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Taking two hours to research a warranty saved me $275!

I loved this email from Bethany:

My car was recently due for inspection. After the inspection, they told me I needed four new tires — something I hadn’t expected. I opted not to immediately get tires and do a little research first since I knew my tires didn’t have many miles on them and were less than two years old.

I found the receipt from my previous tire purchase less than two years ago and the warranty that came with the tires. The warranty stated that the tires I had purchased should last 40,000 miles with proper maintenance.

At this point it had only been 20,000 miles, so I decided to discuss this issue with the tire company. They informed me I would need to show proof of proper tire maintenance – which I had – and that they would be able to credit me back half the cost of the original tires.

This gave me a $275 credit towards a new set of tires!

Before I started following Money Saving Mom® I would have simply purchased new tires without even thinking to contact the tire company. This extra research took maybe 1-2 hours… and saved me $275. I’ll take a job where I can make $137.50 per hour any day!

So remember…

We have warranties for a reason: it is because the company believes the product will last beyond some set point and when it doesn’t the consumer has the right to recuperate any loss from the product.

Proper record keeping and proper maintenance are the key to being able to recuperate lost cost when something doesn’t hold up as it should have.

Saving money is more than coupons — there are many other ways to keep our hard-earned cash in our pockets.

Bethany is currently finishing up her MBA and was encouraged by her husband’s job loss more than two years ago (he is since re-employed) and her desire to go back to school to find ways to save money everywhere possible.

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36 Comments

  • Brandy says:

    We had a similar thing happen to us as well, but it was with a battery. My husbands car quit running and we parked it for a while. Then, we decided to test and see if the battery was the problem. It was! We looked back to see when we had purchased it and realized it was still under warranty. We were able to get a free replacement. I can’t remember how much it saved us, but it was a pretty nice savings maybe somewhere between $60-100. Before I would have just felt like bad luck had hit and went out and bought a new one.

  • BethB says:

    Way to go!

    They clearly bank on most people not having proper documentation but you showed them. 🙂 We probably would be missing one simple receipt or page of a maintenance report.

  • Joanna Wright says:

    I have done the exact same thing in the past, when my 80,000-mile Michelin tires only lasted about 38,000 miles. In fact, I’m about to have to do it again, since my warranty replacement tires were the exact same tires & have again only lasted 1/2 their warrantied mileage. This writer is absolutely correct that this is something most people don’t think of when they need new tires! In fact, were it not for the fact I was living in the heart of Michelin Country and had purchased my tires from a shop that was primarily responsible for handling warranty replacements for people who had contacted Michelin w/ similar problems, I wouldn’t have thought of it, and I’m usually on top of that kind of thing. And actually, I DIDN’T think of it. The shop guys volunteered the info, since that’s what they handled pretty much day in and day out. It’s definitely something to know! It can save you a lot of money!

  • Ashley says:

    We did this exact same thing last week! We bought tires back in Dec of 2010 at Sam’s Club (My brother works in the tire dept. there, and he installed them himself, so I know he did a good job.) Last Friday, hubby and I got off work and walked to the parking lot to dicover a flat tire! It was in the side wall and couldn’t be plugged. We put on our spare and drove home. Hubby keeps all of his really important receipts in a briefcase. When we got home, we checked the warranty on the tires, and it was good for 4 years or 30,000 miles.

    They replaced the tire for $15 for the disposal fee! We saved at least $60 on the tire. 🙂

    • Nancy says:

      I love Walmart tires! I always get the $8 replacement warranty because I seem to be prone to flat tires. To date I have gotten 6 new tires for only the disposal fee. Plus anywhere you go in the country there is almost always a Walmart nearby.

  • Jason says:

    The same thing happened to me when I took the wife’s car in for a rotate/balance. They tried selling me 2 new tires, and didn’t bother looking up the warranty. I couldn’t remember if she got 2 or 4 new tires, it was just after we met, so I went home and went through the paperwork and found the receipt with the warranty info. Remember to take a second to double check, it is worth the time.

  • stacy says:

    Same thing happened to us just 2 weeks ago! My car battery was dead and I took a chance and looked through our “Cars” folder in our file cabinet. Turns out- the battery was still under warranty so it was completely free- $100 value! It really pays to save important receipts and be organized!

  • Blythe says:

    Yay! We had our van battery go dead on us while out of town. It was 1 year before warranty was up. Called Walmart. They prefer you to get your new one there but if your stuck then you can buy what you need where you are and bring the old battery and paper work in later. They gave us a refund of the new battery which was a better one (as that was our option at the only option in the small town we were in).

    Was well worth checking the date, calling walmart and then doing the return. 🙂

  • Joan says:

    Bethany,

    What kind of proof of “proper tire maintanence” did you need?

    Joan

    • Kayla says:

      Usually you’ll need documentation that you’ve regularly had your tires rotated and aligned. The same thing happened to me, only I WASN’T responsible in keeping my rotations and alignments up to date–so my warranty was voided and I had to buy two new tires.

    • Bethany says:

      Joan,

      I just needed to show that I had my tires rotated and aligned every so many miles and it didn’t have to be done at the same place where I purchased the tires. Fortunately I use a dealer for all my oil changes and they do free tire rotations with every oil change and were happy to print me all my records.

  • Just this morning, I was able to save $50-half the price!- on the lifts for our hatchback by doing 10 minutes of internet searching instead of buying them from the local parts store. My husband can install them so we won’t have to pay mechanics labor either. A $107+ project got knocked down to $50.50

  • Julie says:

    On a similar line: We never, ever take our vehicles to the national car part/car fix inspection places that starts with a V (or any for that matter). They always find hundreds of dollars worth of things that need to be done before they will pass it. Local car mechanics that do inspections will look at the same things, we ask about the things the national place mentioned, and the local mechanic always says that there is nothing wrong with those particular things. Or only some of it needs to be repaired.

    So often instead of spending $500, we only spend the $12.50 inspection fee or maybe $150 to fix what actually does need to be fixed.

    This has actually happened in more than one place in my state as we have moved a couple times between college, getting jobs, etc. So it isn’t just a one branch vs. one mechanic thing.

  • Great post! Keeping up with warranties is something I need to work on. But you are so right that often, with a little bit of time & effort, you can save hundreds of dollars. I just got a second opinion on some dental work this week & saved about $300 just in my co-pay alone.

  • One good way to avoid having to hunt for receipts a couple of years after a purchase is to scan them (if you have a scanner!) and OCR so that you can just search for the word. I do regular scans for documents like warranties, and for actual receipts I scan into a program called Neatworks, which is pretty good at recognizing the elements of your receipt (store, cost, etc.) so that you can find them later.

    Not that I always get stuff scanned in timely. Around tax time it’s always a scanning frenzy!

  • I needed this reminder. I am terrible at hanging on to paperwork and keeping records of car maintainence, etc. Seeing how much it saved you is definitely a wake up call!

  • Robyn in ATX says:

    My dad has always gotten his tires at Discount Tires. Somehow he has bought so many sets there, that he is able to add our cars to his account, and we always are able to get warranty on existing tires because of his faithfulness to the company. I had a blow out a couple of years ago, and it only cost me $16 to replace a $200 tire. LOVE that place!!

  • Cher says:

    It never hurts to ask. One time the handle to my crock-pot lid broke. I decided to call Crock-Pot to see if I could buy a replacement handle. After about 20 minutes of being on hold and ready a whole bunch of numbers off the crock-pot to the customer service rep, she announced that it was still under warranty and they would mail me a new (and improved!) one for FREE! It was several years old, so I was shocked and VERY pleased with their customer service.

    • julie says:

      I am going to try this today! My crockpot lid handle broke a few months ago, but I never thought to call them. Duh 😉

      • Andrea says:

        If you Google the brand, there might be a recall. There’s been an ongoing recall on slow cookers due to the handles breaking; some of the recalled appliances are more than 5 years old.

    • Mary says:

      This actually worked for me with my keurig coffee maker. The keurig died 1 week before the warranty was up. Since I had taken the time to register it when I purchased it I was able to receive a free one- saved $130!

  • Cheryl says:

    Way to go Bethany! I learned the hard way to ask and/or research before throwing out something that broke. We had a heavy duty paper shredder bought from Costco that died about 18 months after we bought it. Threw it out with the garbage and a week later went to Costco to buy a new one and mentioned the demise of the old one. The clerk told me I could have brought it back for a free replacement or refund because it shouldn’t have broke so soon. Told her I assumed it was beyond its warranty but she said Costco would have taken it back. Could have saved $100 just by asking. Never hurts just to ask.

  • Jennifer says:

    I think that is great that you saved so much money! I am curious though, why they only offered you half the cost back. Is it because you had driven them half of the warrantied time? I hate dealing with stuff like this, but as you found out, it is very much worth it. And I always find that tires NEVER last as long as they should last.

    • Bethany says:

      Jennifer,

      You are exactly correct I only got half back because I had used the tires for half of the warrantied time.
      The best part is this was the manufactures warranty not something additional (such as an extended warranty) that I had purchased.

  • Marcelaine says:

    One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes your warranty is only effective if you get the tires maintained at their store. This is the case with Costco tires. Once I saw a woman come in with shredded tires (and a son who had “no idea how it happened”) and her warranty wasn’t valid because she’d been getting the maintenance at Jiffy Lube and not Costco. She was very irate!

    • Bethany says:

      Marcelaine,
      The warranty I had was the tire manufactures warranty (generally known as a limited term warranty) and thus that is who provided me with the $275 towards new tires, to use anywhere, not the shop I was purchasing or had purchased my tires from.
      It is likely in the case of Costco that they are providing an extended warranty which they can control the requirements of and similarly if they offer their own brand of tires they can control the warranty on that as well.

  • Andrea says:

    I wish someone would shout this from the rooftops: “Saving money is more than coupons — there are many other ways to keep our hard-earned cash in our pockets.”

  • Kathy says:

    My battery also died a couple of weeks ago, and the sticker on the battery showed we had purchased it 10/10. When my husband took the car in to see if the battery was dead or if something else was wrong, the battery was replaced at no cost to us, and we didn’t even need a receipt! Because this was a brand of battery the store sold, there were no questions asked. (I could have found a receipt, but my filing is rather haphazard the last couple of years so it would have taken a while.)

  • Janille says:

    Walmart/Sam’s Club are both pretty good about honoring warranties on tires when they need to be replaced before the warranty period is up – without making me prove up on the maintenance, although we’re pretty good about that. I haven’t had as good of luck with Big O – they’ve wanted a lot more proof and wanted the maintenance to be done at their business. I do enough driving that an 80,000 mile tire usually only makes it to about 30,000 for me so the warranties are definitely worth it.

  • Heather says:

    What constitutes proof of proper maintainance? What did you have to provide? I would like to know so that I don’t miss out on a warranty opportunity like this!

    • Ginny says:

      Your comment brings up an important point. Say, for instance, that “proper maintenance” for the tires includes rotating the tires a certain number of times per year. What if you rotate them yourself? In that instance, there is no “proof” other than your word.

    • Bethany says:

      Heather,
      As Ginny also replied I had to simply show that I had my tires rotated every so many miles and it didn’t have to be done at the same place I had purchased the tires because this was a tire manufactures warranty not a store warranty. I can comment on how you would show proof of rotating them yourself.

  • Good job! I keep all of those warranty/guarantee kind of receipts in a binder so that I can easily find them if I need them.

  • Pat says:

    I had a flat on one tire and took it to get fixed, they said I needed a new tire since it had gone thru the sidewall. My tires were only 2 years old, so I went to Costco where I bought them since I had a warranty (and didn’t even remember it!). I only paid $50 for a $200 tire. Also found out they will fix my flats for free up to 2 per tire!

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