Ask LH: Can A Car Manufacturer Refuse Warranty Service?

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.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • Why are you referencing extended warranties when the question appears to be about the manufacturer’s warranty…? As far as I am aware Holden come with 3 years warranty by default.

    The answer is probably still the same. Servicing is a condition required for warranty to remain valid and it is a legitimate clause, particularly when the issue in this circumstance is probably something that would have been avoided if serviced regularly.

  • Also not a loophole. Just what the warranty specifies.

    A loophole would be some way for either party to get around the terms and conditions of warranty.

  • A warranty only covers damage resulting from mistakes/negligence by the manufacturer.

    A car driven without servicing until the oil is so bad the engine begins to seize doesn’t seem to fall into that category.

  • Sadly I have come across people before who thinks servicing a car is a waste of money. Oil change is probably the single most important thing one should do along with brakes/tyres.
    I find it hard to believe that this even came up as a legit question in the first place.

  • This is a typical example of false economy. The potential savings from not paying for servicing has now wound up costing more in the longer-term due to a major fault.

    I have some empathy for OAO if money was tight, but plenty of outlets do 12 monthly logbook servicing for not much over $200. Shame they’re having to learn this lesson the hard way.

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