From can openers to new cars, most products come with warranties. These contracts serve as promises from the manufacturers that purchases will be free from defects in materials or workmanship, usually for a set period of time.
However, consumers should note that strict conditions often apply to warranties. If you don’t follow the rules, your warranty could be void and the manufacturer won’t have any obligation to make good on its promise.
Manufacturers often try to sell consumers extended warranties featuring longer terms than the standard product warranties.
Rob Drury, executive director of The Association of Christian Financial Advisors, notes that consumers don’t always understand what extended warranties cover. Additionally, they might not realize that there are out-of-pocket expenses and fees associated with using a particular warranty.
“Consumer product extended warranties are nothing more than insurance policies,” said Drury. “Other than financial planning products (life, disability, annuities, etc.), the rule on whether or not to choose an insurance product is fairly simple: insure only against the risks that one cannot afford not to insure…. If a warranty doesn’t adequately cover the risk to the necessary degree, having it is pointless.”
A warranty can be your protection in case a product is defective. However, you need to make sure you aren’t taking steps that could render your warranty invalid. Here are 11 mistakes you’re making that void manufacturer warranties.
1. You Used an Unapproved Accessory
When you buy a new cell phone, you will likely want to purchase a new case to protect and personalize it. However, you should be aware that the Apple iPhone warranty doesn’t cover damage caused by non-Apple accessories or chargers.
2. You Were Clumsy or Careless
Most warranties cover only those errors attributed to the manufacturer, such as defects in materials and workmanship. They don’t apply to ordinary wear and tear or abuse on the part of the user. If you drop your Hamilton Beach blender while you’re mixing margaritas, for example, the warranty won’t save you when the glass shatters.
3. You Soiled a Mattress
Subjecting products like mattresses to harsh conditions can result in the warranties being voided. According to the Serta mattress warranty, the company will not replace a defective product if it’s also in “unsanitary” condition due to the presence of blood or other bodily fluids, infestations or cleaning fluids.
Further, if your mattress is in really bad shape, Serta’s personnel might refuse even to inspect it.
4. Your Warranty Period Expired
If your product breaks down after the warranty period expires, the manufacturer is under no obligation to replace it. Warranties are generally measured from either the date you bought the product or the date it was installed, and the term length varies by company. While Apple products come with a one-year warranty, a Theorie-brand flat iron features a lifetime guarantee against defective materials or workmanship.
For best results, pay careful attention to the warranty length and don’t wait to request replacement products for those that break down.
5. You Bought From an Unauthorized Dealer
Many people enjoy finding bargains on eBay or other online sales sites, where goods are sold for less than their retail prices. However, if you buy from a dealer that the manufacturer hasn’t expressly permitted to sell its products, you could be out of luck when your “bargain” malfunctions.
For example, an OMEGA watch warranty is valid only if “the warranty certificate is dated, fully and correctly completed and stamped by an official OMEGA dealer,” according to the company website. If your watch doesn’t come with the proper certificate, you might have little recourse when it stops ticking.
6. You’re Not the Original Purchaser
Warranties are generally available only to the original buyer or end-user and might not be transferable to other owners. As a result, if you buy a used Nikon camera from the original owner, the warranty likely won’t transfer to you.
On the other hand, warranty transfer options are often available for major household appliances, such as air conditioners. The HVAC manufacturer Trane, for example, offers a warranty transfer option that customers can purchase. This feature is valuable for homeowners looking to sell their properties — and transfer the remaining terms of their warranties to the new occupants.
7. You Used It for the Wrong Purpose
People tend to buy products with clear purposes for them in mind: you drive a car, watch a television and shampoo your hair. However, it’s important to note that most warranties will be voided if products are used for other purposes.
For example, the warranties for LG washers and dryers are voided if customers don’t use them for their normal purposes. So, if you wash something other than clothes, or try to whip up dinner in your dryer, you’ll almost certainly invalidate your warranty.
8. You Lost the Sales Receipt
To make a successful warranty claim, you will likely need proof of your original purchase date. For Whirlpool refrigerators and many other home appliances, a dated sales receipt is sufficient.
While manufacturers often encourage buyers to register their purchases online, according to Consumer Reports, it’s rare that a failure to register a product will invalidate its warranty.
9. You Tried to Install or Fix It Yourself
When you buy a major household appliance, you shouldn’t try to save money by installing it yourself, if you’re not a trained professional. For example, the warranty for a Trane air conditioner or heater says it must be “installed, operated and maintained by a licensed HVAC service provider.”
Going the DIY route now could leave you on the hook for major repair costs down the line.
10. You Didn’t Read the Owner’s Manual
Many consumers ignore the hundreds of pages of instructions included in their owners’ manuals, mistakenly believing that they know exactly how to use their products. However, the warranty for a Kenmore gas hot water heater specifies that users must follow not only all instructions in the manual, but also any applicable local plumbing codes.
Failing to follow instructions could invalidate your warranty or, worse, cause property damage and even personal injuries to you or a loved one.
11. You Violated the Terms of the Warranty
If you want to extend the life of your products, be sure to read the terms of the warranty carefully. According to Drury, manufacturers can void product warranties for any infractions of their terms. Violating the terms of a warranty is especially problematic when it comes to car maintenance costs.
Said Drury, “The warranty of a car engine, for example, can be voided if the owner cannot provide documentation of recommended oil changes, or if there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the car was driven at a higher than recommended RPM.”
To keep your warranties in effect, make sure you always read the fine print.