Know Your Rights - Note the warranty for defective vehicle parts

IN every purchase of a motor vehicle, a term is built into the sale on warranty claims given by the vehicle manufacturer against defective parts.

Within a time frame, from the date of purchase and/or the distance travelled by the vehicle, parts will be replaced by the vehicle manufacturer free of cost subject to terms in the certificate of warranty. Some of the terms include the routine service of the vehicle and the timely change of consumables like engine oil, brake fluid and automatic transmission fluid or parts, which are subject to wear and tear under normal use.

Different suppliers of accessories may give separate and independent warranties for particular parts, which form a part and are fixed to the vehicle like engine parts, body paint and accessories. In some cases, the warranty period may be extended subject to payment in advance or service packages included in the sale.

Many buyers send their vehicles to workshops to install new or additional accessories, modify or to replace functional parts or systems, under the impression that it may improve the "performance" of the vehicle from that of the original.

Some may be persuaded to do so by friends or workshop operators under the belief or persuasion that it is in order. The hard reality is known or surfaces only when there is an accident or an attempt is made to file a claim for defective parts.

The buyer must be aware that the warranty for parts included in the sale of the motor vehicle is only valid if the buyer has not breached any condition in the sale relating to the validity of the warranty. In most cases, the moment the vehicle's parts and accessories are replaced or modified without the approval of the vehicle manufacturer, the warranty is no longer valid and enforceable.

The same applies to the failure to send the vehicle to be serviced and checked at specified times, either by distance travelled or time lapse at specified workshops authorised by the vehicle manufacturer.

These workshops have trained mechanics, tools and genuine original spare parts for use in the repair and replacement of the defective or non-functional parts. This is discovered when the vehicle encounters major problems relating to its ability to perform and/or performance expectations.

There are also various categories of spare parts in the market. There are the original parts, parts on "original equipment manufacturer" basis and "imitation parts", which are made by manufacturers that have no link with the vehicle manufacturer.

There are certain parts that are re-conditioned or re-manufactured or repaired to be re-used. Depending on budget constraints, the owner has a choice of different categories of vehicle spare or replacement parts.

Some parts are used in almost every vehicle of the same engine capacity like spark plugs, windscreen wipers, radiator caps, batteries and are normally universally usable unless that part is specifically designed for the particular model. It must be noted that one has to be aware of the specifications set by the vehicle manufacturer.

So the next time you send your vehicle for servicing, you ought to have at the back of your mind what type of parts you intend to use and the costs involved and whether it will affect the warranty conditions.

It is better to send the vehicle to authorised workshops so that the warranty is intact.

Even if there is a major fault, it is easier to trace and identify the source of the problem rather than play a guessing game through trial and error diagnosis. There is also no worry of the quality of the spare parts used as it is original.

When buying a second-hand vehicle, service records are important. It provides an account of whether the vehicle had been properly maintained and serviced by the previous owner(s). Such treatment of the vehicle will affect its market value and attractiveness to potential buyers.

Generally, people in the finance industry who provide financing to buyers use the year of make as a basis to value the vehicle. Little attention is paid to the condition of the vehicle. The type of use by previous owner(s), the frequency of servicing and whether worn-out parts had been changed are all important parameters to consider.

The writer, formerly a banker, is a lawyer. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com