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What Does "Limited Warranty" Mean?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 17 July 2014
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A warranty on a product or service is a guarantee of replacement, repair, or refund in the case of damage or dissatisfaction. A limited warranty is any warranty that is not complete or has various restrictions placed upon it. Truly unlimited warranties are extremely rare as most products do tend to wear out after a long enough time. An unlimited warranty would actually only be limited by the life of the company that offered the warranty in the first place; that company would probably end up losing money if it replaced each and every product that ceased to work properly. Limited versions, then, are far more popular, though the precise limitations placed on a warranty can differ significantly.

The cost of a limited warranty is often included in the price of a product. Many companies promise to replace products if they are damaged or unusable when purchased. This warranty, however, usually only lasts for a short period of time depending on the product. For many more expensive products, one can pay extra to extend the warranty. Many computers, for example, come with a one-year limited warranty that can be extended for another year or two if one pays for the extended warranty.

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Some companies place a lifetime limited warranty on their products. The term lifetime warranty implies to many that the warranty is limited only to the lifespan of the consumer or for the length of time the consumer owns the product. This term can be misleading and confusing; most lifetime warranties actually refer to the life of the product in the market rather than the life of the buyer of the product. Occasionally, the warranty will last for some finite period of time after the product is taken of the market. To determine the specific nature of a given lifetime warranty, one must check the documentation that came with the product.

There are many ways to invalidate a limited warranty. Intentional damage to a product is almost never covered in the terms of a warranty agreement; damage caused by misuse of the product is also covered only rarely. In some cases, products have certain tags or labels that can not be removed without voiding the limited warranty. There are even some products, such as CDs and DVDs, that cannot be returned or replaced after the plastic packaging is removed. All of these exceptions to warranties are also limitations; any warranty that can be invalidated in such ways must be considered a limited warranty because there are, indeed, limits to it.

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Discuss this Article

Kristee
Post 4

@wavy58 – I did extend my auto warranty a couple of times. That is because I can't afford to have something happen to it. I don't make enough money to cover the costs of major repair, so it seems cheaper to me to just pay to extend the warranty.

I have also extended the limited warranty on my washer and dryer. They are really nice ones that my father-in-law bought us as a wedding gift. They are high efficiency, and together, they cost over $1,000.

We went with my father-in-law to pick them out, and the salesman told us that we should always keep the warranty in effect, because since the washer and dryer were digital, it would cost about $200 to replace each one's “brains” if anything went wrong. Since the original purchase didn't cost us a thing, I didn't see a problem paying a little to keep the warranty in place.

wavy58
Post 3

I started getting notices in the mail that I should extend my car warranty after I had been driving the car for a few years. The dealership really wanted me to pay to have a longer warranty, and even though I didn't respond to these notices, I am still getting them today.

My car is now seven years old and has over 150,000 miles on it. This makes me wonder if the dealership looks at the information on when I bought it before sending out these notices or whether they just send them to everyone who bought a car from them and whose warranties have expired.

To extend the warranty now would just be silly. I could only get a couple of thousand for it if I traded it in or totaled it in a wreck.

shell4life
Post 2
@seag47 – I think that some companies do make their products to last only for a certain number of years. I have heard older people say that appliances like refrigerators and ovens are not made like they once were, and they are of poorer quality today.

The real eye-opener came when my heating unit stopped working. The repairman who came out to fix it actually told me that the company that made the unit purposely designed it to last only seven years. Of course, the limited warranty ceases before that time arrives.

I find it to be a disgusting practice. However, there is not much that we as consumers can do about it. If every company starts designing their stuff this way, we really won't have any options.

seag47
Post 1

I always had a feeling that there were restrictions on a limited product warranty. I've never had to use one, but I have purchased several products that have such a warranty. I've never taken the time to read the fine print, so I'm not sure if everything is disclosed within it or not.

One item that always has a limited warranty is a curling iron. These generally only last a couple of years if you use them every day, like I do. That is past the period that the warranty covers.

I wonder if the manufacturer knows that they will stop working after two years. They might even be designed to intentionally break down after the warranty has expired to make consumers buy new ones. That is pretty shady.

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