All new cars come with a manufacturer warranty. It doesn't matter if it is leased, financed, or just a cash purchase. All of these come with it. We all know what does that means, but, have you ever had to use it? Or more precisely: do you know how to really use your warranty?
Car Warranty in Canada: My Real Life Experience
I will make it simple and will describe what I did in something that happened a couple of days ago. The simple steps I used, plus some other friends and colleagues advice, lead me to the story I will relate next. Please, be advised the experience may vary, and this does not represent any legal advice:
My 2018 VW Atlas started showing some problems with the door lock system last Monday. Somehow, the "automatic" system that locks the doors when the car gains speed, couldn't completely close(locking) the doors. Even manually or using the remote with the car parked, it worked occasionally and sometimes doors didn't work from the outside. Basically, there was a risk that I got either locked out or the doors were prone to open while driving accidentally by my kids (who never touch that, BTW).
The vehicle was acquired in December 2017 (1 year and a half ago), and Volkswagen has a four years warranty period coverage in Canada. This literally means that the lock system is still under warranty. So, what should I do now?
Not Any Dealer
The #1 and most important thing you have to do is, if possible, go to the same dealership where you acquired your vehicle. On my specific case, and as a coincidence too, I leased my Altas at VW Centre Ville, right in the middle of Montreal Downtown. It is the closest VW dealership from both LeaseCosts Office and my place.
Now, you may say: "Any VW Certified Service will provide the same". And you are right. The fact that you go to the dealership that is closest to your place or the most convenient one won't make much difference on the repairs. Volkswagen Canada will take care of the warranty on any Certified Dealer, and that's right. But the difference actually relies on another car: the courtesy one.
The Courtesy Car
Yep. That's it. The courtesy car is the vehicle that will be provided to you while yours is in the workshop or waiting to be analyzed. Just because you have a VW doesn't directly means that you will get a courtesy one on any VW dealership.
Courtesy cars are usually available at the service area and only for customers from the same dealership. On my specific case, I got offered a few options: a Golf, a Jetta, or a Tiguan. Of course, if I'm downsizing from an Atlas, I would pick first the Tiguan.
The 2019 Tiguan I got as a loaner, while I was waiting for the Atlas to get fixed.
Still, there is a chance that all loaners/courtesy vehicles are out. Talk to the Service customer service in advance and anticipate this. On my specific case, I got offered to take my car out and then bring it back the day after. In terms of commuting, it would mean that, in the morning, I would have to go again to deliver it to the shop. If any errand came by, that would risk my chances of getting it fixed fast.
I just took the courtesy vehicle.
Fuel & Km Allowance Limitation
Yes, it is a car provided for you to not being stopped, but it has some limitations. You have to pay for the fuel you use (by refilling) and a usual 300 km/day limit. Insurance was paired with my own on top of it and, just as if you were renting any vehicle, we had to do a fast "damage inspection" to make sure the condition of the car before getting it into my hands.
Still, I don't mind: Volkswagen Canada was taking care of all the problem, and I wasn't going to be stuck with the repairs and it was a crucial factor for the peace of mind experience of the warranty.
Now, how about the repairs?
The Warranty Coverage
Labour, parts... someone had to pay for it. All the equipment used by the Service department of the VW dealership, the time spent by the mechanics and the costs of the courtesy car. All the aspects related to vehicle repairs and collaterals comes with a cost.
Well, that is the entire purpose of the Warranty: the manufacturer pays for that. The Warranty Coverage literally means that the manufacturer takes care of all problems specified by their coverage program up to 4 years or 80,000 km from the vehicle purchase.
If, on the other hand, the system wasn't working correctly because of something that I specifically did, let's say that a vehicle crashes into an accident or somehow there is an external force that affects it, then the warranty may be voided. Crashed vehicles or clearly damaged ones are obviously not part of the responsibility of the manufacturer.
Keep the Records
So, after all the work, I got the call: "Hey Jorge, your car is ready." Went back, got the explanation of what happened and an invoice with all the details:
- A replacement of the malfunctioning door lock.
- A 120 Points inspection verification.
- The car washed.
All for free for me, the VW customer. A smooth experience that I don't doubt may be the primary objective across all brands. But definitely, what I paid for.
And I keep my invoice for the future. In the case, I decide to sell it or transfer the car lease (I'm looking forward the 2020 Atlas to be released) it is the vehicle "medical history" and a perfect record of transparency.
So, there are a couple of factors I would like to mention here. I would say, these will directly improve the end result, but more than anything, the experience. Having a problem with your "brand new" car isn't fun at all and the experience of the fact of getting it fixed is crucial for everyone.
- Visit the Service Dealer of the dealer where you originally acquired your vehicle.
- Evaluate the options of Loaners. If these are not available and the problem isn't urgent, book an appointment for a moment where you can get one guaranteed.
- Consider the alternatives in advance if it is something that may not be covered by the warranty.