Car need a service?

It’s time to service your car. Where do you turn? Someone
has told you that if you don’t return to either the business
where you bought the car or an authorised agent of that
business, your warranty will be void. Is that true?
Can you get your car serviced by someone other than the
business or an authorised agent of the business that sold the
car without voiding the warranty? The short answer is ‘yes’.

Though there are some conditions:

New vehicle warranty
Where a problem arises with the vehicle that is covered
under the warranty, the vehicle should be taken to the dealer
for repair. These repairs should be done free of charge under
the warranty.

New and used vehicle servicing
In relation to general servicing, motor vehicle dealers are
entitled to insist that any servicing performed on cars they
sell is carried out by qualified staff, according to the
manufacturer’s specifications, and using genuine or
appropriate quality parts where required. Provided these
conditions are met, regardless of where you choose to get
your car serviced, your warranty will remain intact. So shop
smart and shop around.

Qualified staff
Qualified staff is a party or parties, other than an ‘authorised
dealer’, who is capable of performing car servicing. Some
servicing venues display qualification certificates, but if
you’re not sure the staff are qualified, just ask.

Manufacturer’s specifications
If an independent agent implies that it can perform general
car servicing to manufacturers’ specifications and does not
perform that function satisfactorily, then you have rights and
remedies against the agent regardless of whether the agent
has factory qualifications or not.

Genuine or appropriate quality parts
The issue here is not who manufactured the part/s, it is
whether the part/s are fit or appropriate for the purpose
intended. If a part is non-genuine, but is interchangeable
with the genuine part, it could be seen as being fit or
appropriate for the purpose and would therefore not void the
manufacturer’s warranty. However, it must also be noted
that should the part/s installed fail or not perform
satisfactorily, the consumer then has rights against the fitter
and/or manufacturer of those replacement parts. If the nongenuine
part fails, and causes some other damage to the
vehicle, the dealer and vehicle manufacturer will not be
liable for damage caused by the failure of that part.
Thus, provided consumers do research and ensure that
wherever they take a vehicle for servicing, the staff are
qualified and all other provisions above are met, the
warranty will be safely intact for the warranty period.

I negotiated an express warranty when I got my new car.
Does this cover me further?

Express warranties are usually specified under the agreement
with the dealer; it might state a specific time period,
maximum liability and limitations. Express warranties
operate in addition to statutory warranties, and cannot
restrict the provisions of the statutory warranty which is
implied in every single consumer sale.

Under a statutory warranty, goods must meet a basic level of
quality and do their job properly, bearing in mind their price
and the way they are described. Goods, and services
performed, must last for a reasonable time regardless of any
extended warranty period, remembering that what is
reasonable depends on the price paid and the type of product.

You should expect your new car to run smoothly for some
time without requiring any repairs. If, however, your new car
has a manufacturing fault, then under your statutory
warranty, you should expect the problem to be fixed by the
supplier or manufacturer free of charge regardless of any
express warranty. Statutory rights apply whether the goods
are new, ‘seconds’ or second-hand.

For example, the dealer may provide an express warranty for
one year or 20 000 kilometres, which includes free
scheduled servicing and parts. The free servicing and parts is
an added extra and it is up to you to decide if it is worth
paying extra for.

Generally dealers will be able to place certain conditions on
the express warranty given to buyers. A consumer may void
their expressed warranty if, for example, the car is fitted with
non-genuine parts. However, the statutory warranties will
continue to apply unless the service of the independent
mechanic or the fitting of the non-authorised part caused the
fault.

Dealers are not permitted to limit their obligations under the
warranty and refund provisions of the TPA or fair trading
legislation, or make any representations to this effect, e.g.
that the warranty is void if the vehicle is not serviced by the
dealer or its agent.

You are effectively covered by both warranties. The express
warranty may offer you some further cover above and
beyond the cover you have under the statutory warranty.
Make sure you do your research and ask exactly what the
express warranty will cover. If it doesn’t cover anything that
isn’t already covered in your statutory warranty, there is no
point handing over the extra cash. For further information,
see Warranties and Refunds.

 

Reprint taken from the ACCC consumer express — April 2005