Your vehicle needs a minor repair, but the car dealership is hours away. You’re tempted to ask a local shop to take a look at it for you—or maybe even get your own hands dirty—but nagging doubt creeps in. You know you’re covered by a vehicle service contract, also referred to as an extended warranty, but you’re not sure about the terms. Can you only get work done at any dealership or does location matter? What would void a car warranty anyway?

Following your owner’s manual recommended maintenance schedule and repairing breakdowns right away are essential to keeping you on the road longer. Here are some factors to consider if you’re unsure of where to get work done on your used or new car

How Does a Vehicle Warranty Work?

Whether provided directly by the automotive manufacturer or by a third party, an auto warranty protects your vehicle and its parts should they become defective or break down. Factory warranty providers offer different types of warranties, with different levels of coverage, but at their core, they all do the same thing: keep you on the road.

Every new vehicle comes with a warranty from the manufacturer, covering parts for a certain number of years, or up to a certain mileage. This is your vehicle’s factory warranty.

Once this coverage has expired, there’s often the option to pay for an extended warranty, with the logic being that the amount spent on a warranty will be less than the cost of potential repairs. Third-party extended warranties generally offer better value, however, including additional services like regular maintenance and roadside assistance for a similar amount of money.

Whether you’re dealing with a factory or extended warranty, there will be a set of terms you must follow in your contract and owner’s manual to avoid invalidating it. Go against them, and you risk having any warranty claim rejected.

Do I Have to Take My Vehicle to a Dealership to Comply with My Warranty?

The answer depends on your manufacturer’s warranty and the work you intend on carrying out. If you need a tire rotation and your policy only covers engine components, you can feel free to get it done wherever you like. 

There has also been an uptick in drivers sourcing their own parts to bring down the pricing of the overall repair, but even this can end up voiding your extended warranty. Since certified mechanics at dealerships and local repair shops have the resources to find the right part, it’s been to leave the heavy lifting to them.

They can also keep a record of where the parts are from and when they were installed in case you experience an issue down the line. If you handle repairs yourself or source replacement parts, then that leaves you in a tricky situation once a breakdown occurs since you won’t know what caused what. To avoid headaches and additional expenses later on, visit your trusted mechanic to get you back on the road.

Avoid Voiding Your Warranty: Dos and Don’ts

Do: Take the Time to Read Your Policy

By reading and re-reading your extended warranty, you know exactly what you’re covered for, and who’s authorized to carry out warranty-related repairs. You also know what other variables can void your warranty, like failing to get scheduled maintenance or handling warranty repairs on your own.

Don’t: Give Your Vehicle Over to Someone You Don’t Trust

If it can be proved within reason that works carried out by a non-authorized mechanic (whether you or a local shop) has led to the failure of a part covered by warranty, your provider has the right to deny any claims related to that part (although the rest of your car is unaffected). This is regardless of whether the part in question was OEM, recycled, or aftermarket. Make sure you only let someone you trust look under the hood, or it could end up an expensive mistake.

 Do: Abide by Your Policy

You pay good money for your warranty, and voiding it is an unnecessary waste. Once you know exactly what you can and can’t do, you should always follow these rules strictly. For example, to submit a claim successfully on an Endurance policy, the repair must be carried out by an ASE-certified repair shop or mechanic. If your local shop isn’t ASE-certified and you take your vehicle there, you’ll end up having to foot the bill for any work undertaken.

Don’t: Skip Maintenance

These days everyone is busy, and keeping your car in check often comes bottom of the list. Even worse, you may skip the smaller jobs to save a little cash. The fact is that regular maintenance is essential to keeping your car healthy and avoid sudden breakdowns. To make routine maintenance easier for you to keep up with, and much less costly, breakdown protection such as EnduranceAdvantage includes maintenance coverage—from oil changes to covering some of the cost of getting new brake pads, you’re covered. 

Do: Keep Logs and Receipts

Whether directly related to your warranty or not, always keep proof of any repairs or maintenance carried out on your vehicle. In the event of a claim, this will be vital if your warranty provider has any questions about maintenance history, what repairs have been carried out, and what parts were used. In addition, having these when you come to sell your car will likely increase its value.

Don’t: Forget to ask your provider if you aren’t sure

Any warranty service provider will be happy to answer questions you have about your policy, as well as clarify the terms of the vehicle service contract where necessary. If you’ve read over your documentation and you still aren’t sure if a local shop is authorized to carry out a specific warranty repair or not, have the mechanic contact a service advisor to double-check.

When in Doubt, Leave It to the Experts

While there are absolutely some repair and maintenance jobs you don’t need a dealership for, you should only have them carried out elsewhere if you’re positive it won’t affect your warranty. Simple things such as replacing basic fluids, windscreen wipers, and bulbs are easily done on your driveway without violating any terms, but when it comes to anything bigger, always consult your policy.

A simple rule of thumb is that, if a part is covered by your warranty, only an authorized professional should interfere with it. And if you don’t know for certain, don’t do anything until you are.

Breakdown Protection That Can Save You Thousands

Extended warranties are designed to be a huge help to motorists in need, but being tied to a dealership tens of miles away from your home can make the repair process difficult. Luckily, third-party coverage providers like Endurance open up a network of ASE-certified repair shops, so you can choose the one closest to you, and get the quality assistance you need, faster.

Endurance extended warranty coverage is the most comprehensive coverage on the market. Not only does it include 24/7 roadside assistance, trip-interruption cover, but it also grants you a year’s free access to Endurance Elite’s fantastic everyday driver benefits. Check out the EnduranceAdvantage plan if you want to forget about paying for essential maintenance too.

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