The universal “hidden warranties”

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Every car sold in the United States comes with a warranty you may not be aware of, which covers a variety of components for up to ten years or 100,000 miles. This is a set of “emissions warranties,” designed to ensure that cars do not over-pollute.

This mandated warranty was actually quite clever: it placed the burden of emission system reliability on the automaker, so they had an incentive to make the car stay “clean” for as long as they can. As a result, emissions systems tend to be very reliable over the years.

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Check your warranty booklet for details; you may find that the factory covers not just the obvious emissions-related items, but also the fuel injection, spark plugs, speed and temperature sensors, throttle body, and turbocharger. (Some are only covered to the first replacement interval – e.g. spark plugs may be covered until 30,000 miles or so).

If your dealer gives you trouble — say, claiming ignorance and refusing to believe the booklet that comes with the car — try calling the company at the phone number in your owner’s manual. If that fails, or for more information than you get with your car, write to:

Director, Field Operation and Support Division (6406J)
401 M Street Southwest
Washington, DC 20460

There are some restrictions. First, to qualify for a repair, you may have to fail inspection — so, if your state has inspection stations, use one rather than your dealer to get the car inspected! You have to be operating the vehicle within the country of purchase, and within normal parameters. For more, check the book in your glove compartment!

Some states, notably California, have additional laws for your protection. Get to know them. They are in your glove compartment! (Well, they were when the car was new). Details on lemon laws are also provided in your glove compartment (for most states) — nearly every state has lemon laws now.

Hidden warranties that we know about

Most auto companies will voluntarily fix common problems that are basically due to manufacturing or design defects. A neighbor received a new body computer on his long-out-of-warranty minivan for free. Call the company – it can’t hurt to try. (The “silent warranty” is a widespread practice of dubious legality, and car companies are unlikely to admit they exist, especially if you call them secret or silent warranties).


  1. Hello. Do you have thoughts or comments on how to get the dealership to repair your pre-owned car that you purchased from them less than 45 day ago? Thanks.

  2. I have provided to Simi Valley Chevy original sticker, VIN stating I had warranties for VOLTEC & Emissions. Brought the car MATT GOODING (Ser. Manager)almost hit by a mac-truck “LOSS OF POWER. Purchased car for $10500 (private party) because warranties. Contacted customer relations GM to complain. Began late Sept/Oct. of 2108. for 6.5 months I have been played with and not helped. I have taken the car to Rydell Northridge on the request of GM, then back to Simi Valley Chevy Service (David Winters) they claim that there is nothing wrong. I have provide documentation and video of the issue. ROY at customer relations told me he was the only person I could speak to. 6.5 months later will do favor of re-instating the warranties. Still would not let me speak to his boss. Meanwhile the car still is unsafe and not fixed. Now SimiChevy Service (new manager David Winters) informs me the Drive Rotor B needs fixing. That it is $5200 dollars but they will do it for $1500 dollars if I do it right now. (This is insane) the part is $93 dollars. I have investigated the issue online from other consumers, both issues are effecting the main battery that is under warrantee but no one will let me speak to Technial Assistance Center who will make the ultimate ruling. I brought the car in at !01/102k miles, it now has 113k miles and is very unsafe. I have begged and pleaded and time keeps moving on like I am being shuffled until everything runs out. I have asked for the Battery to be replaced, and the drive rotor B to be fixed (at their expense) they will not help me at all. I am not sure what to do but to file a serious complaint. I have asked them, “does my widow” have to take action after I am killed in the car? I am attaching the unsafe videos here. afraid to file this that they will retaliate.

  3. 2014 Chevy sonic
    Transmission went out had rebuilt and trans lines replaced at a dealer under warranty 2 month later engine fails dealer won’t fix and go or the extended warranty comp won’t fix

  4. On 9/17/18 I paid $18,000 cash and purchase the scion at Frontier Toyota the odo mileage was 23,929 . On 10/20/18 and reported that the car horn stop working. After having my car for almost 4 to 5 hours I was told they had no one there to complete the repair. I took my car back on 10/27/18 the odo mileage was 30, 455 which was still under the manufacturing warranty. The was not working still and went under repair. Within a few days the Horn stopped working again. For several weeks I called the dealership and left messages through out this time for Rene Velasco service advisor and Frank Ramirez Service Director and never got a call back. I notified Toyota Customer Care ticket # 1901112272 and they told Mr. Ramirez to call /me. He called me and I took the car back to Frontier on 1/7/19. I was told a part needed to me ordered and I would get a call once the part came in. No one called me. I called in Feb 2019 and left a Vm for Ramirez and told him I have not heard from anyone. Valasco called me and apologized for no one calling me. I took my car back on 3/4/19 my mileage odo was at 47, 845. I was told because of me trying to get the horn fixed so many times the Director approved my repair outside the warranty mileage. Two days later the horn stopped working again. I called Frontier and left messages for Velasco and Ramirez and neither of them called me back. On 5/31/19 I called Toyota Customer care and spoke to Randall. He called the dealership at 10:35 am so I could talk to the General Manager Bob Corson. He was told he was not available and Mr. Corson would call me back by the end of business day. He did not call me.

  5. I have a 2010 Honda CRV I purchased from an individual and take to my dealer for maintenance and repairs. I’ve noticed it is using oil extremely fast and was just informed this is a known issue and will run about $2000 but they might be able to get Honda to pay half. In doing research I found out that yes, this was a problem so Honda put an 8 year extended warranty or 125,000 miles. The dealer never mentioned this in all the times I have taken my vehicle in and I only have 62,000 miles. They tell me warranty is past. Shouldn’t they have said something about this issue with my model car before? I feel taken advantage of as a single woman who trusted they would always be honest with me. Is there anything I can do?

  6. My 2015 ford F150’s air conditioner hasn’t worked for the past three months; can any Ford dealership do the repairs under the Federal Warranty for free!

  7. I am a Disabled Veteran (100%) from the Vietnam era. I have a 2015 Ford F150 whose air conditioner hasn’t worked for the past three months or so. My question is: will any Ford dealership fix my A/C using the Federal Warranty provision and bill the automaker instead of me? Please let me know as soon as you can. thank you, your attention on this matter is greatly appreciated. Respectfully, Steve Castañeda

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