QOTD: Warranty Limits

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

qotd warranty limits

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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7 of 22 comments
  • Art  Vandelay Art Vandelay 2 days ago

    Dont race your new Toyota. If you want to race a Toyota that’s why God gave you the 7MGTE and the 2JZ. Oh my bad…we were hating on the domestics…Toyota would never do that. Like you’d even need a warranty. They run forever. Ask any former GM employee

    • See 4 previous
    • EBFlex EBFlex 7 hours ago

      “If you would go back and read (and get the chip off your shoulder), you will see that I defended Ford at that Bronco writeup. Here's the link. I dare you to re-read it, right now.”

      Be careful showing Art facts. He has a major aversion to anything factual. Facts make him weak. It’s his kryptonite.

  • Fred Fred Yesterday

    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?

  • Jeff S I don't believe gm will die but that it will continue to shrink in product and market share and it will probably be acquired by a foreign manufacturer. I doubt gm lacks funds as it did in 2008 and that they have more than enough cash at hand but gm will not expand as it did in the past and the emphasis is more on profitability and cutting costs to the bone. Making gm a more attractive takeover target and cut costs at the expense of more desirable and reliable products. At the time of Farago's article I was in favor of the Government bailout more to save jobs and suppliers but today I would not be in favor of the bailout. My opinions on gm have changed since 2008 and 2009 and now I really don't care if gm survives or not.
  • Kwik_Shift I was a GM fan boy until it ended in 2013 when I traded in my Avalanche to go over to Nissan.
  • Stuart de Baker I didn't bother to read this article. I'll wait until a definitive headline comes out, and I'll be surprised if Tesla actually produces the Cybertruck. It certainly looks impractical for both snowy and hot sunny weather.
  • Stuart de Baker This is very interesting information. I was in no danger of buying a Tesla. I love my '08 Civic (stick), and it feels just as responsive as when I bought it 11 years ago with 35k on the clock (now 151k), and barring mishaps, I plan to keep it for the next 25 years or so, which would put me into my mid-90s, assuming I live that long. On your information, I will avoid renting Teslas.
  • RHD The only people who would buy this would be those convinced by a website that they are great, and order one sight-unseen. They would have to have be completely out of touch with every form of media for the last year. There might actually be a few of these people, but not very many. They would also have to be completely ignorant of the Hyundai Excel. (Vinfast seems to make the original Excel look like a Camry in comparison.)