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After Warranty Assistance: Warranty Coverage For Vehicles Outside Of Warranty

Recently, I came across a story about a person with a 2004 SUV that needed a really expensive repair, all because of a leaky $4 O-Ring. The problem – the warranty on this person’s SUV is for 5 years or 60k miles, but the SUV has 95k miles on it. It was past the mileage limit (but still inside the 5 year time limit).

What can a person do in this situation? Since the part is not 5 years old yet, isn’t there something the dealer can do to warranty this repair?

The good news is there’s something called “after-warranty-assistance” for people in this situation – provided the person with the problem is the vehicle’s original owner (if you bought the car used this won’t help you). After warranty assistance won’t cover all your costs, but it might make a big dent in the total bill.

Basically, after-warranty-assistance (AWA) is an un-official program between a car manufacturer and their dealer (most large automakers offer some version of this program). Under an AWA claim, a dealer can offer a reduced labor rate and/or free parts on something that failed outside the terms of the warranty, provided there’s some “gray” area in terms of miles and/or years. For instance, when I was managing at a Ford dealership, I once got Ford to cover a broken A/C compressor on a used Explorer. The SUV was 5 years old, but it only had 20k miles. So even though it was outside the time limit on the 3/36 warranty, it was inside the miles (these were the days before Ford’s 5yr/60k mile powertrain warranty). I remember the service manager working with me on a couple of high miles vehicles that were less than 3 years old. Same goes for my time at a Toyota dealer.

Typically AWA is granted on a percentage basis – from 20% of the cost of the uncovered repair all the way up to 100%. If you’re still inside part of your manufacturer’s warranty (or even if you’re just outside it) you’ve got a shot at AWA.

If you want to improve your chances of being granted some AWA from your local dealer, I would suggest the following:

–    Pull all your maintenance and repair records for your vehicle. Hopefully you’ve had this work done at your local dealer. This will prove you take care of your car and that you’re a loyal customer.
–    If you own or have owned any other vehicles of the same make (GM, Ford, Dodge, etc.), make copies of the registration for each. This will show the manufacturer you are a long term owner of their product.
–    Be nice to the people at the dealership – these AWA requests take a lot of work on their end. If they don’t like you, you’re not going to get much help.
–    Follow up with the dealership’s GM and service manager – these are the two people with the most power to help you.
–    Explain that you understand you’re going to have some out of pocket expenses. Even if the dealer can’t get AWA from the manufacturer, they might be willing to split some labor costs with you in the interest of customer service.

If none of this works (or if you aren’t the original owner of this vehicle with the problem), you might ask the dealer about what they can do towards a trade-in. Maybe the service and sales departments can work out a way to get you full value for your vehicle, even though it needs an expensive repair.

If you want to keep your vehicle, a local independent repair shop might be able to cut your bill in half. They might be able to get you a refurbished part as well. The service advisors at your local dealership can probably recommend a couple of places that do good work for less money (with a little buttering up).

Have a service problem that you’d like some advice with? Contact us!

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. MICHAEL #

    I recently purchased a 2000 Toyoto Tacoma 2WD std cab Prerunner truck. I found later that the heater control module fan switch on worked on off and high. I contacted the Local dealer and they informed me the module was bad and needed to be replaced. I purchased a new one from Toyoto dealer and installed the module and the new module worked just like the one I replaced. I contacted the dealer again and they said I needed to bring in the truck for a checkout. Do you have any suggestion’s on how I can check the blower system on my truck. I’m not happy with the Toyoto dealer for telling me I needed a new heater control module which does the same as the original.

    February 23, 2009
  2. MICHAEL #

    see above

    February 23, 2009
  3. Michael – I don’t have any suggestions specific to your problem. Your best bet is to get with a technician or buy a service manual.

    March 10, 2009
  4. Paul Trojan #

    My 2005 Toyota Sienna XLE went into service in Aug 2005. I have never needed to have any work done on it and currently I have 55,500 miles on it. A few months ago I started having trouble with the driver’s side door. When you open it it makes a popping/snapping sound. I have been ill for the past few months (so has my wife) and I was unable to do anything about it. I finally took it to my local Toyota dealer and they said to take it to their body shop as it was an out of warranty issue. The body shop manager informed me that the extension was for 5 yrs or 100,00 miles. I am over the years but I am under the mileage by almost half. They asked me to call Toyota Customer Service and ask them what they can do for me. I called them and they can do nothing according to the rep. I was not notified of this problem although I am a registered owner and have received notification e-mails in the past. The most recent was the hydraulic opener on the rear lift door. I have owned Toyotas since 1993 starting with a Previa (Camry and Sienna), and my son is a Toyota owner also (Tundra and Tacoma). The rep was very abrupt and did say she was sorry. The repair as I understand it is extensive and expensive. What are my recourses.

    October 20, 2010
  5. admin #

    Paul – The dealership service manager is your best shot. He or she has the most leverage with Toyota and the ability to get some or all of this repair covered.

    You may have trouble getting AWA in this case – you said that you knew about this problem for some time, but you didn’t bring it in. I realize that was due to some health issues (sorry to hear that, hope things are better), but the letter of the warranty is clear: you must bring in your vehicle as soon as you notice something isn’t working properly. Failing to do so can cause more damage…if your door needs additional work because you didn’t bring it in quickly, then you’re probably out of luck.

    October 20, 2010
  6. Dave #

    I have a 2005 F-350 Super Duty Crew Cab. 141000 miles, just had my 2nd egr go out. Any ideas about getting Ford to pay or help pay for this repair. The first one wernt out at 103000 miles. It seems that Ford has all these great people that design engines, they would stand behind this repair. So far no luck.

    December 29, 2010
  7. admin #

    After 100k miles, AWA is pretty much out the window. However, a Powerstroke diesel comes with a 100k mile warranty, so you might get a little help.

    EGR valve problems are really common on 6.0 trucks – did you ever get an engine management computer update? There was a relationship between extended idle time and EGR valve clogging that was supposed to have been fixed by a engine computer update. If you did your regular maintenance at a Ford dealer, I’m sure they would have taken care of it for you. If not, that might be the reason you need another EGR valve.

    December 29, 2010
  8. admin #

    I’m sorry scratch that – there’s no chance of any sort of AWA assistance on a 141k mile truck. You’re definitely on your own.

    December 29, 2010
  9. ben #

    Help: I have a 2009 Carolla, less than 2 years old. 22k miles, Engine light on. Drives fine though. But I brought the car to the dealer to check. They claim it’s a transmission issue and it won’t be covered by the Warranty. I spoke to the service manager too. My wife used this car for work. What options do we have?

    January 22, 2011
  10. Ben – I’m having a hard time imagining how a 2009 Corolla with a transmission problem wouldn’t be covered – are they arguing abuse?

    If that’s the case, then your best option is to return to the dealer and plead your case.

    January 22, 2011
  11. I have a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid with 87000 miles. The story now is that a valve spring in the engine weakened, came loose, flew around, and damaged many parts in the engine – short block, heads, and so on. Repair cost is $11,000 of which Toyota wants me to “participate” with $2500, the dealer is picking up some of it, and Toyota is paying the rest. Should I just be satisfied with this when I think the engine must have been defective for a part to weaken and break? I imagine this is my AWA, but is there any one I can go to for more assistance? I have been extremely nice to the service manager, and everyone at the dealer has been nice also.

    August 2, 2011
  12. Wendy – If the total cost is $11,000 and you’re only being asked to pay $2,500 – and you’re out of warranty – I think you’ve done quite well already.

    While I understand your point about a defective part, the fact is that it’s been five years and 87k miles since that part was brand new…there’s a point where a warranty has to end, and you’ve passed it, so anything at this point is gravy.

    My suggestion is to see if you can get it to $1500, and/or ask about some sort of extended warranty on the new engine. They might be able to give you that.

    August 2, 2011
  13. Janet #

    My 2006 hybrid Highlander was towed to a Toyota dealership after it broke down and local mechanic was unable to fix. The power steering failed suddenly while I was turning the car in a driveway. The local mechanic told me that it was a common problem and might be covered by a recall.
    The dealership has been telling me for the past week that they do not know what the problem is, only to tell me today that it is covered by a recall and will be fixed by this afternoon. I have been renting a car at my expense for the past week and I am really angry that the dealership took so long to diagnose what is clearly a common problem. Any suggestions for rental reimbursement?

    September 6, 2011
  14. Janet – If I had to guess, I’d say that the dealership was lying to you about looking at your car…they were probably too busy to get to it right away but instead of telling you that they said “we’re still trying to figure it out.”

    My suggestion is to ask yourself if you would have taken the car elsewhere if they had told you it would take a week to get to it…if the answer is yes, then I would write a letter to the dealership’s general manager and send it certified mail detailing exactly what happened.

    BTW, this situation is a good illustration of why I don’t like independent mechanics for late-model cars. They often can’t work on newer vehicles, so when something breaks and they can’t fix it, you find yourself in a situation. Since you don’t have a relationship with a local dealer, you don’t know who is good, and they’re not concerned with your business because you’ve gone elsewhere for all your maintenance.

    I’m a fan of independent mechanics, but only when a car is 8 years old or older…that seems to be the cutoff.

    September 6, 2011
  15. Steve #

    2008 Highlander with Odor coming from Air Conditioner. Took it to dealer who wanted to change evaporator based on TSB 0314-09. Vehicle within TSB VIN but out of Original manufacturers Warranty. They contacted Toyota Extended warranty but they would not cover as it was not a mechanical failure. Ended up cleaning A/C system as recommended but odor still remains.

    TSB clearly defines a design flaw. How can I get help remedying problem. Car is becoming undriveable due to the smell when the AC or Defrosters are used.

    I personally called Toyota Financial Services about my extended warranty and again, only covers mechanical failures. I also called Toyota Customer Service and they tried to explain the TSB is just information for the tech. (Although to me, it clearly states a design defect in certain Highlanders and the replacement of a newly designed evaporator will allievate the problem!)

    March 9, 2012
  16. admin #

    Steve – TSBs don’t automatically trigger warranty coverage, even if they are documentation of a design flaw. This is pretty standard practice in the industry, but I understand your point – if Toyota knows there’s a problem, why not do something to cover it?

    The extended warranty definitely won’t cover it for “odor,” but if the part needed replaced because the A/C wasn’t blowing cold enough, that would be perfectly acceptable…another screwy industry rule that’s also very standard.

    My advice is to try and convince your dealer to find another way to report this problem as a mechanical error. However, considering all the calls that have been made (and all the documentation that has been created), they might be unwilling to try that.

    Good luck to you.

    March 9, 2012
  17. service advisor #

    As a service advisor at a big three dealership i hear all of the complaints on repairs after the warranty has expired. Most complaints are from clients who DECLINE buying a service contract to cover repairs needed OUTSIDE of warranty coverage. Try getting “assistance” on your tv when its out of warranty. Why is it that the car companys are expected to cover repairs for clients who decline additional coverage. Why should someone who says no to coverage be afforded the same coverage as a SMART consumer who purchases a service contract for $1000 – $2000 to cover themself for needed repairs after their WARRANTY PERIOD is over?

    April 19, 2012
  18. admin #

    service advisor – A very fair point. I agree that consumers are unreasonable with their warranty expectations.

    Still, the fact remains that all manufacturers have some sort of AWA program, which should lead us all to conclude that there might be a good reason for taking care of the customer beyond the warranty.

    Thanks for commenting.

    April 20, 2012
  19. Rock parks #

    I have a 2005 f150 with a timing, oil pump, cam problem. This engine has 401 TSB’s on it. First repair shop said new engine, ford dealer says repairable ( about same cost). My questions are 2 fold. First, the sound the engine was making when I took it in, was the exact same sound I took the truck in twice before, while under warranty, and they said “inherent of the model”….guess not, unless its inherent of the model to need a new engine at 88k miles. Second, although not a recalled item, the cam phasers are a know issue. Is there anything I can do, or is my 7 year old $45k truck trash? I’m not getting much help from service reps working on repair cost commissions.

    April 10, 2013
    • Jason Lancaster #

      Short answer: There’s likely not much the dealer can do on your car under Ford’s AWA program, as you’re far outside the factory powertrain warranty.

      However, if you bought the truck new from your local Ford dealer, and if you’ve been taking it to that same dealer for service for the last 7 years, they ought to be able to do something for you with Ford.

      Often times Ford will pay for parts and you have to pay for labor…I agree it’s not ideal, but any discount is helpful.

      Good luck to you.

      April 10, 2013

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