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The Hidden Warranty (and secret Chrysler warranties)

The universal "hidden warranty"

Every car sold in the United States comes with a warranty you may not be aware of. It covers a variety of components for up to 100,000 miles. This is the "emissions warranty," designed to ensure that American cars do not pollute as badly as they otherwise would. It places the burden of emission system reliability on the automaker, so they have to find ways to make the car stay "clean" for as long as they can, or pay to fix it. Check your manual or the DOT.

Check your warranty booklet for details. 1993 models, for example, covered not just the obvious emissions-related items, but also the coil, fuel injection, spark plugs, speed and temperature sensors, throttle body, turbocharger, even secondary ignition wires. (Some of these items are only covered to the first replacement interval - e.g. spark plugs are covered until 30,000 miles or so). Catalytic converters on vehicles built after 1995 are warranted for eight years or 80,000 miles.

If your dealer gives you trouble - some claim ignorance and refuse to believe the booklet that comes with the car! - try calling Chrysler at 800 992 1997. If that fails, or for more information than you get with your car, write to:

Director, Field Operation and Support Division (6406J)
EPA
401 M Street Southwest
Washington, DC 20460

There are some restrictions. First, to qualify for the warranty, you may have to fail inspection. Therefore, if your state supplies them, go to a state inspection service rather than your dealer to get the car inspected! Second, you have to be operating the vehicle within the US (maybe or Canada) and within normal parameters. For more, check the book in your glove compartment!

Other laws for your protection

Some states, notably California, have additional laws for your protection. Get to know them. They are in your glove compartment! (Well, they were when the car was new). Details on lemon laws are also provided in your glove compartment (for most states).

Hidden warranties that we know about

Most auto companies will voluntarily fix common problems that are basically due to manufacturing or design defects. Call 800 992 1997 if you live in the US - it can't hurt to try. (Note that Chrysler is not the only company to have a "silent warranty" - it is a widespread practice).

Note: this rather long section has become outdated and has been removed.

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