Can a Dealer Void My Warranty? Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act Explained
Whether you’re shopping for a replacement exhaust system or in the market for an aftermarket cold air intake, and you’re worried about your vehicle’s factory warranty, have no fear. The K5 Optima Store is here to give you the 411 on the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which protects you and other consumers from being wrongfully denied warranty coverage when you customize or modify your ride.
If you’re an auto enthusiast, chances are, you’ve heard the myth that modding your ride with aftermarket accessories automatically voids your warranty. While this may be true in certain circumstances, this is definitely not the way it works across the board. According to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a vehicle manufacturer cannot void the warranty of your vehicle due to an aftermarket part being installed, unless they can prove that the aftermarket part was the direct cause of or contributed cause to the failure of the vehicle (15 U.S.C. 2302 (C). This means that a vehicle's warranty cannot be "voided;" the dealer can only deny a claim if the stock part failed due to damage or unreasonable use based on the part that you installed.
Summary of information:
When accessorizing your vehicle with aftermarket parts, your warranty claim cannot be automatically denied, nor can your warranty be voided, if you install non-OEM parts in your vehicle. The burden is on the dealer to prove the aftermarket parts you installed, caused the failure. For example, if your windshield wiper motors fail, your vehicle’s warranty claim can’t be denied because you installed aftermarket windshield wipers that are different from OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts. Similarly, if a wheel bearing fails or a fan belt snaps and you have an aftermarket exhaust installed, the dealership would have to prove that the exhaust system caused the bearing failure, or the belt to snap in order to deny your warranty claim. In these types of scenarios, the dealership should have no reason to deny your claims.
In addition to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, you also have SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) working to protect your rights. Because SEMA represents U.S. aftermarket wholesalers, retailers, distributors, and manufacturers, they often keep car manufacturers in check by supporting legislation that prevents dealership service providers from denying warranty coverage. This means dealerships have become less stringent when it comes to aftermarket parts that modify performance or suspension.
Tips & Tricks to follow:
At the K5 Optima Store, we only sell reputable brands that thoroughly test their products to ensure your vehicle stays in “the safe zone." Most of our performance parts are bolt-ons, which give you nice performance gains without requiring major modifications or internal engine work. In all reality, you shouldn’t have any problems due to the installation of the parts we sell. But, here are a few pointers to avoid some potential pitfalls.
Make sure you install the part properly. Carefully follow any installation guides (if available) and make sure you check any tolerances. Educate yourself on the parts you’re installing, that’s half the fun of working on your vehicle. If the part is outside your comfort zone for installation, consult with a professional to install it for you.
If you need to go to the dealership for any type of warranty issue, choose them wisely, as they will vary in how they handle warranty claims. Check the Internet for reviews to see how they handle problems. If you’ve modified your vehicle with performance parts, it’s always best to work with a dealer that is performance-oriented. In smaller towns, you may not have a choice of dealerships, but rest assured that you’re still protected by the law. Also, if you have a performance tune installed, it's not a bad idea to remove it from your vehicle, to ensure the dealer doesn’t accidentally stumble across it during a regularly scheduled service. Simply arm yourself with the knowledge contained on this page, and go in with a smile. No service department wants to deal with (or help) an irate customer. If they don’t want to cover your claim, simply ask them to prove what caused the failure and get it in writing. Remember, legally, you’re protected under the Magnuson-Moss Act.
History of the Magnuson-Moss Act:
Passed in 1975, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law that governs warranties on consumer products. Under this Act, sellers and manufacturers of consumer products must provide consumers with detailed information about warranty coverage. Sponsored by Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington and U.S. Representative John E. Moss of California, this Act affects both the obligations of warrantors and the rights of consumers under written warranties.
Purpose of the Magnuson-Moss Act:
The Act’s purpose is to help consumers understand their products warranties and to make these warranties enforceable. In essence, this statute was created to protect consumers from deceptive warranty practices and provide clarity regarding warranties on consumer products. To comply with the Magnuson-Moss Act, consumers should obtain complete information about warranty items and conditions and compare warranty coverage before any purchase. The Act also provides the Federal Trade Commission with a better means to protect consumers, while strengthening the incentive for companies to perform their warranty obligations in a thorough and timely manner. While all consumer products are not required to have warranties, if one is given, it must comply with the Magnuson-Moss Act.
In closing to wrap up:
As long as the product or products you are installing on your vehicle are installed correctly and professionally as they are designed to be installed, you would not have any issues with the warranty on your vehicle, regardless of what you may have heard online, or what your service advisor tells you. Many times service advisors and other dealership staff are poorly informed on the law and how the Magnuson-Moss Act works, and will tell their customers that any modifications done to the vehicle will void your warranty, even though you now know that this is not the case at all. It is your vehicle and you can choose to do what you want with it, as long as nothing you add to the vehicle causes issues with any other factory components. Happy Modding!!