If you have bought a car from a dealer and you need to return with any complaints, I strongly recommend that you read your warranty properly before doing so. That will give you a clear understanding of what is, and what is not covered under your warranty and what your rights are. Most of the 30 day warranties will cover engine, gearbox and diff only. So, for example, if the CD player packed up after a week, that item would technically not be covered.

Remember, the dealer wants to keep you as happy as possible, and is probably doing his utmost to give you after sales service over and above the terms of warranty. Take into consideration the age and mileage of the car you have bought and ask yourself if your demands are fair and reasonable - more importantly, are they covered under the warranty. 

When returning with after sales issues, it is so much easier dealing with a polite client than an upset one, so try to stay calm and reasonable. You will get so much more achieved that way.

Always remember that you have bought a used vehicle and it will have wear and tear on it. Although a one month warranty might appear to be a very short warranty, that is the industry standard and its been like that for at least 40 years. In the event of disagreement between buyer and seller, the written agreement of warranty will be the deciding document for any legal argument.

If the warranty has just expired and you experience a serious problem with the car, ask to speak to the senior manager or owner and ask for assistance and appeal to their goodwill. Shouting and screaming will not help, except to alienate you further. 

If you feel you have been swindled, you have various options open to you:

  1. If it is a financed deal, you can contact the finance company. The relationship between dealer and bank is important. The banks are able to exert some quiet diplomacy on the dealer. In many cases it is sufficient to generate a satisfactory conclusion.
  2. Most dealers belong to dealer organizations like the IDA (Independent Dealer Association) or the RMI (retail Motor Industry). Find out to which organization they belong and raise your complaint with the appropriate person.
  3. If you are still not satisfied, you will need to consult an attorney. Before you do that, understand the financial and time constraints and possibly get an independent persons opinion of your likelihood of success or failure.

If I am the seller, what is the best way to handle after sales issues?

This is a good way to deal with an after sales complaint:

Before agreeing to see the client, check that the warranty is valid in terms of both time and distance.

  1. Be courteous and relaxed. Offer the client the privacy of your office for the meeting.
  2. Listen intently to the client’s whole story. Do not interrupt. Not even once.
  3. Make notes that are relevant as you are listening.
  4. When the client has finished, ask if there is anything else on his/her mind
  5. Now go and physically examine the car with the client in attendance. This will ensure no miscommunication.
  6. Write everything down that you observe.
  7. Return to the office and confirm with your client the list you have written down.
  8. Once you have affirmation, cross reference the complaints with the warranty and establish which items fall under the scope of the warranty.
  9. Get your client’s agreement on those items.
  10. If you are able to assist your client with any of the other non-warranty items, ask your client which are the most important ones to him.
  11. Many complaints are inevitably very small and easy to remedy. I try to cover as many as possible to create goodwill with the client.
  12. It is much more about HOW you deal with the client than WHAT you end up repairing.

Successfully and intelligently resolving after sales issues is an opportunity to cement a good relationship with your customer for life. Think about that before you turn down a borderline request. 8 out of 10 people will be reasonable and understand the limitations of used car warranties, but the other 2 will be difficult and unreasonable. Accept that as the norm.