The days of free loaner cars may be over, due to car shortage

Many dealerships sold off their loaner fleets
Car being repaired
Posted at 4:00 AM, Feb 25, 2022

Is your car heading into the shop for warranty repair or recall? You might assume you'll get a free loaner. Not anymore, in many cases.

It's another fallout of the supply chain shortage, as Amy Fredericks knows all too well.

"It's 8 weeks later, and I still don't have a vehicle," she said.

Her 2017 Hyundai has been in the shop 2 months, waiting on a recall repair.

"The issue I'm having is that there are no loaner cars to give anybody, and I am supposed to do that on my own."

The dealer said they would try to reimburse her, but she says, "I've had prices that are $50 a day to $120 a day, which are adding up to over a thousand dollars at this point in time."

It used to be that when your car was in the shop for a repair, the service manager would walk you out front and hand you the keys to a shiny new loaner car.

But given what's happening in the new car market these days, with so few cars available, those loaner cars are getting harder and harder to find.

Does the dealer owe you a loaner in a recall?

Will Ourand is an automobile litigation lawyer at Newsome Melton Law.

"In general there is no statute I know of that say they have to give you a loaner car during a recall repair," he said.

He says customers face two problems right now:

  • Shortages of replacement parts, where it can take weeks for a new part to arrive.
  • Dealers selling off their loaner cars, due to the new car shortage.

He says dealers do not owe you a free loaner, even if it is for a free warranty repair on a relatively new car.

So his advice: Make sure that dealership will have repair parts before you leave your car there.

"Look around to see if there are other nearby dealerships, to see if they have the part available," he said. "Sometimes you can call the manufacturer and they can send you somewhere else that has the part."

After we contacted Hyundai's US corporate office, they found Fredericks a free loaner.

She just wishes they would do that for everyone.

"This is a warranty issue that they need to be helping their customers with a little more than they are," she said.

But these are not typical times. So ask a lot of questions, so you don't waste your money.


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