Ask The Consumerists: Can Hyundai Drive Over My Warranty?

Dennis wonders, (we’re paraphrasing here):

Gasket blows on 4-year-old car with a 10-year warranty, and Hyundai denies the warranty repair. The garage says that for Hyundai to reconsider their decision, they need a copy of every maintenance and repair record. Are they within their rights to do this? And more importantly, how do I get my car out of the shop?

Ok research monkey and car heads, what’s the inside track on this hubcap of ill-fate?

Backstory, inside.


    “A friend who drives a Hyundai Elantra that she bought new four and half years ago. While driving this past week she had a coolant leak and ultimately the head gasket went south. So having the 10 year/100,000 mile warranty she was told to have use the Hyundai roadside service and had the car towed to the local Hyundai dealer. Initially she was told that the warranty would likely cover the repair but by the next day the service manager or maybe one of the service desk lackeys informed her that Hyundai would not be covering the repair. She was told that she would have to supply maintenance/repair records for the past 4 plus years before Hyundai would reconsider its decision. Of course, then to add insult and injury the service desk lackey curtly responded to her despondent query, “what shall I do?” by telling her she could either get them the paper on the car, cough-up $1500 or get the car off the lot pronto.

    The residue emitted by car salesmen is only exceeded by those working the service area.

    I can kinda see Hyundai’s point: show us that the car has been maintained. On the other hand, do a lot of people actually keep all their service records? Shouldn’t car buyers be told that in order to use the warranty they would have to keep copies of this stuff? I looked through one of the books that came with the car and buried in there was a recommendation to keep service records. But it was listed under tips. Not requirements.

    She called the dealer from whom she originally bought the car – another dealer about 40 miles away – in order to get copies of whatever service paper they had on the car. She was told they only keep records for a couple of years! That seems odd for a dealer that has to field long-term warranty repairs.

    Can car owners really take advantage of a 10 year warranty? I mean really, do car owners really continue to keep detailed records for cars nearing a decade old? Something tells me that the time length (as opposed to the mileage) of these warranties is really bogus. The dealers/manufacturers can easily dismiss warranty claims over things like wear/tear and lack of maintenance.

    Anyone else raised this issue before?

    By the way, this single mom friend of mine is currently driving my car. Any help you could provide will hasten the return of my car!”