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How to choose a great auto repair shop, part 4 of many.Warranty:

I'm of the type that enjoys a quality product and/or service. I'm different than most I suppose. I would rather spend more money on something once, than try to save money and possibly have to get it done/replaced again. Buy once, cry once I guess.

That boils down to warranty in some cases.

That's a tricky word. Warranty. It can be construed into multiple definitions..... But what does it actually mean?

It can mean different things to different companies.

Warranty for us is 3 years or 36,000 miles on most things we do. It's the longest warranty in Houston on BMW repairs. Longer than the dealer! (2 year/unlimited). We cover parts AND labor for our warranty repairs.

We also have 2, 3 or 4 year warranties on batteries, and comes with free roadside assistance for jump starts as well.

Some shops only warranty the parts, and you have to pay for the labor.

Some shops offer a 2 year/24, 2 year/unlimited, 12/12..... or nothing at all.

Extended warranties are even MORE tricky. Remember, at the end of the day- an extended warranty company is in business to make money. They are hedging that your car won't break, or they wont cover the specific repair. We deal with them on a daily basis. If you plan on keeping your car for a while, we suggest finding a QUALITY extended warranty. But, before you buy a warranty- please please please let us look at the contract and explain it to you.

Extended warranties (just like any tricky contract) have specific loopholes they can easily slide through. Just like health care- Pre-existing conditions, and not covering all costs. Some of those examples are:

  • Not covering the shop's full labor rate. This means you'd have to cover the difference of labor charges. Sometimes this can be a vast difference!
  • Not wanting to use the shop's parts. The warranty company is wanting to use the cheapest parts possible to fulfill their obligations on the contract. Warning! Warning!
  • Providing their own parts for the shop to install. If they send the part, the shop cannot warranty the repair (in most cases) and it's the burden of the extended warranty company to re-warranty the part if it fails. You also don't know the quality of the part. Warning! Warning!
  • Paying only the cost of sub quality parts from the local parts house. You'd end up either having to live with a sub quality part, or paying the difference to get an OEM part.
  • Not covering shop supplies. This is on almost every professional shop's invoice. This offsets the shop's consumables that have been used on your car. Typically this is a small percentage with a cap between 30-60 dollars for the total repair. Rags, degreaser, lubricants, oil, power steering fluid, masking tape, chamois, brake clean, floor mats, nuts, bolts, washers, screws, paste, anti-seize, sealants, silicone, washer fluid, brake fluid, coolant, welding consumables, environmental fees, disposals, hazmat fees..... the list goes on and on.
  • Not covering taxes on the parts (or depending on the state you live in) or labor.
  • Applying a deductible to every issue, rather than the entire repair order.
  • Unusually high deductibles (over 500 dollars).
  • No rental coverage.

So, at the end of the day a warranty company can provide you with a peace of mind on car repairs, but don't expect to have them roll the red carpet out and cover everything on a car that's out of manufacturer warranty.

Conversely a suitable independent shop can utilize that extended warranty and combine their own expertise to maximize the usefulness of that contract to keep your car motoring down the road for years to come.

Till, next time-

Alex Noll

Owner of ABR Houston

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