Can You Trust Your New Car Warranty?

Loopholes: the manufacturer’s favourite way of weaselling out of a warranty claim. 

Cars are complex machineries, hence why warranties are offered on them to allow for peace of mind motoring. And as warranty periods get longer and longer in recent years, this should, in theory, make for longer periods of stress free car ownership. 


However, it has long been a growing concern for many, especially those who have been burned by warranty claims being denied, that these warranties are a thorn in the ownership process, rather than a blessing when things go wrong. So the question now is: how much one can actually trust these warranties?

We’ve all heard warranty claims being denied for even the smallest and most insignificant of reasons. Leaving many owners hundreds if not thousands out of pocket, and more painfully, the feeling that they’ve been conned. 

Proton Sales Outlet and servicing

The after-sales department will contrive any reason to make owners pay for the mistakes the manufacturer has made. Loopholes hidden within the fine print warranty booklet are specifically designed by the manufacturer to weasel their way out of honouring a warranty claim. Thus making a warranty claim on even the most stock out-of-the-factory vehicle with the most pristine of factory service history a herculean task. 

‘Categorised under wear and tear’ is perhaps the most common turn of phrase manufacturers use to make owners pay for their mistakes. Even if the part did wear significantly faster than expected. ‘Some parts are warrantied while others are not’ is another commonly heard one that manufacturers deploy to weasel out of their commitments. Perhaps the best though is the ‘extraordinary driving circumstances’ excuse, for which many drivetrain and tyre related warranty claims have been conveniently voided though this line. 

Stories about manufacturers voiding warranties on cars with smallest of tweaks are too a well publicised occurrence already. Not talking about any major modifications here, but minor mods like adding tint, changing the head unit and other equally minor quality of life improvements has been excuse enough for manufacturers to void claims. Even if the mods done were completely unrelated to the part that has went wrong within the vehicle. 

These make the more cautious Malaysian petrified of doing anything to improve their cars, as they are afraid that they might lose their warranty. Begrudgingly living with their poorly equipped econoboxes until the warranty runs out. 

This is made even the more galling when manufacturers mandate stick rigidly to a regimented servicing schedule at the authorised dealership in the hopes of maintaining the warranty, with ‘rigidly’ being the keyword here. Because even being just slightly late for a service has been used against owners when processing warranty claims. 

Think about it now, the longer warranty periods now being offered with more and more new cars nowadays means more servicing needs to be done at the dealer with the inevitable markup. So in a sense we are all paying a premium with these services, just for them to inevitably deny your warranty claim when it comes.

Moreover, when one actually succeeds in twisting the arm of the manufacturer, and finally get to claim the warranty, they’ll sure as hell make you work for it then too. Contrary to experiences claiming warranties on electronics, where the process is usually go in to the repair shop, wait a couple of hours then walk out with the fixed product; the claim on your car may understandably not as speedy as that. 

Speaking from personal experience, just processing the claim took several weeks. As the part needs to be shipped from the other side of the world it would seem. Though I probably should be considered one of the lucky ones, as other cars have been there for months while the back and forth continues between the owners and the manufacturer. 

Warranties are getting more and more crucial when owning a new car these days. Especially with the current crop of cars packed to the rafters with all sorts of cutting-edge tech, not to mention the very-expensive-to-replace electric battery packs on PHEV or hybrid vehicles. That said with all these added complexity, more loopholes can be added to the warranty book. Thus allowing manufacturers to continue scamming their way out of fixing problems they ought to fix. 

BMW 330e PHEV charging

Sure a longer warranty period, on the face of it, should guarantee trouble free motoring for a longer period of time. However with all the aforementioned warranty headaches Malaysians are facing these days, it is high time we pose the question to the manufacturers on whether or not these warranties are genuinely helping the consumer with their troublesome cars, or just another way for the manufacturers to make money off after-sales. Ergo the question: Can we really trust our car warranties?

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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