What Voids a Car Warranty?
Under California’s Lemon Law, consumers are afforded certain legal rights when they purchase a new or used vehicle. If you bought a vehicle that has a defect that makes it fail to conform to its warranty, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement. Specifically, to assert your rights under the lemon law, the problem must be one that arose while the car was still covered under the original manufacturer’s warranty. However, it is first important to make sure that the defect is covered by the warranty and that there has not been a breach of warranty.
Just as a manufacturer must uphold their warranty obligations, a consumer must as well. This means that if you do something that is a breach of warranty, you may not be able to bring a lemon law claim should a problem arise. In these cases, you could also end up spending a substantial amount of money on repairs. It’s critical to be aware of what repairs are covered under warranty, and/or what can void the warranty so you can know what your legal rights are.
What is a Car Warranty?
A vehicle warranty is a manufacturer’s promise to cover the costs of replacement parts or repairs during a certain amount of time after you purchased the vehicle. A typical warranty covers the first three years after its delivery or 36,000 miles — whichever comes first. However, warranty terms can also vary by manufacturer. While a warranty should come with every new vehicle, many pre-owned vehicles may also be covered unless the original warranty has expired.
What Repairs Are Not Covered By the Warranty?
When a manufacturer provides a warranty, they guarantee that they will make repairs to the vehicle as long as certain conditions are met. But depending on the circumstances, a manufacturer may exclude repairs or void the warranty in its entirety.
Notably, here are a few things that could be considered a breach of warranty:
- Failure to properly use the vehicle — Misusing a vehicle for unlawful purposes such as racing, off-roading, or reckless driving can put a considerable amount of wear and tear on a car.
- Natural disasters — Fires, floods, earthquakes, and damage from other natural disasters are usually not covered by a vehicle’s warranty.
- Odometer tampering — The odometer is the way a vehicle’s use and age are measured. Tampering with it is not only illegal and fraudulent, but it will void a warranty.
- Poor vehicle maintenance — Warranties often require vehicle owners to keep up with their maintenance and conduct oil changes at certain times. You cannot blame the vehicle manufacturer for engine failure if you never had an oil change.
- Making certain aftermarket modifications — While many aftermarket modifications will not act as a breach of warranty, any defect that is caused by an aftermarket part is not covered by the warranty.
It’s important to understand that manufacturers will look for any excuse to argue that the defect is not covered by the warranty. It’s best to read your vehicle warranty carefully to know what it covers. While these terms and conditions are usually hidden in the fine print, they should clearly state what is not covered.
Is Adding a Lift Kit a Breach of Warranty?
A major concern for vehicle owners is whether installing aftermarket performance products, such as lift kits, could void their warranty. Significantly, various manufacturers may handle lift kits differently. For some makes and models, a lift kit will be a breach of warranty if a truck is lifted past two inches. A manufacturer may also require the lift kit to be installed by a dealer in order for the warranty not to be voided.
Still, with other manufacturers, a lift kit may void warranty coverage pertaining solely to that part of the vehicle. In these cases, any part of the vehicle unrelated to the lift kit may still be covered. It’s best to fully understand the terms of your warranty before installing an aftermarket part to avoid jeopardizing your rights under California’s Lemon Law.
What Vehicle Modifications and Repairs Would Not Void a Warranty?
There are a number of modifications you may be able to make to your vehicle without affecting the warranty. Whether your initial intention was to modify the car for performance gains or you decide to make aesthetic improvements later on, installing a new part doesn’t automatically preclude you from invoking your warranty if necessary. If the defect is unrelated to the aftermarket parts, then the repair is covered by the warranty. If the defect is caused by an aftermarket part, i.e., the lift kit damages the transmission and you are seeking a transmission repair under warranty, the repair is not covered under the warranty.
Just remember that the manufacturer provides a warranty on the vehicle as it left the factory. Any aftermarket parts installed after leaving the factory are not covered by that warranty. If you experience a defect, and that defect was caused by the aftermarket part, it will not be covered by the warranty.
Contact an Experienced Southern California Lemon Law Attorney
If you purchased a vehicle with a defect that did not conform to its warranty, you might have a lemon. It’s essential to have an attorney on your side who can fight for your rights and secure the monetary recovery that is rightfully yours. The California Lemon Law attorneys at the Ledbetter Law Firm offer experienced counsel and powerful advocacy to those who have suffered the inconvenience associated with buying a lemon car and strive to achieve positive results in their cases.
The attorneys at the Ledbetter Law Firm assist clients throughout Southern California who have purchased lemon vehicles in obtaining the refund or replacement they deserve from the manufacturer. With offices conveniently located in Torrance and San Diego, California, telephone and video conferencing options are also available. Call (310) 878-0067 to schedule a consultation with a California Lemon Law attorney today.