What Are Secret Warranties?

Are you wondering about secret warranties? A very small number of vehicle owners know about the existence of this warranty. It is common knowledge for vehicle manufacturers to make free repair programs public, not due to the cost but because they will lose credibility in their products. It also increases their obligation to pay the debt.

The highest number of people who can get this secret warranty read the annual editions of Lemon-Aid. These compensations include peeling away paint, burnt transmissions, and even blow engines. Other people who can also claim this warranty create service bulletins and don’t stop chasing the manufacturer.

The current edition of Lemon-Aid enlightens people with the existence of these warranties. It also features copies and memos which have been kept under wraps. Knowledge of this information allows customers to put an end to getting put off again and again by dealers and brands alike. They can stand up to them and not only demand their rightful repair but get it too without any additional cost. You should get the latest edition of the Lemon-Aid guide to know all about these free repair programs.

Service Bulletin Archived In Lemon-Aid

Lemon-Aid has a complete archive of all the mistakes and service bulletins that are kept from the public. With a physical copy of these bulletins, owners cannot be denied a refund. Manufacturers also use clever tricks to hide the term “Secret warranty.” Honda, for example, uses the term goodwill to hide the fact that it is a secret warranty. GM calls it the same thing and uses special policies, which keep customers in the dark.

Meanwhile, Ford calls them Owner Notification Programmes, and Chrysler likes to write Owner Satisfaction Notifications. Regardless of the term used, the reality is that these warranties are extended ones that apply to used and new vehicles alike.

The Art Of Complaining

The art of complaining is not saying what you want but delivering the message in a tone and manner which compels dealers and manufacturers to accept your argument.

If you have access to the hundreds of bulletins and court decisions that are kept from the public, getting a free repair will be the least of your problems. These can be found compiled in the annual edition of Lemon-Aid New and Used Car and Truck Guides.

Top Ten Auto Problems

  • Chrysler Airbags:
  • Chrysler’s replacement program in 1999 for their minivan airbags exposed one unknown fact that their airbags carry a lifetime warranty. They admitted to it, and it is an argument that can be kept in mind if needed.

Chrysler Catalytic Converters

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency had a deal with Chrysler in which it would contact around 700000 people who owned 1996-1999 models of Jeeps, Dodge Ram, and Dodge Dakota. The notification would be to inform them that the warranty of these vehicle’s catalytic converters would be increased to 10 years or 120,000 miles, whatever comes first.

Along with this, they also had to inform these people about the chance of failure of these converters and remind them that the 80000 mile/8-year warranty still covered them.

The manufacturer also has to establish ways for paying people who had to pay for the repair of their catalytic converters repair themselves.

Chrysler, Ford, GM, And Asian Automaker Automatic Transmissions

Common transmission issues include self-destruct, limp mode, slow and unreliable shifting. A service manager or a bulletin from Lemon-Aid can help you get 50 to 75% coverage of the repair costs.

If you file a claim in court, then you will be able to get a “goodwill” refund of the full amount, alongside a warranty of 7 years/ 160000km. The warranty varies from company to company, being seven or eight years for brands such as Acura, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, and Lexus.

Chrysler, Ford, And GM, Engine Head / Intake Manifold Gaskets

The guide contains many bulletins alongside court cases, which made Ford back down into a corner. The common issues faced are overheating, fogged-up windows, and increased fuel consumption.

Chrysler, Ford, GM, And Asian Automaker Paint Delamination

If the paint on your vehicle starts to turn white and starts peeling, vehicle manufacturers give out a full refund until the seventh year of purchase.

Ford ABS Brakes

The 2003 to 2004 variants of the vans have a goodwill warranty of 10-years.

Ford Fuel Modules

There will be a no-cost replacement for Cougar fuel modules which were manufactured from 1999 to 2002.

Ford Front Springs

Faulty coils on all Aerostar, Focus, Sable, Taurus, and Windstar, which were manufactured during 1992 and 2004, may suddenly break. This may cause tire puncture, which may lead to loss of control. The Safety Improvement Campaign, which the NHTSA handled, said that Ford would replace all broken spring coils free of cost.

This would be valid for as long as ten years, with no relation to mileage. The manufacturer did state that the springs will only be replaced if they break. The claim is valid only if the owner of the vehicle is alive. They did fight back when they were threatened with a lawsuit.

GM Diesel Engines

All owners of the 1994-2000 6.5L diesel-powered trucks are eligible for a no-cost fuel pump replacement for up to 11 years/193000 miles.

GM Inaccurate Fuel Gauges

These are more statements in which the brand admitted to its mistake. The repair can be claimed under their emissions warranty.

GM Minivan Roof Rust

Another statement by GM states that 1997 to 2003 models of their minivans will get a new roof, alongside ten houses of free labor. This will fix all problems related to rust, including rust holes.

GM Oil Leaks

According to a special policy, over 20 years of vehicles, from 1986 to 2006, will be allowed free repairs, according to a special policy. The repair can be asked if there are any oil leaks for up to seven years/160000 km.

GM Turn Signal / Hazard Warning Flashers

Owners of the 1999 to 2002 models of the Alero, Cutlass, Grand Am, and Malibu are eligible for getting free flashers for ten years.

Nissan Altima And Maxima Rear Sub-Frame Rusting

This is a secret! Nissan will fix this problem for free for up to thirteen years! This is valid for the Altima from 2002 to 2005 and the 2004-5 Maxima.

Getting A Paint / Defect Settlement

This settlement is valid for paint problems and any other faults that you believe to be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer. You can get your vehicle checked by a third-party garage to make sure who is to blame for the fault.

  1. If you are sure the fault originated from the company, you should go to the dealer and estimate how much it will cost, which should be signed by him. The next step is to ask for the paint job to be done under the brand’s goodwill warranty. Avoid using the word “secret warranty”. Ford calls it the Owner Dialogue Program. GM has given it the term, Special Policy, and Chrysler calls it goodwill.
  2. You will be met with a refusal or an offer for a 50% discount. It’s rare for dealers to accept the warranty claim right away. If you want to pay the half cost, then make sure it is the exact half of what the dealer gave you the estimate. The reason for that is they increase the prices and say you will be paying 50%, while in reality, you will be paying the full amount.
  3. If the dealer rejects your claim, then you can get an estimate from a third-party garage to show proof that the fault is factory-related.
  4. You can type up a claim letter and email it to the brand and to the dealer too. If you did pay the full amount for the repair, you could send a copy of the bill to the company to get a refund.
  5. Usually, a response should be heard within five days. If you are still waiting for a response, the best approach is to start a court case. You can submit photos of the defect and your letter to the brand, which was not responded to. When a trial date is announced, the lawyer on their side has to appear before the court.

Submitting a claim such as this one does not even require you to hire a lawyer. The cost of submitting is minimal. The trial date is usually a few months after the date of submission. Most cases are settled at the mediation stage with some sort of counter from the other side. The claim might be for the brand to pay two-thirds or three-quarters of the claim amount.

Evidence is of paramount importance to help your case. Whether it be pictures, work orders, dealer bulletins, and the estimates from the third-party garage, all of them will help get you a better and fair deal. Two court judgments can be referred at the hearing.

Other Situations

  • If the dealer repainted the car or truck with the statement that the automaker rejected the request to make the repair free, write a cheque with the words “under protest” written. It must be noted that if you still get the repair done from the dealer, he won’t testify that the problem was factory-related. And you will not have any proof to back up your claim either. He can say that the fault was caused due to improper usage or environmental factors, not covered by the warranty.
  • If the dealer offers you a counter, take the deal and then sue the automaker for it. The fact that they agreed to halve the payment of the repair means that they admitted their mistake. It must also be ensured that the new component should have the same quality as the original one.

The dealer must also be notified that you expect the repair to last for a good amount of time. You should also put a copy of this reminder in the dashboard, so always have it at your disposal if you need it.

Common Secret Warranty Refusals And Responses

1. You Are Too Late

I know I am late, but you were too.. to inform us that I had a warranty at my disposal which I was not made aware of. The service bulletin by Lemon-Aid shows this is your mistake and your responsibility. If I had been told about its existence, then I wouldn’t have been this late. Well, I am willing to accept an offer from you, which may be a bit less than what the warranty allowed me to receive. (It is recommended to settle for at least 3/4th of the pay-out).

2. Mileage Is Too High

There is no way mileage is related to a paint problem. It was your duty to inform me of this problem, and you failed to do so. So, you cannot hold me accountable for this issue. I am willing to hear an offer from your side. (again, don’t accept anything less than the 3/4th amount of the original payout).

3. An Independent Garage Did Work

I had to have the repair done in an emergency as there are no dealers near my residence. The dealer, himself, hid the fact that this warranty existed. I am not the only one with this complaint.

Automakers decide if a repair claim is admissible only because if an authorized mechanic did it or not. I know about all those hundreds of reports of people who were denied a repair just because they visited an independent garage. They will say that they don’t know that the repair was even necessary, and giving payouts for such repairs is unjustified. You can reply that these defects are well known and are widespread. The independent garage is also read to show you that the fault was not due to my usage, but yours. You have to get them to attest to this fact. Owners have also made arguments to get their refunds:

  • The dealer was closed, or it was an emergency.
  • The car was out of its warranty period, and I was not aware that this goodwill warranty existed.
  • The dealer has been uncooperative before.

If you want to go the legal route, you can use the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act if you reside in the United States. By stating this act, you gain an advantage as the warranty, hidden from your knowledge, can substantially affect the original warranty.

The fact that it was never disclosed means the manufacturer was on the wrong side of the law. If the user lives in Canada, then these points can be taken into consideration:

  • The product must be durable enough for daily use. (The Estimated Part Durability chart in the second part of the Lemon-Aid guide can be conferred to).
  • The fact that the warranty was hidden from the consumer makes the automaker’s claim ineligible to go to an independent garage.

It is a rare chance for the court to rule against your motion, as it goes against public interests. This also gives dealers and brands all the more reason to keep these programs secret.

4. Your Vehicle Was Not In The Select Group

We are talking about the defects that came out of your factory. A defect that has a goodwill program allows all owners of similar vehicle defects to claim it.

5. It Doesn’t Apply To Used Vehicles

That is straight-up, not true. The goodwill warranty of all manufacturers’ covers used cars and secondary owners too. Warranties follow the vehicle, not the owner, should be your basis for a claim. Most statutes also reinforce this claim that a warranty does not expire if ownership is transferred. It is better for owners to inform the brand of a change of ownership, so less time is wasted validating the claim.


It is rare for automakers to fight claims for warranty and such. They choose to settle once they have to involve their legal department in the matter. If the case does go to court, make sure to stand your ground and provide as much proof as possible to show their secret warranty’s unfairness. Most lawyers are left speechless, and they make lame excuses about the fact that these sorts of programs are hidden from the public’s view.