The Fight for a Car Dealer’s Warranty Refund

The ABC News Fixer's tips for when you should consider an extended warranty.

BySTEPHANIE ZIMMERMANN
May 11, 2016, 1:06 PM
PHOTO: Toyota is investing $1 billion in artificial intelligence.
Toyota is investing $1 billion in artificial intelligence.
Carla Gottgens/Getty Images

THE ABC NEWS FIXER— -- Dear ABC News Fixer: I paid my Toyota dealer for a special extended warranty that lasted until Jan. 5, 2015. Under terms of this dealership warranty, if I didn’t use it for repairs before the expiration date or 70,000 miles, I would be eligible for a refund.

When I applied for the refund, the dealership wanted several documents. Two documents were missing, but the dealership had those in their files and verified this with me. They said they were ready to process my claim.

That was last summer. I never got the check, so I tried to contact them again, thinking they might have sent it to my old address. The email address I had for them doesn’t work, and no one returns my calls.

- Kay Gaviglio, Watsonville, Calif.

Got a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

Dear Kay: We were happy to shake loose this refund. We went straight to Toyota’s U.S. corporate offices and asked if they could find someone to contact the dealer and look into this. It took a little while, but eventually you did get that refund – a $1,999 check that came directly from the dealership.

Toyota spokeswoman Amanda Rice told us they were glad to help and recommended that any customer having an issue with a warranty refund call the corporate customer service line at (800) 331-4331.

As for the refund, we’re glad it worked out for you. In practice, many of these warranty refund deals don’t pay out, because the car ends up needing a repair or the car owner forgets to file for the refund. So good for you!Here’s some more advice for people considering whether to buy an extended warranty for their car:

- Don’t rush. Extended warranties are a moneymaker for the car dealer and they’re often pushed at the time of sale. But you don’t need to decide right away. Shop around and compare prices and coverage.

- If you buy and sell your cars frequently, forget the extended warranty. There’s no need, if you don’t think you’ll keep the car more than three or four years.

- Consider your finances. If your car has a really expensive problem, could you cover it with savings? If you have enough of a cushion, and especially if you’re buying a new, reliable car, don’t worry about getting an extended service plan.

- With any warranty, read all the terms. What types of repairs are covered, and will it cover wear-and-tear as well as mechanical failure? Will you need to perform routine maintenance to keep the warranty in effect, and is there a deductible?

- Understand whether the warranty is through the manufacturer, dealership or an outside “aftermarket” company. You don’t want to pay up front for a warranty only to find there are limitations on who can perform a repair -- or worse, that the company is no longer around.

- The ABC News Fixer

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