One of the most frustrating matters for car owners is when something goes wrong with a vehicle that is no longer under warranty. A water pump fails, an O-ring breaks or an air-conditioner compressor dies. Unless you purchased an extended warranty, you’ll be paying for repairs that will cost you hundreds perhaps thousands of dollars to complete. It is no wonder consumers think ill of their vehicles and switch to a competing brand the moment that their cars are paid off and when their finances allow them to move on.
Fully aware that a dissatisfied customer is one that can be lost for life, car manufacturers have been quietly managing these problems for years by offering secret repair assistance after the warranty has expired. Instead of saddling car owners with expensive repairs, manufacturers work with dealers to greatly reduce or forgive costly repair bills that are no longer covered under warranty.
These “secret” warranty plans have bailed out thousands of consumers every year from a wide variety of manufacturers including Ford, Volkswagen and Kia. Yes, even top-rated manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda may occasionally step in, handling certain repair costs in a bid to keep consumers happy.
After Warranty Assistance
Such “after warranty assistance” plans are well-known by car dealers, but have largely been missed by consumers. That’s because car manufacturers prefer to work with dealers directly on a case by case basis. If everyone knew about these AWA plans, then the program would be overwhelmed by requests. You have the good fortune to read this article and learn how your car’s repairs might be covered.
The following are some guidelines to follow the next time you face a major repair for a part that is no longer under warranty:
Be the original owner — If you bought the car new, then you are considered the original owner. Your chances of receiving special consideration are stronger if you’re the sole owner. Purchase the car used, even if it was only a year old, and you probably won’t be covered. You may need to submit a copy of your bill of sale and registration to the dealer to show proof of ongoing ownership.
Work with the manufacturer’s dealer — Although it isn’t impossible to get special help if you take your car to a private garage, your chances of receiving AWA consideration are much better if you work with your dealer. That’s because your dealer has a direct line up the manufacturer chain and can submit your request to the right person for review. Dealers typically do not have the final decision in AWA cases as they get reimbursed from manufacturers for reduced or for forgiven repair bills. Without that approval, the dealer would be forced to “eat” the cost of your repairs.
Ask for help — Dealer repair departments are busy places with everyone working diligently to see that repairs are done properly and in a timely manner. Your strategy here requires much patience and kindness on your part. Likely, you are frustrated that a part failed early and that frustration can come out as you interact with the repair department. Much composure is needed here! Politely ask if the repairs qualify for AWA in part or in totality. If the dealer representative believes that you have a strong case, he or she will push your case up the chain, with the service department manager or the dealer’s general manager alerted next. A decision may take some time, but your patience can pay off.
Should these steps fail or if you’re not the original owner, all is not lost. You may be able to work out a trade-in deal and come away with a new car that includes a better warranty. Or, you could take your car to an independent garage, effectively reducing your final bill by as much as 50 percent. A refurbished part can reduce your costs too, easing some of the burden of repairing an expensive part.