Little-known consumer law protects car owners when issues arise after warranty expires
Whenever someone purchases a new vehicle, the clock starts ticking on when the warranty will expire. But when the clock runs out, it doesn’t necessarily mean the consumer is out of options.
Lynaya Graham was thrilled to buy a 2016 Chevy Trax, especially since it still had 9,000 miles left on its factory warranty.
“I didn’t even test drive the car, that’s how excited I was,” she says.
But this may have been a mistake. Graham brought the car to a GM dealer five times because the “check engine” light kept coming on. The dealer kept resetting the light and replaced her turbocharger. But the problem wouldn’t go away.
“When I got the car back, the check engine light was off. But as soon as I got in the car and I drove five miles, it was smoking. The back was smoking from the engine,” Graham says.
Eventually, Graham’s warranty ran out.
Some might think that Graham is out of luck. But there is a consumer law that very few people know about. It is called the “Magnuson Moss Warranty Act” and it states that if someone has a repeated problem with their vehicle that isn’t fixed under warranty, they may be entitled to compensation. The protection may even hold true after the warranty expires.
“A lot of people feel helpless. They stop going back because the car dealers say, ‘Can’t find anything, can’t find anything.’ But you know in your heart something’s going on,” say attorney Bob Silverman of Kimmel & Silverman Law Firm.
Silverman specializes in automotive law. He says that anyone who has a warranty issue should keep taking the vehicle in for service and get a repair order each time.
He says to make sure that the order includes the date, odometer reading and the problem that is occurring, even if the service department can’t confirm it. And he says to keep the records, because they may be needed later.
“Most people don’t think about it when they go into their first repair. They don’t keep their first repair order because they expect it to be fixed right the first time,” Silverman says. “But keep those papers, really important.”
Graham was able to get a settlement with Silverman’s help. It was enough that she now plans to get a new car – one that she says she will be sure to test drive this time.