Mazda RX-7 Lemon Site
Top Ten Myths re: Warranties and Lemon Law
Let me begin by saying I ain't no damn lawyer and none helped in the
preparation of this site. Therefore, what you're getting is personal information
gleaned from one case tried in the state of California. Your mileage may vary.
- 1. The manufacturer can void my warranty because I put
modifications on my car.
- Nope. You can do whatever you want to the car and your warranty cannot be
wholesale voided. You will cause yourself grief when dealing with your dealer
and you will probably be subjected to increased scrutiny but you can't have your
warranty voided. What can happen is that the manufacturer can decline to fix a
problem if they can prove that your modification caused it. Remember though,
the burden of proof is on them. Figure that a burned up smog pump on a 3rd gen
RX-7 with an HKS powerflow doesn't stand a chance of getting fixed under
warranty since the powerflow pulls hot air into the pump and burns them out. On
the other hand, just because you put on an HKS cat-back muffler doesn't mean
your blown airpump shouldn't be fixed under warranty. Tip: don't give your
dealer any unnecessary reasons to hassle you. Lose the big Peter Farrell decals
and the HKS license plate frame - they're ugly anyway.
- 2. The manufacturer can void my warranty because I race my car.
- Nope. Again, you can drive your car however you want to and your warranty
cannot be wholesale voided. Again, you will cause yourself grief when dealing
with your dealer and you will probably be subjected to increased scrutiny but
you can't have your warranty voided. What can happen is that the manufacturer
can decline to fix problems that happen with your car if they can prove that
your driving habits or treatment of the car caused them. Remember though, the
burden of proof is on them. Tip: keeping your car in top notch condition will
always help you in working with your vehicle manufacturer.
- 3. The warranty on a car goes into effect
from the date and mileage when the car is first "put into service."
- This is a fast one Mazda has tried to pull on a couple owners that I know,
including myself. If you buy a "demonstrator" (a car that had been
driven my the manufacturer or dealer employees) it probably "went into
service" before your purchase date. But, if the car is sold to you as a
new car, not a used one (i.e., it had never been registered with the DMV) then
the warranty begins at the date and mileage of your purchase, not when the
manufacturer started driving it. Specifically, I can provide reference to the
California Vehicle Code dealing with mileage and warranty:
28052. New motor vehicle warranty: mileage
If a manufacturer, distributor,
or dealer of a new motor vehicle makes any warranty to the purchaser of, and
with respect to, a new motor vehicle which is based on the amount of miles that
the motor vehicle is driven, only those miles which the motor vehicle has been
driven on and after the date that the motor vehicle has first been sold as new
to the purchaser shall be considered for the purposes of the warranty.
mileage indicated upon the odometer of the motor vehicle on the date that the
motor vehicle is first sold as new to the purchaser shall, for the puposes of
the warranty, be the mileage upon which the warranty shall commence.
in this section shall be construed to relieve any person of any criminal
punishment to which he would otherwise be subject under Section 28051.
provisions of this section shall apply only to motor vehicles which are sold on
or after the effective date of this section. (Added by Stats.1969, c. 111,
p. 250. section 2.)
- 4. The Lemon Law only protects a consumer for the first year or 10,000
- I'm sure that these consumer protection laws vary from state to state, but
in California the law is very clear cut about problems during this period and
less clear about problems later on but that doesn't mean it can't apply. If you
have four occurrences of the same problem in the first year or 10,000 miles you
will win. In my case many of my problems started after this period but they
were so numerous that it didn't matter, the law still applied.
- 5. My car has to be broken down or unsafe in order to file a Lemon Law
- Again, I'm sure that these consumer protection laws vary from state to
state, but in California you have to prove that the use was substantially
impaired. This can simply mean that it has been to the dealer a lot.
- 6. The dealer is just as happy doing work to my car under warranty as
if I pay.
- Hah. Here's my understanding (from talking to a dealer technician about it): Manufacturers (and extended warranty companies) pay crappy flat rates
for repairs, usually about $20/hour. You pay shop rates (about $40/hour) on a
time and materials basis. Worse, manufacturers pay dealer technicians based on
rates for specific repairs (read: parts replacements). This means that the
dealer isn't incented to perform comprehensive diagnostic check to your car in
an attempt to find the real cause of a problem the first time. It is much more
lucrative to just keep changing parts until the problem goes away (or you do).
Of course, many dealers want their customers to be happy so this is a slight
exaggeration but keep in mind, the dealer would much rather have you pay than
the manufacturer. Tip: Watch out for those fixed price services, such as a
30,000 mile service for $300. These are what the dealer calls "gravy jobs"
and they throw them to technicians who need some cash. The reason they are
called gravy jobs is that the amount of work required is minimal - there is
usually a lot of check this, look at that, inspect this stuff. Technicians do
that anyway because they want to find problems that might make your car unsafe
or result in additional service revenue. Paying for that is just plain silly.
Not as silly as paying for washer fluid, gas additive, battery terminal pads,
and other ridiculous high-markup items that are often thrown in, but still
- 7. Recommended service intervals are just recommendations, I can blow
- Not if you ever want to fight any battles against your manufacturer. It is
of the up most importance that you can justify that you've taken good care of
your vehicle. At the minimum that requires meeting ALL of the manufacturer's
recommended service intervals. I suppose that the manufacturer would have to
prove that your missed service caused the problem but it isn't worth the hassle
- just do it. Tip: it is even better if you do it more often and if you always
have service done by the dealer. I did oil changes every 2,500 miles at the
dealer, rather than every 5,000 miles as suggested. This helped to show that I
take good care of my cars.
- 8.-10. I'm sure there are others that I'll think of later.
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All of the information on these pages is to my knowledge either an accurate
summary of events and facts or is my opinion. It doesn't represent the views of
Mazda (duh), my employer, my Internet service provider, or anyone else.