New Car Maintenance

Maintaining New Cars

Competition in a market economy is a good thing. It’s good for business; but it’s even better for consumers. This axiom is especially true as it relates to the automobile industry where car makers are consistently building better (read: more reliable) cars with each consecutive model. This competition also has led to improvements in lubricants and metallurgy, which are two key factors as to why maintenance intervals on many cars, trucks and SUVs have been extended. Unfortunately this has also led to the mistaken belief by customers that they need only to change the oil and rotate the tires on their late model car to keep it going for 100,000+ miles. The purpose of this article is to correct this misconception.

Mechanics working under the hood of a carAs good as cars are these days, it is still essential for every automobile owner to closely follow the scheduled maintenance intervals set forth by the manufacturer. The people who design these vehicles are the most competent engineers in the industry and know how best to prolong the life of the engine and drive train. So, does this mean that you have to take your car to the dealer for service in order to maintain its warranty? After all, even the most educated and savvy consumers believe that owners are required to bring their vehicle to the dealer for maintenance while it’s under warranty. The answer may surprise many of you – No.

Passed by Congress in 1975, the Moss-Magnuson Warranty Act (USC, Title 15, Chapter 50, Sections 2301-2312) assures customers they have the right to have any preventative maintenance performed at the facility of their choice despite the vehicle still being covered by a new car warranty, even if it is not offered for free. This law means that owners can have work completed at reputable independent shops like CoHo Auto without jeopardizing their warranty. Not too surprisingly, dealers rarely, if ever, offer this information to customers.

Congress essentially wanted to promote competition on the basis of warranty coverage alone. By making sure that consumers can get warranty-related information, the Act has forced dealers to compete with independent companies, which, in the long run, has made it much easier for consumers to resolve warranty coverage issues. This is free enterprise at its best and is what our legislators envisioned when they passed this law.

New car maintenance.In this regard, information is not just held by dealers now, but accessible to reputable independent shops as well. The best of these shops even have access to the same recommended scheduled maintenance requirements as the dealers and set forth by vehicle manufacture, as well as access to technical service bulletins and factory recalls. So regardless if its BMW’s Inspection I and II services, Mercedes Benz’s A-Service and BService, or the ubiquitous 12,000/24,000/36,000/etc or 30,000/60,000/90,000/etc services on American, Asian, and other European car makers, autonomous shops can complete all the work recommended by the manufacturer.
But how does the Moss-Magnuson Warranty Act apply to modified cars? Legally, a manufacturer, and by extension a dealer, cannot void the warranty on a vehicle if an aftermarket part was installed unless it can prove that the part caused or contributed to the failure. The burden of proof is with the dealer or manufacturer to explicitly prove that the aftermarket part caused the failure. Therefore and as it relates to the installation of an aftermarket part and/or ECU upgrade, for example, customers should do their due diligence by researching and working with shops that specialize in doing this work and with a proven history and track record.

Lastly, it should be noted that the Moss-Magnuson Warranty Act applies to written warranties made on goods, not services. So it is in your best interest to have your car(s) serviced at an established shop which has a reputation for doing the best work at a fair price, and one which provides the best customer service, support and guarantee.