Technician Responsibilities in Warranty


If you were to compare the service department to the military I think you would classify management as the leadership, the Advisors as scouts, the Admins as diplomats, and Technicians as the soldiers. Technicians are on the front lines as they perform repairs.

Much like in war, those out in the field fighting make decisions in the moment based on what they feel is the best thing. However, unlike in war, Technicians have rules that cannot be broken or else they will lose the battle. None of this going off on your own stuff.

We want to explain the Technician's responsibilities in warranty repairs so you can be fully equipped to win the battle over your dealership's money and keep what is rightfully yours.

Before we jump right in, please download our warranty claims checklist by clicking on the image below. It's free and it will help you to stay on task with every repair order.

Warranty Compliance Checklist

Documenting the Verification of the Customer's Concern

Let’s get started by talking about documenting the verification of the customer's concern. You have the keys in your hand, so punch on or log onto the repair to start your time. The very first statement that the manufacturer is looking for in your story is that you were able to duplicate the customer's concern.

If you cannot duplicate the concern within 30 minutes, most likely to keep trying at this point will get you the same result. You will need to get this back to the advisor for more information from the customer. Once you duplicate the concern, note that in your story for example:

Customer concern- Customer states there is a hesitation on acceleration from a stop to 20 mph.

The first statement from technician- Test drove vehicle 1 mile. I was able to duplicate hesitation from a stop.

The duplication also has to be for the customer concern stated, not like this example:

Hesitation on acceleration – test drove could not duplicate- did find that the radio will not illuminate on certain channels – replace radio

Obviously, he was more concerned about listening to music rather than concentrating on the hesitation issue.

Identifying the Root Cause and Listing Tests and Results

So we have duplicated the customer's concern. This will start your initial diagnosis to determine the correct path to follow. At this point, you also need to be certified to work on the concern before proceeding. You must always make sure you have the qualifications to do the work or guess what? Your dealership will do the repair for free because the manufacturer either won’t pay the claim or they will charge it back if found.

Since you are already punched in or logged onto the job, you will start your testing.

We've noticed that some claims have statements such as, "ran cylinder leak down test, found cylinder 5 low.” What is the value of low? You will need to list in the story the exact measurements or results found.

It is important also that you list all scan codes in the story even if you print them out or store them electronically.  Remember that whoever is reviewing the story on the computer to pay the claim, must be able to read them in the story you provide.

When replacing components that need volt and ohms, you must list those tests and results. The testing also must be a logical test based on the complaint.  A suggestion is to write this in your story before proceeding so you don’t have to go back and try to remember it later.

Remember you need to document exactly what you did so you can get paid accurately.  If you don’t say it – they don’t have to pay it.

Remember that "broke," "missing," and outside influence is not considered by the manufacturer as their problem. Broken indicates that someone broke it. Let’s say that the cup holder really is broken.  What caused it to break?  Were the tabs weak causing it not to retract?

Missing indicates that someone took it when the vehicle was in transit or it was misbuilt so you should have found it when delivered. We are going to use a molding that blew off as an example. In your statement, you would indicate “Poor adhesion caused the molding to come off of the vehicle on the highway. Customer was unable to retrieve.”

Worn items are not considered warranty such as hoses, wipers, clutches etc. Things get worn out because of use.

Any item defective due to outside influence is not the manufacturer’s responsibility and should not be charged to them.

The testing that was done will usually give you the CAUSE or the manufacturers defect. This defect needs to be clearly stated in the story. This is why the manufacturer should pay for the claim.

Let’s take, for example, a wiring repair.  When you state the cause, such as "loose connection" then state the color, circuit, and harness, the manufacturer can trace that down to the very robot that did that.

Sometimes the cause just isn’t that easy to confirm. Let’s take a transmission. Sometimes the manufacturer doesn’t want you to open the case. In these instances, it could be that in verifying the concern it is the shift points and measurements that are going to be the cause.  Be sure even if you attach a sheet that all of this is in your story. Attachments get lost on occasion. Also, those codes will need to download when the claim is sent for faster payment.

The same may be true of modules and self-contained components.  In these cases, the cause will be the codes that are pulled along with the additional comments of “internal defect”.

Noise and vibration will need the exact steps you took to locate and isolate the noise in the component. For example, road test with chassis ears to isolate the noise is coming from the compressor. What did you do to isolate the sound to make sure this part is the one that is making noise? Obvious noise would be you open the hood and the fan is screaming at you. No additional testing would be needed.

Describing the Correction or Remedy

Next will be your repair process which will be your correction or remedy. Most likely the people that are reviewing and paying the repair are not technicians. So your story needs to state items removed and all the steps taken to make the repair so that it is understandable to anyone recreating the sequence and matching to the operations that were chosen.  If you leave out that you did pinpoint test 45 with resulting failure, then you claim that operation, you will be either shorted or charged back at some point.

“if you don’t say it: they can’t pay it”

Remember that if you use a bulletin, that bulletin number must be stated in the story along with the actual steps you took to do the repair.  Usually, if there is a bulletin, that can be the only remedy that you are using.

Bulletins, TSB’s, LSC, TJ, tech line cases, whatever they want to call them have the same requirements as a normal warranty.

I have seen so many different and creative technician comments when it comes to technical bulletins. Here is an example:

Customer states: "Noise from left front of vehicle."

First of all, this really doesn’t give your tech any helpful information from the customer for how to duplicate the concern. Get back to the basics: where, how often, what type of noise, and under what conditions (for you advisors). Now the technician statement:

"Found TSB to lube struts." (not good!!)

This particular TSB states to:

  1. Use chassis ears or equivalent during test drive at 40mph to isolate a rattle noise from strut mount.
  2. If rattle is present apply lubricant to the length of the strut shaft that contacts the jounce bumper.

All of this needs to be in the story:

Used chassis ears at 40mph found noise from strut mount. Apply lube to strut shaft. Test drove and verify noise is eliminated.

Here is another good example of a story:

Customer states fluid leaking onto ground from rear of engine area. Dye test found leak at rear main seal. Removed transmission to replace rear main seal, installed transmission, test drove and check for leaks, none found.

All steps of the repair process need to be recorded. If replacing modules, was it necessary to update the software? When replacing a steering gear was it necessary to align or just set toe? If you are making an AC repair, did you reclaim and recharge and how much Freon was needed? If you are doing a coolant repair did you have to bleed the system?

Time Punching

Let me say that I have worked alongside a few technicians and accurate time punching is not EASY.  It is hard.

All warranty repair orders must have the technicians actual starting and ending times for all warranty repairs.

According to the labor time statements by the manufacturer, there is time built into the labor operation to:

  • Locate vehicle and drive into the shop
  • Set up workspace and tools, basic visual diagnosis and initial test drive
  • Get parts
  • Repair or replace part
  • Clean and return part
  • Story the tickets
  • Final test drive and park vehicle

Technician time recordings need to be reasonable with the standards set by the Labor Time Guides. But what if there is no specific time listed in the Labor Time Guide for an operation that a technician needs to complete? In that case, a separate punch is required. Most manufacturers have 2 types of straight time. One type of straight time which is additional time required such as swapping parts, broken bolts, or labor overlaps. Then there is straight time when there is just no operation for the repair. Both types will require a separate punch time.

In each of these cases, a technician must provide a detailed and logical explanation of work needed.


  • Accurate time punching

** .8 clock time 2.5 hours paid = 300% efficiency (auditors look into anything over 150%)

You need to really be on the repair when you are on the repair.  No running time.  It is evident that you are running time because your test times and when the part is charged on the RO will not match the times you have punched. In other words, it is traceable.

Run-on Repairs

You are trained to just get the vehicle fixed.  The manufacturer only wants to pay for what is their problem.  Somewhere in-between there it gets muddled sometimes.  Usually, the manufacturer is looking for the one part with supporting gaskets and such that caused the issue and that is all that should be on that repair.  Occasionally there will be one part that causes another to fail.  These are consequential damage and usually will be on the same job as the repair.

Trial and error repairs are not ok unless directed by the manufacturer and is substantiated in your story with case numbers.

You have an add-on repair when you test drive the vehicle and find a different symptom.  Here is a good example:

Customer concern creak in front drivers side: Replace shock.  On test drive found rattling coming from front end - replace rack assy.

This needs to be treated and approved as an add-on repair. Management needs to approve and customer contacted. These will also start another job which will need separate time punching.

Road Testing and Final Checks

Note your final test drive for quality control and put your test drive miles into your story. Make sure you have operated the replaced components. Clean and return your defective parts and have the claim stamped by the parts department. Make sure all your comments are complete either on the hard copy or computer. Now you are ready to punch or log off of the repair.

I know this is a lot of information, but you will save yourself a lot of headaches if you can adhere to these principles. If you need help remembering all of this, make sure you have downloaded our Warranty Repair Order Checklist. If your store is beyond the help of a simple checklist, please contact us and talk to us about wither training or outsourcing your warranty processing to our expert administrators.

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