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Using Auto Warranty to Get Free Repairs You Are Entitled to Receive

UNDERSTANDING MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE


Manufacturers provide two maintenance schedules: a maintenance schedule for "normal" operation of your car and a maintenance schedule for "severe" operation. These schedules are described in owners' manuals or in maintenance and warranty booklets given to
owners when they purchase their new vehicles. Selecting the wrong maintenance schedule (the terms are often misinterpreted) can result in a manufacturer's denying a warranty claim and causing a car owner to pay for a repair that would have otherwise been paid
for by the manufacturer.

Although a car owner may believe he or she is driving a vehicle under "normal" conditions, that may not be the case. For example, driving a car once a day on an interstate highway at 55 or 60 mph for only two miles is not considered normal operation. It is cate-
gorized as severe operation. Examples of other severe types of operations include driving a car daily in New York City or driving at 60 mph from Fort Lauderdale to Naples every day in temperatures above 90°F.

To be on the safe side, when selecting which maintenance schedule to use, interpret the term "normal operation" as meeting only the following criteria: driving a car primarily (that is, most of the year) for at least 10 miles a day in an environment that is free of dust and industrial emissions at a steady rate of speed above 50 mph in a region where the ambient temperature stays between 32°F and 90°F. To be on the safe side and safeguard your rights
to free repairs, all other primary driving conditions should be considered severe, in which case the car should be serviced according to the severe operation maintenance schedule.

Included in the definition of the term "severe operation" are the following con-
ditions:

  • If most trips are less than 10 miles.
  • If the vehicle is used in stop-and-go traffic that causes the engine to idle or run at low speeds more often than not.
  • If the car is operated when the ambient temperature is consistently below 32°F or above 90°F for more than a month at a time.
  • If the vehicle is driven in a dusty or industrialized region.
  • If the car is used to tow a trailer.

Usually the severe operation maintenance schedule calls for servicing the vehicle at one-half the time/mileage period called for by the normal operation maintenance schedule. Thus, if the normal operation maintenance schedule calls for servicing the engine every six months or 7,500 miles, whichever occurs first, the severe operation maintenance schedule will call for maintenance every three months or 3,750 miles, whichever occurs first.

Again, documentation showing that you have been conscientious about maintaining your car properly can be important when you put in a claim for a free repair under the terms of a warranty. For example, to have the manufacturer replace a camshaft (if this very expensive part should fail) under the warranty, you will probably need written proof that you have changed engine oil every three months or 3,750 miles as called for by the severe maintenance
schedule.

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