Will Skipping an Oil Change Void Your Vehicle Warranty?
New Vehicle Warranty
Earlier we had learned some very important warranty voiding situations from a Toyota Master Diagnostic Technician who explained pretty much everything you need to know about car warranties to ensure that you are making the most of your vehicle’s warranty.
The key points were primarily focused on whether using non-OEM parts or buying non-OEM aftermarket parts can void your warranty as well as if doing some of your own maintenance work or having a commercial service center (rather than a dealership mechanic) do the work can void your warranty.
Related article: Fast Lube Type Service Center Warning for New and Used Cars
The focus today, however, is more about what happens if you do not have your vehicle properly maintained---especially after a maintenance reminder is flashed on your dash display and you choose to ignore it.
Vehicle Warranties in a Nutshell
New cars and trucks come with a manufacturer’s warranty to protect the new car buyer from costly engine and drivetrain failure due to a faulty part or mis-assembly by the manufacturer. These warranties are a law-mandated contract that typically covers a vehicle for a set number of miles and/or months in which most repairs are covered at no cost to the policyholder for the length of the contract.
However, if the vehicle owner is determined to be negligent with his or her vehicle by racing the vehicle unnecessarily, abusing the suspension off-roading or overloading the vehicle with cargo, or damages the drivetrain by towing a vehicle above its recommended max towing capacity, then the warranty can be voided.
But what if the negligence is something as simple as not changing the oil and filter within the manufacturer’s specifications? Particularly if the engine should fail after the recommended oil change and before the owner “gets around” to changing the oil?
It turns out that, yes, even failure to follow routine vehicle maintenance by an owner can and will result in their warranty being voided leaving the owner to have to foot the bill for any subsequent damages to the vehicle resulting from the poor personal care of his or her vehicle.
The News Story
A recent news story from Ontario on CTV News reported that a truck owner found himself in such a warranty-voiding jam when his truck died on him in traffic from engine failure. He felt relieved momentarily when looking at his odometer be realized that his vehicle was still under its manufacturer’s warranty.
However, that relief turned to shock when he was later informed by the car dealer he bought the vehicle from, that the dealership would not honor the warranty---because he had not done the required oil changes at the appropriate times and thereby had voided his warranty.
The news article stated that:
"As indicated in the vehicle's Owner’s Manual, under no circumstances should oil change intervals exceed 16,000 km or 12 months, whichever comes first. Our authorized Ram dealers reported that said maintenance was not performed to these parameters," said the spokesperson.
"There is no hesitancy on our part to comply with the provisions of a warranty, as long as they apply to a factory defect. Damage or failures attributed to any other source are the owner's responsibility."
Here is a video of the news story:
Ontario man who missed oil changes responsible for $19,000 engine replacement
Looking at potential bill of $19,000 plus taxes for a new engine, the owner will most likely not be able to successfully appeal the voiding of his warranty. Blaming a reputed service station who changed his oil sometime AFTER the recommended oil change period and blaming the manufacturer for not supplying a physical paper owner’s manual with the vehicle upon purchase, are not expected to result in any reversal of the manufacturer’s policy or sympathy from the courts on a purely contractual matter.
What are your thoughts on this situation? Let us know about it in the comments section below.
For more about maintenance that is essential need-to-know info, look at these two selected articles: "The Once in a Lifetime Toyota Prius Maintenance You Will Ever Have to Do“ and “How to Inspect the Transmission Fluid on a Used Prius.”
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Timothy Boyer is Torque News Tesla and EV reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.
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