You want to upgrade your vehicle with aftermarket equipment, but you’re worried about putting the vehicle’s warranty at risk. It’s no wonder. How many times have you heard someone at a automobile dealership say that unless the dealer installs your aftermarket equipment you will automatically void your new car warranty? This common misconception has been repeated often enough to be widely believed – though it is completely false.
Dealers don’t like warranty work, because it pays less than normal repair work. By promoting the myth that aftermarket equipment automatically voids warranties, some dealers avoid such low-paying work. Instead, they attempt to charge customers the prime service rate for work which is rightfully done under warranty.
Most vehicle owners are not aware they are protected by federal law: the Magnuson-Moss Warranty – Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act of 1975. Under the Magnuson-Moss Act, aftermarket equipment which improves performance does not void a vehicle manufacturer’s original warranty, unless the warranty clearly and conspicuously states that aftermarket equipment voids the warranty. Most states have warranty statutes, as well. Which provide further protections for vehicle owners.
In other words, that means a dealer can’t wiggle out of his legal warranty obligation merely because you install aftermarket equipment. To find out if any aftermarket equipment automatically voids your vehicle’s warranty, check the owner’s manual. It is likely the language you are looking for appears under a heading such as “What Is Not Covered” Although the language seems negative, remember your vehicle manufacturer is simply saying he does not cover the aftermarket products themselves. He is not saying that the products would void the vehicle warranty.
VEHICLE DEALERS OBLIGATIONS:
Suppose your modified vehicle needs repairs while still under warranty. Without analyzing the true cause of the problem, the dealer attempts to deny warranty coverage. He made his decision simply based on the fact that you’ve installed aftermarket equipment – a convenient way to dodge low-paying warranty work.
An example of how ridiculous this can get is the man who was denied warranty coverage by a dealer on his power door locks, because he had improved his exhaust system! Sounds nuts? It really happened – because that man did not know his rights and challenge the dealer’s decision.
Fact: A dealer must prove – not just say – that aftermarket equipment caused the need for repairs before he can deny warranty coverage on that basis.
Point out to the dealer the provision of the Magnuson-Moss Act- Require that he explain to you how the aftermarket equipment caused the problem. If he can’t – or his explanation sounds questionable – it is your legal right to demand he comply with the warranty.
Fact: If you are still being unfairly denied warranty coverage, there is recourse. The Federal Trade Commission, which administers the Magnuson-Moss Act, monitors compliance with warranty issues. Direct complaints to the FTC www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.
Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act, a vehicle manufacturer may not make its vehicle warranty conditional on the use of any brand of anti-theft device unless the manufacturer provides the anti-theft device free of charge or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has specifically published that only the vehicle manufacturer’s product may be used. To challenge a false claim, ask the person to put it in writing, or request the vehicle manufacturer’s security system free of charge. If you are charged for the anti-theft device, or they refuse to give you a written statement, this is a violation of Federal law.
This is the actual language of the act:
No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumer’s using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade, or corporate name; except that the prohibition of this sub-section may be waived by the Commission if
the warrantor satisfies the Commission that the warranted product will function properly only if the article or service so identified is used in connection with the warranted product, and
the Commission finds that such a waiver is in the public interest.
The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction of any action brought by the Attorney General (in his capacity as such), or by the Commission by any of its attorneys designated by it for such purpose, to restrain (A) any warrantor from making a deceptive warranty with respect to a consumer product, or (B) any person from failing to comply with any requirement imposed on such person or pursuant to this chapter or from violating any prohibition contained in this chapter.