicle warranty is any promise that the vehicle or repair services will meet a minimum standard of quality.

Become familiar with your rights under various warranties. Most consumer complaints come after the deal is made, and you may find that your warranty does not cover what you expected it would.

There are several types of warranties. The warranties you have will depend on the circumstances surrounding the purchase of your vehicle. New vehicles generally come with a manufacturer's warranty. Used vehicles may also have a manufacturer's warranty depending on whether there is still time left on the warranty that came with the purchase. By law certain used vehicles must come with a minimum power-train warranty. The law also provides some statutory warranties for new and used vehicles purchased from a dealer. Private sales of used vehicles are not covered by these types of warranties. As well, at the time of the sale of any new or used vehicle the seller may make statements about the vehicle that create an express warranty.

Minimum Power-Train Warranty

If you purchase a used vehicle that has less than 200,000 kilometres on it from a licensed dealer the dealer is required to warranty the power-train for 30 days or 1000 kilometres - whichever comes first. This warranty does not apply if...

  • you misused the vehicle during the warranty period
  • the problem that caused the failure was disclosed to you in writing before you signed the contract for sale and you acknowledged the disclosure in writing

Manufacturer's Warranties

Manufacturer's warranties are what the manufacturer has promised in writing that they will do to fix any defects or other problems with the vehicle. Often, they do not cover as much as you might expect. Always read and understand the warranty. Know what is covered and for how long. Consumers can be surprised and disappointed if they get a bill from the dealer for some things that were not covered "under warranty".

A manufacturer usually guarantees only to repair defects. No matter how much of a lemon the car may be, they usually promise in their warranties only to repair, not replace the automobile.

For example, if a part is defective, replacing it is considered a direct cost, and will be covered under the manufacturer's warranty during the warranty period. However, if your car has to be towed a few hundred miles, or if you suffer a personal injury as a result of the defect, it may be considered by the manufacturer to be an indirect result of the defective part. These expenses or losses are referred to as "consequential damages". Under their warranties, manufacturers generally say that they are responsible only for the direct expense of replacing the defective part. They often try to deny liability for consequential damages, even though those losses also arose because of the defective part.

Extended Warranties

For an additional fee paid by the consumer, a dealer or manufacturer may offer extended benefits in addition to their standard warranty. This can mean either that the warranty is good for a longer period of time, or that a wider range of defects will be covered. This is called an extended warranty. If you can afford the extra fee, extended warranties can be of benefit. However, as with the manufacturer's standard warranty, you need to read the documents carefully, and be sure of what you are getting.

Warranty Complaints

The Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP)

CAMVAP is designed to help consumers resolve disputes regarding manufacturer's defects and warranties without going to court. Under the plan an independent and neutral arbitrator makes a final and binding decision about the dispute.The program is free to consumers.

Always take your new vehicle back to the dealer for any warranty work. If the dealer is not prepared to fix the defect under the warranty, contact the manufacturer's area representative, if possible. If you and the dealer still cannot agree on what is to be done, get an independent examination done by another mechanic (for a price) and present the dealer with a written statement of what needs to be done. Write down any other complaints that you may have, and always keep a copy of these records for yourself.

It is important that you follow the manufacturer's conditions, such as getting regular service checks. If the warranty says these things must be done at a factory-authorized dealer, get them done there. Having routine maintenance done elsewhere may invalidate some of your warranty rights.

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