Hidden warranties can help you with costly repairs

Most people do not know about secret warranties

11pm Hidden Warranties
11pm Hidden Warranties

ORLANDO, Fla. – Car repairs can be pricey. Even the smallest fixes can add up. But there might be a way to get those repairs made at little or no cost.

[WEB EXTRA:  Check for service bulletins | Part II]

The good news is some car problems may not be as expensive as you think, thanks to what some call "secret warranties." The bad news is that many vehicle owners don't know the "secret warranties" even exist.

Local 6 consumer reporter Erika Washington asked, "Have you ever heard of a hidden warranty?"

Shirley Rodriguez replied, "No, I have heard of extended warranty but not hidden warranty."

Most people haven't.

Mechanic Dennis Raghunandan owns World Auto and just Tuesday came across a "hidden" warranty for a customer.

Dennis says, "We had a nice young lady who had a Hyundai and her car was experiencing a lot of vibration and shaking."

So World Auto looked up the repair and saw the car manufacturer covered it.

Dennis explains, "It was a known issue at the dealership for a sensor that had to be replaced and a computer update and it was at free of charge."

Here is how it works:

Car manufacturers file thousands of service bulletins with the federal government each year when a particular vehicle problem is widespread but not considered dangerous enough to prompt a recall. Problem is many owners don't know about service bulletins and pay for repairs out of their pocket.

So why not consider these "bulletins" a secret or hidden warranty?

Washington asked, "How much would that cost if she would have to pay out of pocket?" Dennis says, "It would have been close to a thousand dollars for that repair."

In 2006-11 Honda Civics, if the paint is cracking for specific colors, Honda extended the paint warranty to seven years with no mileage limit. In the GMC Envoy and many 2005-07 General Motors' SUVs, a faulty sensor can mean the fuel gauge is not accurate.

Vehicle owners should get a letter from the manufacturer about the repair, but if you bought your car used, that probably won't happen.

Jody owns a Toyota and says, "I think they need better promotion of it" Toyota recently sent letters to owners about the dashboard melting. Jody says, "It's the plastic or surface of it deteriorates in the hot sun. I was very pleased to get my letter"

However uninformed consumers end up losing money in repair bills because they don't know about these unadvertised service programs.

Washington asked Dennis about the "melting dashboard" She asked, "How much can those repairs cost a person?" Dennis says, "It can cost a lot, in the thousands."

So why don't car manufacturers do a better job advertising service bulletins? Simple.

Dennis says, "I think the dealership doesn't want thousands of people showing up for an issue that may or may not be happening that people want to fix just in case."

Car owners can find out about the technical service bulletins associated with your vehicle by going to:

You will need to know the make, model and year of your vehicle.