What happens if there are problems after my car's warranty expires?
UPDATED: February 20, 2013
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Whenever you purchase a vehicle that is still under warranty and a problem with the vehicle occurs, you can typically take the vehicle to any dealer authorized by the manufacturer and the issue will be taken care of free-of-charge to you. After the vehicle’s warranty expires, however, almost every instance in which a repair must be made to your vehicle will be your responsibility, regardless of the condition of your vehicle at the time of the warranty’s expiration. However, there may be limited exceptions to this warranty rule and you may have a couple of limited options for recourse.
If you notified the manufacturer of the problem before the warranty expired, and they attempted and failed to fix it, then you may be able to request that the claim be fulfilled. If there had been repeated repairs within the window of time set by your state's lemon law rules, you may have a legal cause of action against the car manufacturer under those lemon law rules. In instances where a defective vehicle part causes a safety hazard that warrants a recall of all vehicles made with that same defective element, you could have your vehicle’s issues resolved without having to open your pocketbook at all. Or, if you bought the car and were given no warranty or an unreasonably short warranty, then the implied warranty of merchantability may kick in to protect you, unless the vehicle was sold "as is" and/or sold in a private transaction between private parties.
If the issue involves an insignificant element of your vehicle, you’ll probably only become frustrated trying to deal with a complicated warranty and a unsympathetic vehicle manufacturer. You might be better off taking care of the problem yourself.
Making sure the terms of your warranty are honored can be difficult. It can also be difficult to deal with warranty issues if your repair is expensive. If you believe that your vehicle hasn't performed as it reasonably should have, then it's in your best interest to consult with a lawyer who can help you decipher the terms of your warranty in order to determine if you have any recourse.