Legal questions are always a bit of a quandary. Especially when it comes to your car. All you want it to do is take you from A to B. But every now and again, you have to take your four wheels to a garage. This is usually when the vehicle is due an inspection or needs repairs. At this point, many drivers are confronted with a dilemma: “What happens to my new vehicle warranty if I take my car to an independent workshop instead of an authorised one?”
Often, uncertainty sets in much earlier. This is because terms like warranty, implied warranty and goodwill are often used interchangeably. Let’s take a closer look at what these terms actually mean.
First of all there is the so-called implied warranty, or to give it its proper legal name: liability for material defects. If someone buys a car and it later turns out that there was a defect at the time of purchase, the buyer can make a claim based on the implied warranty. After all, in a purchase agreement, it is the duty of the seller to make sure that the vehicle is free of defects when it changes hands. If there is something wrong with the vehicle, the buyer can demand rectification.
The implied warranties period for new vehicles is two years. For used vehicles, the dealer can shorten this period to one year. Within the first six months after the sale, the seller must prove that the defect was not present at the time of purchase. After this period, this burden of proof lies with the buyer. They must prove that the defect was present at the time they purchased the vehicle.
Warranty for new vehicles
Unlike an implied warranty, the term warranty refers to a voluntary, contractual service issued to the buyer by the guarantor, often the manufacturer.
Goodwill is a completely voluntary service that the manufacturer can grant even after the warranty period has elapsed. This is usually turned down, however, if previous work on the car “was not carried out exclusively in an authorised workshop”, according to the ADAC.
Authorised or independent workshop?
During the two-year implied warranty period, any repairs carried out free of charge must be performed by the seller. In most cases, this means at an authorised workshop. This is also the case for any repairs made free of charge under the manufacturer’s warranty.
According to the ADAC, all other repairs can be carried out by an independent workshop: “This is based on an EU-wide regulation known as the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation, which states that manufacturers must allow customers to have their vehicle inspected or repaired at an independent workshop, including during the warranty period, provided that the workshop operates in line with the manufacturer’s specifications”. This means that the manufacturer cannot refuse warranty claims because work was performed by an independent workshop.
Extra caution for leased cars and insurance claims
Leased vehicles are owned by the leasing company. The leasing company can therefore dictate where the vehicle must undergo repairs or maintenance. According to the German Association of Vehicle Parts Traders (GVA), the contracts of some insurance providers contain clauses that prescribe where the driver must take their vehicle in the event of an own-damage claim. By contrast, the driver is not bound to a specific workshop in the case of third party claims. Since the repairs are paid for by the other party’s insurance, the claimant can generally choose any workshop.