QOTD: Warranty Limits

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

We told you the other day about a Toyota owner who is upset a damaged engine won't be covered under warranty after he drove his car on the track.

We've also covered an issue in which Ford Bronco owners complain that a factory feature has damaged their vehicles after off-road use -- and that Ford is denying warranty claims.

The Toyota driver points out that Toyota holds track events for GR86 owners, while the Ford complainants made it known that Ford implies that using the Trail Turn Assist feature in a manner consistent with the directions in the user's manual would not void the warranty. Putting aside legalese and any explicit wording in an owner's manual, the Toyota GR86 is marketed as a track-ready car and the Bronco is marketed as an off-roader. Philosophically speaking, should OEMs deny warranty claims when a vehicle is used for a purpose it's designed for?

I realize there's probably a "know it when you see it" standard here. A lot of crossover owners could take their vehicles to a difficult off-road trail, experience damage, and then cry foul, claiming their soft-roader SUVs are marketed using commercials that show folks playing in the outdoors. Similarly, anyone who owns a slightly sporty vehicle could argue that ads showing cars drifting on track means their ride can handle a few hot laps of Road America or Laguna Seca when it clearly cannot.

But, of course, some vehicles are more equipped than others for heavy-duty off-road or track use, and it's generally clear to any reasonable observer that there's a difference between sports cars that can easily handle a curvy road and sports cars that are track-ready. And a difference between crossover SUVs that can take you over some two-track to a trailhead and SUVs that can actually handle the Rubicon.

If it's not clear, well, automakers use plenty of legal copy to cover their butts.

So if the owner of say, a Kia Seltos tried to fight a warranty claim after damaging their car while trying to rock climb in Moab, we'd all side with the automaker. But when it's the Ford Bronco, which is actually built to be able to handle difficult off-road trails and even offers features that are meant to make off-roading easier, shouldn't the OEM be willing to take accountability when those features seemingly cause damage during off-roading?

Similarly, if the car is meant to be able to lap a track without any serious modifications, shouldn't the OEM pony up if the equipment fails, and it's not obviously the driver's fault? If the GR86 driver had blown his engine by failure to shift, OK, fine, that's on him. But if his driving was basically competent and he did nothing to damage the engine, he might have a valid claim.

I'll finish this by noting that even cars designed to go on track or off-road from the factory do have limits. But it doesn't seem like basic off-roading or a standard "run what you brung" track day would be beyond the ability of these cars.

What say you?

Sound off below.

[Image: Eakrin Rasadonyindee/Shutterstock.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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3 of 27 comments
  • Tassos Tassos on May 27, 2023

    I hate all kinds of insurance, and I am far better off with SELF INSURANCE. Only crooks benefit from insurance.

    WARRANTY is just another form of insurance, but one that most fools that get it think it is FREE. IT SURE AS HELL IS NOT. This is why you used to pay so much more for a new than for a used car (with notable exceptions for rare exotics, yes, I know). Oh, and if you have one ounce of brains (and you USE it) you would see that WARRANTY COMPANIES MAKE PROFITS TOO. OFF YOU, STUPID, if you buy their crappy policies.

    I have a colleague who buys certified used luxury SUVs, Lexi and Mercs. The last time he shelled out another $5,000 to buy some stupid extended warranty. Whadda you know, a few months later he had a BIG repair bill. Guess what his precious extended warranty covered: N O T H I N G!

    SO if you are not destitute, SELF INSURANCE is best. and NO WARRANTIES. Pay only when you HAVE TO.

    And if you are smart enough to chose TRULY reliable cars, you will SELDOM have to.

    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on May 30, 2023

      "And if you are smart enough to chose TRULY reliable cars, you will SELDOM have to."

      This coming from a guy who owns Mercedes products and is a Tesla fan boy.

  • Fred Fred on May 27, 2023

    I've only skimmed these stories so I may have missed it, but has anyone read their warranty? I'm sure racing is listed as not approved. How about actual race cars sold by the factory?

  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.