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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone. I just picked up a 2015 Sentra SR last Thursday (traded a Versa) and had a bit of a run-in with the finance guy. The finance guy was pushing the maintenance plan (as they all do) and I informed him that I do my own oil changes and that I would not require the maintenance plan. He then proceeded to tell me that if I perform my own "routine maintenance" (a.k.a. oil changes) I would void the warranty on my car. I then proceeded to tell him that he is wrong, and that the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protects me against such a situation. He then told me I was wrong.....we ended up agreeing to disagree. Although I am not an ASE certified mechanic, I am an aircraft mechanic with 22 years of experience working on heavy aircraft, so changing oil on an automobile is a piece of cake. Furthermore, it gives me the piece of mind that the job was done right, as opposed to some 20 yr old punk at the dealership forgetting to reinstall the oil cap.

Have any of you been told the same thing when purchasing your vehicles? How many of you perform your own maintenance?

For reference, here is information from the Federal Trade Commission website concerning this very topic.
 

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It's against the law to nullify a warranty as you said, if you document the services you perform that's all it takes. Keep receipts, etc.

I have a 2013 Sentra S (to get the 6 speed manual) and love it! I also do my own oil and other maintenance.

Side note, my wife's family lives in Bonaire/Warner Robins and my brother in law works at the AFB as a sheet metal mechanic. :)

roog
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Side note, my wife's family lives in Bonaire/Warner Robins and my brother in law works at the AFB as a sheet metal mechanic. :)

roog
Small world! I am Active Duty and work on the JSTARS aircraft.

I am loving my Sentra as well, albeit only having it for just over a week. I am slightly concerned about the CVT, but Nissan was one of the pioneers in terms of the CVT, so I think it will be fine long term. I bet that 6-speed is fun though. Cheers!
 

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Somewhat old thread, but since this type of discussion comes up often, it is worth clarifying. I try to DIY whatever I can.

First off - there is what is legal, and there is what is reality. Your car can have 100 miles on it, flash a CEL and LEGALLY Nissan has to fix it free (assuming you didn't race it or other abuse). OTOH - they can say "Not a warranty issue, $3K if you want us to replace the bad parts." You would win in court, but it might take you 5 years. The reason they hardly ever do this (apart from fines by the US government) is b/c they don't want customers to boycott Nissan.

Now legally, they can't deny warranty coverage unless you modified the car or failed to perform required maintenance AND they have to show that the failure to perform the required maintenance caused the denied warranty item to fail.

Let's look at oil changes - if you NEVER change the oil in the car, they can't deny warranty coverage for the tail-lights not working b/c you didn't change the oil on schedule. And most engines will probably run for the 60K powertrain warranty if you didn't ever change the oil, so you aren't risking much (but you might have to re-build the engine at 80K miles, so don't skip them like that.

For oil changes - you have three options:

  • Have them done at the dealer that you have maintenance done at and save your receipts. This is your safest bet. It is hard for the dealer to say "We won't warranty this b/c it failed b/c you didn't have the oil changed" and you can say "You changed the oil at 5K on this date, 10K on this date, 15K on this date, 20K on this date, etc."
  • Have the oil changed at independent shops and save your receipts - fairly safe also.
  • Change the oil yourself. It's a good idea to keep a log of dates and mileage that you changed the oil and also to save receipts. This really doesn't prove anything, though. For example - for my 30K mile car, I might have six receipts for oil and filters, but the dealer doesn't know if that oil went into my car or my neighbors car that is out-of-warranty, or if I returned the oil without a receipt the next day and got my money back.

Then again - I don't worry about it too much. I'll do my own maintenance (for the most part) and if a manufacturer denies a claim b/c of it, I'll never buy another of their cars again (assuming it is something major and expensive to fix).

The other controversial issue is modifications such as HID headlights and stereo systems. Here it gets a bit more complicated. For example, let's say you install a 55W fog light bulb and one of the following happens:

  • The foglight housing melts from the heat of the bulb. The dealer will correctly say that the aftermarket bulb caused the housing to melt and will deny the claim and you have to buy a new foglight housing. (I have known people who have put the OEM bulb back in and gotten the housing replaced, but I consider that unethical).
  • The seat stops reclining and the hinge on the seat needs to be replaced. Really, there is unlikely to be a warranty issue with this - but if the dealer claimed the fog light bulb caused the failure and denied the claim, you could win in court, but it might take longer than it is worth.
  • The tricky one - The alternator or the ECM fails. The dealer can claim that the extra load on the electrical system due to the higher-wattage fog light bulb caused the failure so it is not a warranty item. It is unlikely that they would do this, but if they do, all you can do is go to arbitration and say the alternator would have failed anyway - but it is your data against the arbiter and possibly the manufacturer's engineering data. Even if you are right, you will likely lose.

Three final semi-related thoughts on this:

Hyundai/Kia REALLY want you to use THEIR OEM oil filters. They can't LEGALLY require you to do this or deny coverage if you don't, but they did issue a TSB saying that if the car comes in for an engine noise issue and does not have a Hyundia/Kia filter on it, the dealer will change the oil and install a Hyundai/Kia filter and if that solves the problem, the customer will be charged for the oil/filter change.

There was an internet thread that I can't find anymore - I think it involved a Mazda - but a customer drew a red "X" on the bottom of his oil filter and took the car into the dealer for an oil change. When he got the car back, the "X" was still there, indicating that the filter was not changed. He made an issue of it with the local TV news and eventually the dealer ended up providing him and I think his family with free oil changes for their life (not the vehicle's) anywhere he wanted to take the car. While I don't condone the dealer skipping the work that they were being paid for, I think the settlement was a bit excessive b/c even if he had a failure from the filter not being changed (unlikely) he DID have documentation saying that it had been changed - whether it was or not is a different story.

Final point - I don't know if Nissan offers it, but Toyota offers you free maintenance for the first two years or 25K miles, and 5-year/75K maintenance for $980. It seems like a good deal if you are used to older cars, but on a modern car you are getting:
7-oil changes (15 on a Sentra)
2 air filters
3 cabin air filters
15 tire rotations (but NO balancing or alignments)
In most cases, you save money paying for individual services at the dealer, nevermind if you can do the work yourself and often for the air and cabin filters you don't even need tools to change them.
 

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My basic understanding about the act is that the manufacturers must prove first, that the in/correct maintenance job or the aftermarket parts is the cause of the failure, before they can deny warranty.
 

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My basic understanding about the act is that the manufacturers must prove first, that the in/correct maintenance job or the aftermarket parts is the cause of the failure, before they can deny warranty.
Legally, you are correct ...

But look at that in context.

Let's say you installed HID headlights and your ECM failed. Technically, yes, the manufacturer must prove that the failure was caused by the HID's. But if he just says that they were - where does that leave you? You have perhaps a $1400 repair that the dealer won't cover, and then you have to go to court or arbitration, and while the burden of proof is on the dealer, the arbiter or the judge likely won't know whether HID's would be likely to cause an ECM failure, so by default the burden shifts to you to show that the ECM would have failed without you installing HID's (which would be difficult to prove). After several years, you will likely win the judgement and re-coup your $1400, but that isn't much consolation if you don't have the $1400 now adn don't have a driveable car in the mean time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm going to do my own maintenance regardless, but the thing that really bothers me is that the dealer is telling an outright lie to customers in order to sell a maintenance plan that adds upwards of $900 to the car. I wonder how many customers have purchased one of those maintenance plans because he/she was told they are not allowed to do their own maintenance because it will void the warranty. It's deceptive sales tactics, and if you are not knowledgeable of your rights as a customer, it is easy to fall for.
 

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Tiger-heli, I get you bro, going to court is a big hassle and delays repair on your broken car but when...

"the arbiter or the judge likely won't know whether HID's would be likely to cause an ECM failure"

that means, it is no proof that it caused the malfunction so that means, the dealer would still honor the warranty not the other way around.

"so by default the burden shifts to you to show that the ECM would have failed without you installing HID's"

The act doesn't go this way. They'll only try to know if the part failed because of what the owner did or not.
 

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Unless the manufacturer brings in an "expert" to say your mod caused the failure.

As I said - I'm going to DIY and if a warranty claim is wrongly denied b/c of something I did, I will never buy from that manufacturer again.
 

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Unless the manufacturer brings in an "expert" to say your mod caused the failure.
"Expert" or not expert, if that person cannot show any proof/evidence that it cause a failure then you're good. That is how the ACT works, evidence based not "expert" opinion.
 

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On just about any auto forum out there you can find numerous threads about the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. It really all comes down to this. If maintenance or mods are not performed by the dealer you may have to spend a lot of time and money getting a problem resolved.

The statement in the act that says in order to deny warranty coverage a dealer must prove an issue was caused by improper maintenance or installation of non OEM parts. On the surface this sounds good but the question is, prove it to who? Let's get realistic, no matter what legal protection you are supposed to have under the MM act, if a dealer/manufacturer wants to really push it, the issue is going to end up in a court of law. The time and money spent on legal fees, court costs, etc, would most likely far exceed whatever one would have to pay, out of pocket, for the repair. Think about it this way, who has the deepest pockets, you or a car company?

As has been stated before, probably most dealers/manufacturers are not going to want to risk the chance of losing business over a simple warranty dispute, but is it worth the gamble? Just my .02, but I believe the safest bet is to have an authorized dealer perform all scheduled maintenance and also avoid installing any after market accessories until the car is out of warranty.

You can most certainly save a few bucks doing things like oil changes yourself, but considering how many times this has to be done during the warranty period of the average car, are you really going to save that much?

As far as having a third party garage perform something like an oil change, you will most likely save little or no money over the cost of a dealer.
I have found that most of the so called "deals" offered by these garages are scams. For instance you will see an advertised price of $14.95 for an oil change, but when you are presented the bill it has risen to $25. When you ask about the price increase you get, oh you failed to read the fine print about the extra cost for oil disposal and shop rags. I have never done it but it would be interesting to ask them what the price would be if you supplied the shop rags and hauled away the old oil yourself. You can bet they would tell you this is against store policy.
 

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.... When you ask about the price increase you get, oh you failed to read the fine print about the extra cost for oil disposal and shop rags. I have never done it but it would be interesting to ask them what the price would be if you supplied the shop rags and hauled away the old oil yourself. You can bet they would tell you this is against store policy.
All states, thanks to the federal EPA, have fees that you as a customer are mandated to pay for disposal and cleanup when you buy oil, tires, and batteries. You as a consumer must pay these fees.

Here is the Walmart explanation: http://i.walmart.com/i/rb/33756-98567_Content_Auto_Bat-Instal-info.pdf

For example, here is California's explanation about fees added to purchase motor oil. Most if not all have the same laws, again due to EPA regulations.

https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/dms/programs/petroleum/mof.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You can most certainly save a few bucks doing things like oil changes yourself, but considering how many times this has to be done during the warranty period of the average car, are you really going to save that much?
For me it has absolutely nothing to do with saving money. In fact, my oil changes probably cost more due to the high end synthetic oil I use and high performance filters. It's a matter of knowing everything was done correctly, with the kind of care and meticulousness only the owner of the vehicle can provide. The "lube" guys at most dealerships are mostly snot-nosed kids that can't even remember to put your oil cap back on.
 

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For me it has absolutely nothing to do with saving money. In fact, my oil changes probably cost more due to the high end synthetic oil I use and high performance filters. It's a matter of knowing everything was done correctly, with the kind of care and meticulousness only the owner of the vehicle can provide. The "lube" guys at most dealerships are mostly snot-nosed kids that can't even remember to put your oil cap back on.
I rotate my tires for the same reason... I want to make sure the wheel's lug-holes doesn't scrape the lug threads when removing and installing the wheels.
I can also make sure the nuts are torqued equally and with the proper amount using my own torque wrench.

What oil do you use? I use a $22-25 5L jug, 0-20W Mobil1 fuel economy blah blah
 

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I change mine myself, and I run Amsoil synthetic oil. I change it about every 6,000 miles.
And if I had the dealer the me that I HAD to buy that service contract bullshit or my warranty would be void, I would the him to **** off and end the sale right then and there. I'm not scared at all to tell salesman or finance guys to **** off and then leave without buying a vehicle. I've actually done it several times already, lol. One time the salesman followed me all the way out in the parking lot chasinge down BEGGING me to come back and "we can work something out". I said "you had your chance and you guys wanna play games, now you just lost a sale!" The dude was calling my sell phone for a week straight, lol.
 

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I change mine myself, and I run Amsoil synthetic oil. I change it about every 6,000 miles.
And if I had the dealer the me that I HAD to buy that service contract bullshit or my warranty would be void, I would the him to **** off and end the sale right then and there. I'm not scared at all to tell salesman or finance guys to **** off and then leave without buying a vehicle. I've actually done it several times already, lol. One time the salesman followed me all the way out in the parking lot chasinge down BEGGING me to come back and "we can work something out". I said "you had your chance and you guys wanna play games, now you just lost a sale!" The dude was calling my sell phone for a week straight, lol.
I'm not sure if I understand exactly what you are saying, but it sounds like you are stating that if you buy an extended warranty you do not have to worry about it being voided if a problem arises due to performing your own maintenance. I have never heard of such a thing and I have bought a lot of new cars over my 40 years of driving. Plain and simple, if you do your own maintenance you run the risk of voiding the warranty regardless if it's basic or extended.

As a matter of fact when I purchased my 2014 Sentra the salesman said he only told me it was an available option because the dealership required him to. He advised that unless I intended to keep the car way past the standard warranty, it was most likely a waste of money.

As a side note, if you do happen to purchase one, always make sure you buy the manufacturers warranty and not one sold by a third party. Many of these outfits are notorious for going out of business or giving you a hard time when you do need repairs done. Used car dealerships are notorious for pushing these warranties because they get a big cut of the money and have no obligation to help you if you should have issues after the sale.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I rotate my tires for the same reason... I want to make sure the wheel's lug-holes doesn't scrape the lug threads when removing and installing the wheels.
I can also make sure the nuts are torqued equally and with the proper amount using my own torque wrench.

What oil do you use? I use a $22-25 5L jug, 0-20W Mobil1 fuel economy blah blah
Good call on rotating the tires yourself. I do the same. I trust my torque wrench more than the idiots running the lugs on with an impact wrench.

In regard to the oil, the dealership gave me three free oil changes so I haven't done my own on the Sentra yet. My other vehicles are as follows:

2002 Silverado: Mobil 1 High Mileage Full Synthetic 5W30 w/ K&N HP filter
2005 Saturn VUE: Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic 5W30 w/ K&N HP filter
2012 Nissan Quest: Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic 5W30 w/ K&N HP filter

My oil changes typically cost me around $35 for the oil and filter, but the piece of mind I get from knowing the job was done correctly is priceless. Also, I have replaced all of my oil pan drain plugs with Fumoto drain valves....makes draining the oil easy and requires no tools.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Plain and simple, if you do your own maintenance you run the risk of voiding the warranty regardless if it's basic or extended.
You are exactly the type of customer that dealerships salivate over. As I said in my original post, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protects consumers against a car company voiding your warranty. I do my own maintenance because I gain the piece of mind knowing that I took my time and did the job correctly, paying attention to every detail.
 

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You are exactly the type of customer that dealerships salivate over. As I said in my original post, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protects consumers against a car company voiding your warranty. I do my own maintenance because I gain the piece of mind knowing that I took my time and did the job correctly, paying attention to every detail.
Maybe they do "salivate" as you say, over customer's like me, but I imagine they "salivate" even more over owners that do their own warranty maintenance and then have to prove it was done correctly when they come to them for an expensive engine repair. Most likely handing over a pile of receipts for oil and filters you purchased is probably not going to mean much when trying to prove your case.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is tossed around a lot on forums like these by people who have not read or fail to understand what protections it does and does not afford the consumer. Simply put, it is not some kind of "magic wand" that one can wave over the dealer to make them do your bidding when it comes to warranty claims. First off, the main intent of the act is to require manufacturers of ALL products, be it a toaster or a car, to provide clear concise language as to what the details of the warranty are and the responsibility both parties have when a claim is filed. In the case of a disputed claim the only real help it would provide is to give you some legal ground to stand on if you have to take your claim to court.

To each his own, if you want to do your own oil changes because you feel you will do a better job or to save a few bucks then by all means go for it, just keep in mind there is some risk involved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
In the case of a disputed claim the only real help it would provide is to give you some legal ground to stand on if you have to take your claim to court.
Isn't this what I've been saying all along?

To each his own, if you want to do your own oil changes because you feel you will do a better job or to save a few bucks then by all means go for it, just keep in mind there is some risk involved.
Yes, to each his/her own. If you want to keep paying the dealership an exorbitant amount of money for some snot-nosed 19 year old to perform maintenance on your car, then by all means, knock yourself out. You do realize that the "mechanics" that perform what is considered "routine" maintenance do not carry many (if any) certifications, right? As for me, I'll continue to perform my own "routine" maintenance to ensure the job is done correctly and with care.
 
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