Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: France, Pas-de-Calais
Drives: Kia Ceed, MGTF, Various Jeeps new and old, FIAT 500
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Firstly. It's a simple point of UK Contract law. They have provided a warranty contract that they wish to caveat by a contract term. If you sued for breach of contract they would have to prove that the clause term applies and is relevant. You cannot simply apply a term and then expect a blanket "get out of jail". For instance you as a manufacturer would fail under UK law to void a warranty claimed due to a suspension fault if the engine oil had not been changed ever. Even if the engine failed and the service had not been done the manufacturer by law would have to prove, if taken to court, that the failure is directly due to the lack of service, otherwise they would be liable.
Secondly. Under UK law, or in any Common Law jurisdiction, the court applies a test known as the Reasonable Person. That is no matter what is actually written in a contract they will consider what a Reasonable Person would do. So if the contract says change the oil after 20,000 miles and you do it after 22,000 they will consider if this is reasonable. Which it is!
Thirdly, civil law does not generally provide for black and white decisions so if a new engine needing 4k replacement was needed but you had missed a service that had directly contributed to the failure then you would by law still be entitled to the proportion of the cost of the that was not due to servicing issues.
Fourthly, there is a 1999 consumer act that prevents "Unfair Contract Clauses". Clauses that simply void a warranty based on a condition, without proving the relevance of the condition have been ruled as unfair. For example if I we signed a contract that said I would buy your house but in the small print said you had to have a turnip in your pocket, and I failed to buy the house because you did not have a turnip, you could sue me and would win unless I could prove the turnip clause was relevant to the deal.
Finally the EU for those in it made a lot of the traditional conditions in Car warranties illegal as from 2003 and this has been slowly filtering into UK law. This includes the condition that cars must be serviced by a main agent. Stipulating this is now illegal.
So while this all seems a lot of legal issues that require you to go to
Court, warranty providers know this and hence do not void warranties for all but very serious infractions (typically only write-off accidents excl Cat D). So you do not have to go to court and they fix your car.
As I said I do not know any first hand examples of a manufacturer warranty being voided due to servicing issues.