Have our lost our ability to stand up for our warranty rights?

There seems to be a LOT of posts lately by owners of cars still under warranty asking what is wrong with their cars. Has anyone else noticed this?

Have car owners become so meek that they cannot insist that the dealer make the car right while under warranty? Or are they just too lazy to read their warranty terms?

Well, I guess some of those warranty terms are in the owners manual or supplements included with the manual, and we see a LOT of the “read your manual type posts”

So what does the populace think? Wimp? or lazy? Or other?


I can’t speak for anyone else, but when you combine questions such as, “what do I do about this problem with my fully-warrantied new-ish vehicle”, along with “how do I turn on the audio system on my new-ish vehicle”, and “what does this switch do on my new-ish vehicle”, as well as “how often do I have to change the oil of my new-ish vehicle”, I have to conclude that most of the Owner’s Manuals are still sitting–undisturbed, in their plastic overwrap–in glove compartments, rather than being taken out and read.

Yes, some of these folks may be too timid to approach the powers-that-be at the dealership or at corporate headquarters, but I have to think that this is mostly one more manifestation of people who fail to even attempt to read the Owner’s Manual, and/or the details of their warranty, and/or the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.


Twenty years ago the gentleman who was head of GM’s service division stated that GM had practically given up all hope of getting anyone to read the owners manuals.

To me it’s laziness, can’t be bothered, don’t have time, or the Alfred E. Neuman defense; “What. Me worry?”.

Until it’s time to worry… :wink:


And, then we have the defensive posture of people who have failed to read the manuals that are sitting in their glove compartment. You may recall a woman (from Maine, IIRC) who had questions regarding her Suzuki. When she was advised to read the Owner’s Manual, she stated, “ONLY an engineer could understand those owner’s manuals”. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

While I will grant that they are usually not candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Owner’s Manuals are intentionally written on the 8th grade reading level, so I found that woman’s rebuttal to be either ridiculous or graphic evidence of a really poor reading level.

Should manufacturers dumb-down their manuals to… let’s say… the 5th grade reading level?


Years ago I worked for an outboard motor manufacturer, and often involved in administering warranty problems and claims…

In those days owners were often too adamant in requesting that warranty coverage applied and we had to establish if the claims were valid. Often they involved negligence or abuse, and we had to decline.

With my first new car, a 1965 Dodge Dart, the front U-joint on the driveshaft got loose at 49,950 miles! Those were the first cars with a 50,000 mile powertrain warranty.

I took it into the dealer, manual in hand and asked them to verify my claim by taking a very short test drive. There was no problem getting the repair done free.

To comment on the post, it’s easier for our readers to just hit the keyboard and get an opinion from us than take the effort to actually read the owner’s manuals to see if the item is covered.

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I can tell you from my years at the college that there are a whole lot of people graduating from high school whose reading comprehension level is below what I would consider eight-grade. I know we’ve had this debate before, but IMHO our primary and secondary educational system nationwide are derelict in their responsibilities. Reading, writing, math and science education at those levels is abysmal.

Should the manuals be “dumbed down” to 5th grade level? I doubt that it would do any good. The root of the problem is not in the way the manuals are written. It’s in our education systems.

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Well, then the problem is not of recent origin, because I recall that woman with the Suzuki being middle-aged, and her post dates back at least 10 years.

I think that–in reality–we have always had people who did not pay attention in school, and who may have been granted a diploma without being qualified. Speaking as somebody who began his teaching career in 1969, I can tell you that a fairly large percentage of the students who we were graduating in the '60s, '70s, & '80s would have been unable to pass the state graduation exams that my state instituted in the '90s, and those exams have become even more stringent in recent years.


I think we’re all pretty much gun-shy in America b/c of being ripped off by corporations of all sorts using vague & ambiguous wording in their “promises” and “agreements”. Here in computer-land it shows up in the bizarre wording of the “terms of service” agreements we are so often presented with. So the posters with in-warranty car problems are coming here for a heads-up on what kind of corporate tricks to expect, what the options are available to bypass those tricks, etc, before approaching the dealership. They don’t want to go in without some ideas for counter-measures.

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Not sure that solves anything when schools in the UK are changing their classroom analog clocks to digital ones because the students cannot READ the analog ones.

And how many people admit that they never read, don’t like to and won’t. News sites on the internet start running videos immediately upon landing on the site (very annoying to me) because people won’t read 10 paragraphs of text.

What I heard was the students thought it would be easier to monitor how long it was taking them to complete their specialized tests for advancing to the next grade, college entrance, etc. For example if they are allowed 3 minutes to complete a question, and they start at 3:06:25, then they know they have until 3:09:25 to finish it. That sort of makes sense to me. If there’s a problem with the kids in the UK, I don’t think it is that they can’t tell time from an analog clockface; it’s that they are being taught to be able to take tests, rather than taught to learn the subject matter.

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I agree with VDCdriver about the level that owners manuals were written. It’s not like they’re composed of mind numbing legalese.

We had a Captain from the local AFB bring his Subaru in once for a 30k miles maintenance. He was a likeable and cheerful guy. Not for long.

When he came in to pick the car up he wanted to know if there were any papers to be signed for warranty purposes. I told him that regular maintenance was customer pay; not warranty. He became outraged and started bitching about being ripped off and “no one told me maintenance was customer pay”.

We had a manual under the counter so I pulled it out and pointed that bit out to him. I also directed his attention to a large wall poster by the counter which stated warranty policies and which also plainly stated maintenance was the car owner’s responsibility. He was still not mollified and made our life a living hell for the next 3 weeks by coming in every day he wasn’t flying as an instructor and complaining over non-existent problems.

I finally pulled a little BS on him by telling him that I found a faulty sensor which was replaced under warranty. His car was never even pulled into the shop in the 3 days we had it.
He was happy as could be and the “problem” was never mentioned again.
The power of suggestion… :slight_smile:


I know of kids in the US who can’t read an analog clock. The article I read about the UK, specifically said they can’t read the clocks.

I was in marketing for a tech company for a long time and we aimed our manuals for the 8th grade level. We think we aimed too high. Few people read the manuals, that has nothing to do with their ability to read-just lazy, the ones who did read were usually ahead of the game. I can’t recall a warranty problem that a car dealer did not eventually fix when it was legitimate. I am polite but firm and if you lay out the facts most dealers in my area are reasonable and willing to take care of their customers. My wife did have to grab a service writer by the tie once to get him to test drive a new van with a transmission problem. If you stopped on a hill and took off the tranny would slam in and out of gear lurching. But if you started on the level and went up hill it was fine. They took it for a drive and did not stop, then claimed they could not duplicate the problem That is when my 5’ petite wife grabbed him and made him drive it again. They had the van for about 10 days and fixed it, was good for many years. The corporate office sent a routine survey to follow up and we stated the facts, the dealer called a week or so later almost rudely asking why we slammed them. The facts spoke for them selves. Other than that incident -which they did fix- have not had any trouble with warranty

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Oh man don’t get me started. A recent study found something like 40-60% of 8th graders not reading at their level or math comprehension at their level. Then for entertainment watched videos of college students on two different campuses that didn’t know when the Civil War was or who won. Some were black. Didn’t know who we fought during the Revolution or even that there was one, but they did know about movies. And you think everything is okeydokey?

At any rate, part of my problem is the dealer is 60 miles away so its not like I’m just going to pop in there for a cup of coffee and chat. I’ll try to figure it out myself unless something serious. Sounds like I’ve got struts in the back that are bad or something loose. Gotta check my CD to see what’s covered. I seem to remember back in the 50’s warranties were for something like 3000 miles-pretty sure.

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I visit Toyotanation forum ( should be called the home of stupid questions ) and is really sad the number of questions that could have been solved just by looking in the manual or going to the dealer .


Completely agree!!

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I guess it wasn’t obvious enough that I was being facetious when I asked if manufacturers should dumb-down their manuals to the 5th grade reading level. The problem is surely laziness. Remember that old saying… You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. There is a lot of truth in that old aphorism.

On a somewhat related note, there was a small article in the news the other day regarding a student at the U. of Massachusetts who didn’t know that Jersey is one of the Channel Islands, and that a reference to “Jersey” on a Facebook page wasn’t a reference to New Jersey. The gibberish that he posted made no sense to the good folks from Jersey, so in an effort to provide him with some much-needed education, their Chamber of Commerce gave him and his girlfriend an all-expenses-paid luxury vacation to that island, including the use of “an electric car”. They even installed a charging station at the castle where they were staying.

I guess that–at least in this instance–ignorance can pay-off for some people.

Because, sadly, it was an all too real and likely suggestion!

Yes, Steinway apparently has a lifetime warranty on their pianos. All the owner has to do is ship it prepaid back to New York where it was made!!!

My wife has a Zozurushi bread maker, the world’s best, according to tests. It has a great warranty, but it has to be shipped back in its original box??? to the regional head office, in our case 2500 miles. It’s over 10 years old and has performed flawlessly, so we’re not complaining.

P.S. One thing to watch for. Dealers do not get paid much to do warranty work, so they will add to their revenue by “finding” or “discovering” all sorts of other things your car does not really need. This alone turns some owners off but all you have to say that “I’m here for this warranty or recall item”.

If everyone read and understood the owner’s manual, we would be out of a job!

Schools are just fine, IMO, at least around here. There are underachievers everywhere, even when I was in school in the 1960s in a county next to the one I live in now. I remember a guy in my geometry class that refused to work, saying he was set for life because he would inherit his father’s gas station.