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A not-so-MINI problem

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Your car needs an oil change, so you stop by a place on the way home. Or maybe your car is making a funny noise, so you take it to your trusted mechanic.

Later on, when you go to check your car’s warranty, you find out your coverage might be in jeopardy because you didn’t get the work done at one of the car company’s dealers or centers. Can a car company do that?

The answer: no. It’s illegal for manufacturers or dealers to claim your warranty is void or to deny coverage under your warranty simply because someone other than the dealer did the work, or because you used an aftermarket part made by someone else, unless the manufacturer or dealer offers the part or service for free. 

That’s the issue behind the FTC’s settlement with BMW of North America.

A warranty is a promise to stand behind a product or to fix certain defects or malfunctions over a period of time. The warranty pays for any covered repairs or replacement parts during the warranty period.

According to the FTC, in its warranty booklets for MINIs, BMW told owners that to guarantee warranty coverage, they had to use genuine MINI parts. They also had to use a MINI center or dealer for oil changes and other work. For some MINI owners whose cars were still under warranty but no longer qualified for free maintenance, that meant they had to pay the company for those services in order to maintain warranty coverage.

If you think a dealer's service advisor denied your warranty claim unfairly, ask to speak with a supervisor. You also can file a complaint with your state Attorney General, local consumer protection office, or the FTC.

Read Auto Warranties & Routine Maintenance for more.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


"to guarantee warranty coverage, they had to use genuine MINI parts. They also had to use a MINI center or dealer for oil changes and other work." Thank goodness my wife unloaded her mini...

the dealer issued t+c of sale can state a rqmt that all veh service rqd dealer only.
& be agreed by the buyer at sale and imprinted on receipt & be a VOID t+c ? ray g

does the ftc or a subcontractor intake all these comments & does a human person ever even see ftc posted comments ?

FTC staff review comments, post them in accordance with our Blog comment policy and add replies. Comments submitted to the blog become part of the public domain, so they're visible to all.

This is really good to know, but does this includes only replacement parts with OEM specs? Or it also applies for custom upgrades (example: parts from HKS, K&N, Borla, etc.)?

We bought brand new Ram 2014 and the warranty also requires service at Dodge SS. Well , it's not just Germane cars that try to ripe off customers

Hello, I am glad I found this article. In 2010 I purchased a 2008 328xi BMW at HERB CHAMBERS BMW in Biston MA. The car cost me approximately $40,000.00 with a fire year tire warranty, extended warranty, clear coat and finance included. In July 2012 the car caught on fire while I was driving with my daughter in the car within two blocks from the house. It was still covered by original factory warranty. On April 1, 2013 I received a recall notification citing a electrical defect. I called BMW N.A. Many times they have been extremely rude and refuse to compensate me. Please any help you can give me would be helpful. I have full Documentation, correspondence, reports and names.
No one should be treated this way anywhere, especially where we have laws in America.

For information about your rights, read the FTC article about Buying a used car. The article explains that you have some options, such as contact your state Attorney General or the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. If you bought your car from a franchised dealer, you may be able to seek mediation through the Automotive Consumer Action Program (AUTOCAP), a dispute resolution program coordinated nationally by the National Automobile Dealers Association and sponsored through state and local dealer associations in many cities. Check with the dealer association in your area to see if they operate a mediation program.


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