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Dear My Car Doc,
I’ve heard whispers about Secret Warranties. Is there a secret club I need to be in or a decoder ring I need to order? What is this all about?
—Waiting by the mailbox
Nope, no decoder ring, secret knock, secret handshake, or private club to join….but there ARE secret warranties.
Here’s the scoop: When a part has a high failure rate, a car manufacturer will sometimes notify its dealers that it will pay for certain repairs even after the original warranty expires. However, manufacturers do not notify car owners about these secret warranties, sometimes called goodwill adjustments, service campaigns or other names. To find out about secret warranties or technical service bulletins that might apply to your vehicle, contact the Center for Auto Safety. Call (202) 328-7700 or send a letter with a self- addressed, stamped envelope to: Center for Auto Safety, Suite 410, 2001 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20009-1160. Be sure to list the make, model and year of your car and describe the specific problem you are experiencing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also has information about recalls and technical service bulletins, which you can obtain by calling their hotline at 800-424-9393, or visiting NHTSA’s website.