A not-so-MINI problem
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.