In contract law, a warranty is the guarantee or promise to do something or that something is what the promiser says it is during a transaction. For car purchases, a warranty usually includes a guarantee that the car being bought operates the way a reasonable consumer would expect.

In the event that the car breaks down, the warranty guarantees that the seller will repair a poor functioning car or in some cases refund the buyer’s money. Some car warranties provide a written guarantee of the car’s performance while others are guaranteed by the law regardless if there is a written guarantee.

Car warranties and the laws that govern them were created to protect consumers from fraudulent or defective car purchases.

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How Does a Warranty Work?

The following are some warranties that protect consumers in car purchases.

  1. Express warranties can be created via a writing or orally. Because car sales can involve such warranties in the form of commercials or other advertisements, a seller’s failure to comply with the promise they advertised can result in liability.
  2. Implied warranties are unwritten guarantees that the product you purchased meet a certain standard. Even if there is no discussion about whether the new car you bought works the way it ought to operate, the law requires the seller to only sell vehicles that are functioning the way car buyers expect them to do so.
  3. Warranty of merchantability is a form of implied warranties. This warranty means the car being sold is operational for use as the buyer intended to use it. So, if you leave the lot and the car suddenly breaks down for no reason, the seller has likely violated the warranty and must repair or compensate the buyer. However, if a seller advertises or informs the buyer that the vehicle is being sold “as is” or is damaged then there is no such warranty because the buyer should know that the vehicle is not operating the way regular vehicles do.
  4. Warranty of fitness for a particular purpose is another form of implied warranties. This warranty relates to a vehicle that has been advertised or promised to meet some sort of special purpose like four-wheel drive or hauling cargo. If a seller promises some sort of specific fitness and the vehicle fails to perform that function then the seller has violated the warranty of fitness.

What Happens If the Warranty is Breached?

Most warranties have time limitations and require the consumer or buyer to use and maintain the vehicle’s condition in a reasonable manner. If the consumer has used the vehicle properly and a problem occurs that is the result of a manufacturer defect or some error on the part of the seller than the consumer is entitled to what the warranty provided.

Sometimes this can be in the form of a repair by the manufacturer and sometimes it can be in the form of damages to compensate the buyer. Consumers who have been unsuccessful in resolving the problem with the seller can report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission and their local consumer protection agency.

Where Can I Get Legal Assistance for a Car Warranty Issue?

An unexpected repair makes a car warranty all the more important. But if the warrant is defective and you find yourself paying the full price, what can you do? If you believe that your warranty should still be effective and have coverage, then contact a products and services lawyer near you to find out what you can do to reclaim your rights.