Buying a new car is exhilarating. After all, who doesn’t get a thrill out of testing all those new gadgets, admiring the flawless paint and breathing in that new car smell?

And for those of you who have a new car or who are looking to buy, we’d like to make sure you know: You are never required to use the dealer, even when the vehicle is under warranty.

We know this is a common misconception because we often hear, “Oh, you guys are wonderful, but I bought a new car. I’ll be back as soon as the warranty is up.”

Most motorists want the dealer to cover the cost of warranty repairs, and that makes perfect financial sense. But many motorists would prefer to have their oil changes, tire rotations and regular maintenance performed by their “regular” auto repair shop. And the good news is: That’s entirely up to you. Federal law protects your choice as a consumer.

What’s the Difference Between Warranty Repairs and Maintenance?

Your new car warranty covers parts failures or malfunctions, such as a sunroof that won’t open, a Service Engine Soon light or an antilock brake (ABS) light. In these cases, your dealer will cover the diagnostics and repairs at no cost to you.

But your warranty does not cover routine maintenance, such as oil changes, tire rotations, air filters, brake service, fuel filters, or cooling system and transmission fluid flushes. You pay for these out of pocket, and you’re free to have these services done anywhere without jeopardizing your new car warranty.

Your choice is protected by federal law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, and you simply need to keep records verifying the maintenance was done.

My New Car Comes with Free Maintenance

To encourage new car buying, many carmakers now advertise “free maintenance” for a set number of years or miles. While “free maintenance” sounds like a great deal, it’s smart to understand the limitations that often come with a free maintenance plan. We’ve seen some cases where the free maintenance ended up costing the vehicle owner more in the long run.

The Dealer Will Tell Me If They See Warranty Repairs

Surprisingly, there is no guarantee that they’ll notify you of a needed warranty repair unless you specifically ask them to investigate a problem. Why? The carmakers allocate a specific amount of money in warranty repairs for each vehicle sold. Every dollar they don’t pay out in warranty work is more profit for the manufacturer, so they don’t encourage the dealers to proactively seek out warranty repairs. In fact, it’s not hard to imagine just the opposite—a dealer being penalized for filing too many warranty claims.

On the other hand, when you choose an independent shop like Auto Lab in Libertyville for your oil changes and other maintenance services, we’ll perform a complete vehicle inspection with every service visit and will notify you of any warranty repairs.

In fact, we’ll even take the vehicle to the dealer for you to have the warranty repair completed. It’s a no-cost time saver for you.

Have any more questions about your new car warranty? Feel free to contact Auto Lab in Libertyville anytime!

Are you still weighing the pros and cons of buying a new or used car? Learn more about How to Calculate the True Cost of Buying a New Car.