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Do You Need to Service Your Car at the Dealership to Keep Your Warranty Valid?

If you buy a new car, you might be wondering if you need to service it at a dealership in order to keep your warranty valid. This is especially a concern if the dealership isn’t convenient — or if you’re on a tight budget and can get a better deal servicing your vehicle elsewhere. So, do you need to have regular maintenance performed at the dealership in order to keep your warranty active? Here’s the answer. Find a new car for sale near you

Short Answer: No

By law, automakers and dealerships are not allowed to make you perform regular maintenance at a dealership for a new-car warranty to remain valid. In other words, you’re free by law to get oil changes, tire rotations and other regular maintenance performed by just about any mechanic, and the automaker and dealership will still have to honor the new-car warranty.

Not That Simple

Of course, it would be easy if things were exactly that simple, but they’re not. Even though a dealership or automaker is supposed to honor a warranty regardless of who performed the maintenance, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will — especially because a dealership or automaker can easily claim maintenance wasn’t performed if they have no record of it. As a result, we suggest you document everything.

For example, if you get an oil change performed at an independent shop while your car is still under warranty, be sure to save the receipts. Same goes for a tire rotation, a fluid flush or any other regular maintenance you have done outside the dealer. That way, if there’s ever a question or a problem, no dealership or automaker can ever assert that you didn’t perform the maintenance required to keep your warranty valid.

With that said, there’s still one situation where an automaker could legally void a warranty: if you have regular maintenance performed at an independent shop and an error made by that shop causes damage to a component. Say, for example, you get an oil change at an independent shop, and the shop forgets to replace the oil, which destroys the engine. In this case, the automaker warranty will probably not cover any replacement parts, and your claim would be with the shop that performed the work.

In general, however, you should feel fine taking your car to a shop of your choosing for maintenance and service, even if it’s still under warranty.

Related Car Service and Warranty Articles:

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for accuracy since it was originally published.

 
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Doug,

    Porsche have refused an extended warranty unless I have a major service completed by the main dealer @ £1,600 can they enforce this?
    As i had a service using genuine Porsche parts now I have to have the same service again to obtain further warranty
  2. i personally know of a lawsuit that’s in rendering as we speak with a local dealership on this manner, a gentleman bought a new 2018 chevy silverado with 2400 miles on it, he went in for his free oil change and after waiting for 4 1/2 hours (and the truck was still sitting in the parking lot untouched) he left, he went to a valvoline oil change and had documentation that he used the synthetic blend oil that they provide, at 11,000+ miles their was a engine defect that was diagnosed as a lifter issue, the dealer refused the warranty and noted that the oil change wasn’t sufficient enough. the suit that is being filed is under the note of used vehicle sales from that dealer which states the dealer is selling vehicles with under 60,000 miles and offering remaining factory warranty, but the dealer cannot show adequate proof of the maintenance including oil changes on those said vehicles which hippocradically validates their claim. so if they cannot honor the warranty on that man’s truck because of records but if that truck was traded then they would put it on their lot and sell it with remaining factory warranty which at that moment is no longer about the vehicle but it’s solely about the person owning it!  

  3. I got a warranty with nationalrepairsolutions.com and they let me use whatever mechanic I wanted! 

  4. I just got a 2016 grand caravan and the transmittion needs to be changed it’s covered by warranty but it’s been in the shop for over a month. When we call they say that they are waiting for other parts to get shipped from another country. Would we be able to change mechanics while it already is being worked on? 

    • If the mechanic is different than the one you are currently using, the answer is, “No.” However, the answer is, ” Yes, ” if you know you have to pay the current mechanic what you owe and you must start from ground  zero paid with the new mechanic. Your cost is basically doubled when jumping from one mechanic to another. You might, on-the-otherhand, investigate the current mechanic and if found unreliable, build a case against this current mechanic and go to court. This sounds like the old adage, “You get what you pay for!” I carry rental reimbursement on my insurance. Do you?

  5. Doug, thanks for this clairification, but can you share with me the exact Case Law back from the fifties establishing this fact? My battle is with Subaru and they offer decreased reimbursement as I have only used them 25% of the time. My email is tomeckert@me.com

    • I have the same question, because my nearest dealership is 75 miles away. My bumper to bumper is over, but there is the 10-year warranty on the powertrain.

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