Ask LH: Can A Car Manufacturer Refuse Warranty Service?

Hey Lifehacker, I have a question about new car warranties. We have a Holden Captiva 5 series 2 2012 model. Recently the engine has failed. The problem is that due to my partner’s work hours over the last two years and a recent spell of unemployment, he only had it serviced once.

Holden says the engine is seizing because the oil is too old. I think it should be covered anyway. Do we have a valid claim or did my partner void the warranty by missing the service? Thanks, Oils Ain’t Oils

Car picture from Shutterstock

Dear OAO,

As much as I’d like to give you good news, I’m afraid your consumer rights haven’t been violated. Extended car warranties come in a variety of flavours with different conditions and coverage levels attached. However, they pretty much all stipulate that the vehicle needs to be serviced at specified intervals by a licensed mechanic.

Usually, this needs to be done according to the manufacturer’s specifications and using approved parts. Failure to do so results in a voided warranty: a fact that would have been plainly evident in the terms and conditions you signed.

Unfortunately, your recent financial troubles are unlikely to sway things in your favour. Insurance companies aren’t known for being compassionate: if they were, every customer would suddenly have a sob story.

This is just one of many loopholes that can automatically void your extended warranty. Other examples include making modifications, continuing to drive your car after a fault has become apparent and damage caused by an act of terrorism.

The takeaway lesson here is that you should only sign up for an extended car warranty if you have the money and wherewithal to honour the agreement.


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