MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Friends and family alike have told me they're afraid to do their own oil changes or have their favorite neighborhood mechanics rotate their tires. They tell me someone -- usually their auto dealer or a dealer's service manager -- has told them if they do that, the dealer will void their manufacturer's warranties or their extended warranties.
Auto dealers can't do that. The Federal Trade Commission says it's illegal.
"it's illegal for a dealer to deny your warranty coverage simply because you had routine maintenance or repairs performed by someone else," wrote the commission in this blog about auto warranties. "Routine maintenance often includes oil changes, tire rotations, belt replacement, fluid checks and flushes, new brake pads and inspections. Maintenance schedules vary by vehicle make, model and year; the best source of information about routine scheduled maintenance is your owner's manual."
According to the commission, your right to use whomever you want, including yourself, to do routine maintenance on your vehicle is protected under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the law consumer advocates commonly refer to as the federal "lemon law." Under that law, dealers cannot void your warranty or deny coverage due to routine maintenance performed by the vehicle's owner or by another mechanic or service. The law does, however, allow dealers to dictate who performs the repairs covered under the manufacturer's or extended warranty.
You should also know that you have the right to choose between original equipment manufacturer parts (OEM) or after-market parts in repairs covered under warranty or under your insurance policy, as long as you make sure your policy doesn't require after-market parts. Read my investigation on this issue to protect your right to the safest and best quality replacement parts.