Avoid Warranty Worries When Your Auto Maker Goes Under

Many owners still remember the first day they drove their favorite Saturn off the lot. As proud new car owners, most drivers couldn’t image a day when their car – or the entire Saturn brand, for that matter – would no longer be available.

Just a few short years ago, however, the 2009 economic bailout was a game changer in the auto world. General Motors retired or sold several of its brands, including Saturn, Saab, Pontiac, and Hummer. Now, as owners of discontinued cars, many drivers are faced with a key question: “How do I handle my vehicle warranty and make repairs?”

Most new cars come equipped with a vehicle warranty. This is a guarantee stating that the vehicle will remain in good working condition for a fixed number of miles or amount of time. Should a qualified repair or part replacement be necessary during that time, the warranty will cover the cost. However, managing vehicle warranties and repairs on discontinued cars can be confusing. Here’s what you need to know.

What happens to my warranty if my car is discontinued?

If your car is simply discontinued, the warranty will transfer to the parent company. For example, owners of the Saturn Sky roadster can still receive maintenance through General Motors, home to the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC vehicles. If the brand is sold to another company, the warranty will also transfer.

If my car is discontinued, will I still be able to find spare parts?

One of the biggest challenges and frustrations that owners face with discontinued cars is locating spare parts. For some cars, this challenge is minimized due to the sharing of parts between different brands. For example, Saturn used interchangeable parts with other GM brands. In the case of Saturn owners, every GM dealer still has access to the Saturn manuals, along with trained technicians who are able to perform maintenance. Parts can continue to come from GM through its parts ordering system.

What should I do if my car is under warranty and needs a repair?

If your car is still under warranty and needs repair, take it to your local dealership. Even though your car is no longer manufactured, popular stock parts may continue to be produced for the length of your warranty period. If at all possible, you will only want to use stock parts (also known as OEM or Original Equipment Parts) for servicing. Using parts from a third-party manufacturer may void your warranty.

Will I be able to locate spare parts made by my car’s manufacturer?

Many dealerships will continue to carry OEM parts for several years as the discontinued cars are phased out, especially for the most popular models. Unfortunately, as inventory dwindles for a popular part, the price for these parts can skyrocket. Parts that are shared with other vehicles, like an engine, transmission, brakes or air conditioning systems, will be easier to replace. The challenge, however, is replacing the “oddball” part, like a specialty seat cover or door panel.

What if I can’t find a spare part made by my car’s manufacturer?

When OEM parts are no longer available or become too costly, your best bet is to check with a knowledgeable third-party mechanic. Many spare parts after-markets may also develop to close the gap. Remember, using non-OEM parts can void your warranty, so keep this in mind when making any servicing decisions.