You might be planning on using a “set it and forget it” approach once you have your vehicle covered under an extended warranty. This is a big mistake you do not want to make.
There are things that you can do (or not do) that will void your car warranty without you even knowing it, but it’s easy to not make these mistakes once you know what they are!
1. Modifying or aftermarket-upgrading your vehicle
If you modify your vehicle from the factory specifications, the modified components will not be covered under warranty, and in many cases your warranty could be completely voided.
What are modifications? Things like:
- A suspension lift kit
- A Snow plow
- An after-market turbo or supercharger
- Oversized tires and wheels
- Custom audio or video upgrades
If your upgrades were factory-installed, make sure you make this known when you are buying your warranty. Sometimes, for an additional fee you can have the option to have modifications covered as long as they were installed by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
2. Having a Salvage Title
Sometimes if you buy a vehicle from an auction or a private party at an unusually low price, it will have what’s called a “salvage” title. This means that the vehicle was involved in a situation where it was damaged enough for the owner’s auto insurance company to declare the vehicle a total loss.
This could be damage from a car accident, theft, vandalism, or even a natural disaster. You face two obstacles when you buy a vehicle with a salvage title:
- They’re difficult and sometimes expensive to get auto insurance for. And in the rare instance that they can be insured, only liability (the bare minimum required by your state) coverage is available.
- They’re ineligible for extended warranty coverage. If you find a company that will sell you a warranty for a vehicle with a salvage title, run far far away! No good company that has a history of paying claims will knowingly offer such a thing.
If you forget to mention (or if you’re unaware) that your vehicle is a salvage title when you buy your warranty, you might not find out until it’s too late that your vehicle’s repairs won’t be covered. So when you buy a used car, make sure you’re not throwing money away on a lemon. And don’t take the previous owners’ or dealership’s word for it.
Always be 100% sure it has a clean title! You can do this easily and cheaply by getting a vehicle history report from AutoCheck.
3. Neglecting routine maintenance
You WILL void your warranty if you fail to do the routine maintenance on it. Rule of thumb: Keep your owner’s manual in a safe place. If you bought your vehicle used and it didn’t come with one, you can find one really easily online.
Most manufacturers have a downloadable or printable version on their website for free. Just search in the “owners” section of the site. Or, you can just google “free [insert your vehicle’s make and model here] owner’s manual”.
If you can’t find your vehicle’s owner’s manual for free online, you can always order one from Helm, Inc (www.helminc.com), your local dealership, or sometimes you can find one for sale on Ebay. It might cost you anywhere from $10-30 but it’s definitely worth having in order to make sure you’re taking proper care of your vehicle according to the manufacturer.
If you haven’t had your oil changed in ages and your engine burns to a crisp, or you’ve never taken it in for a tune up and your coolant system catches on fire, you’re going to be out of luck when it comes to having those repairs paid for.
Always follow your manufacturer’s recommendations for routine maintenance. If you have any doubt, just ask your mechanic to let you know when you’re supposed to come in again for a check-up. Some newer cars have a light that comes on that lets you know when your servicing is due. Otherwise, have your mechanic write it on one of those vinyl reminder stickers that goes on the inside driver’s side of your windshield.
4. Not keeping records of repairs
Powertrain warranties designed for high-mileage vehicles usually require you to keep an accurate record of your routine maintenance. This includes oil and filter changes and sometimes transmission servicing.
Aside from the fact that you should be doing this anyway to insure your car, truck, or SUV has a long and productive life, this also shows that any repairs that your vehicle needs aren’t due to neglect or from having work done by an unlicensed or unqualified mechanic.
If you don’t do this, then need a major repair down the line, and you don’t have anything that shows you’ve been taking good care of your vehicle, your claims could be denied. Make sure you always keep your maintenance receipts in a safe place and be sure they’re printed out on letterhead, and not handwritten.
5. Using your vehicle commercially
If you use your vehicle commercially and you did not disclose that information when you bought your warranty, you risk voiding your warranty and not having your claims paid.
Here are some examples of vehicles that are used commercially:
- Construction or work truck
- Police vehicle
- Courier or delivery vehicle
Sometimes you may have the option to pay an extra fee to cover the added risk of placing a warranty on a commercial vehicle. Commercial vehicles are riskier to cover since they experience much more strenuous use than the average daily commuter. Many warranties will not cover commercial vehicles at all.
If you use your car, truck, or SUV commercially, make sure you make that known when you’re buying your warranty. This way, you won’t run into any problems when the vehicle does need a repair.