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What Saab bankruptcy means for warranty, parts

Dear Car Fix: I'm concerned about the recent bankruptcy of the Saab Co.

Will we be able to get parts for our cars?

Do you have any information on the impact of all this on current Saab owners like myself?

-- D.C., Williamsville

Dear D.C.: Many people who purchased Saabs are as concerned as you are.

With GM pledging to honor warranty coverage on some models, there still are some gaps that need to be filled on the final details.

Saab has suspended warranty coverage on all of its vehicles in North America.

Additionally, new vehicles must be sold "as is," the bankrupt Swedish automaker told its dealers.

However, General Motors, Saab's former owner, said it would honor warranties on all models sold when it owned the Swedish automaker.

Effective Dec. 19, "warranty coverage is suspended indefinitely for all new Saab vehicles sold. During this period, the warranty booklet must be removed from the owner information packet.

For any vehicle sold or leased during this period, the customer should be affirmatively advised that the vehicle does not carry any warranty coverage and is sold "as is."

Saab Cars North America also said it has suspended the processing and payment of all claims, including but not limited to:

* New-car warranties

* Powertrain warranties

* Emission warranties

* Parts warranty

* Safety belts, airbags

* Towing

* Recalls and campaigns

* Certified preowned coverage

* Goodwill

* No charge maintenance

Saab owners should keep receipts of all related warranty work done or services performed until further notice, per Saab Cars North America.

All new 2011 Saab models were last covered by a four-year, 50,000-mile warranty that included roadside assistance, and no-charge scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles.

In the event Saab cannot or will not fulfill its obligations to administer the warranty programs with its U.S. and Canadian dealers through Saab Cars North America or otherwise, GM will take necessary steps to ensure that remaining warranty obligations on Saab vehicles marketed by GM in the United States and Canada will be honored.

Details have yet to be sorted out.

As for parts, dealers have parts and the aftermarket will have parts for many years.

* * *

Dear Car Fix: I've been looking at new cars and noticed that many of them don't have spares. What is the story? What are you supposed to do if you have a flat tire?

I wanted to see what you thought about this before I make my final decision.

-- R.B., Amherst

Dear RB: Vehicle spare tires are on the endangered list because of new fuel economy rules and may soon be a thing of the past.

If you're buying a new car, it's important to know whether or not it comes with a spare tire. This may be a consideration when purchasing your next vehicle.

To meet new government fuel-efficiency standards, some vehicle manufacturers are omitting heavy spare tires and equipping new vehicles with an emergency sealant and inflator kit.

Others are providing tires that, if damaged, can run reasonable distances without air. These tires are known as run-flats. These tires are also expensive to replace.

New standards set by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency require a combined 29.7 mpg for the 2012 model year, increasing to 34.1 mpg by 2016.

One way to meet these standards is to reduce vehicle weight. A spare tire, related tools and a jack can weigh more than 40 pounds -- weight that can be eliminated without adding cost to the vehicle.

Unfortunately, many vehicle owners may be unaware that their vehicle has no spare tire until after they experience a flat.

Check your owner's manual to see what your vehicle is equipped with and adjust your emergency kit as needed. This may mean that you prefer a tire inflation product or will purchase run-flat tires when yours are worn.